This is a post that’s been swimming around in my brain for a while now, but I’ve been hesitant to write it because I imagine some readers’ reactions being something along the lines of “You’ve lost too much baby weight? Cry me a river.” If you think you might fall into that category, please skip this post. I’m not trying to minimize other women’s very real struggles to lose weight, but this post is about my own body image, health, and fitness, and the various ways my postpartum experience has contributed to that.
I’ve written about my postpartum body before. At the time, I was already under my pre-pregnancy weight, but still felt comfortable with the numbers on the scale, if not the image in the mirror. Since then, I’ve lost another six or seven pounds. My digital scale now informs me every time I step onto it that I am underweight, that my BMI is under 18.5. My body, though thinner than it’s been probably since high school, lacks definition and tone. The ass I used to be so proud of is nowhere to be seen. I’ve had to buy new jeans because even the skinniest of mine were baggy and constantly sliding down my hips. Even sitting on the floor has become uncomfortable because there’s no cushion around my tail bone.
Every calorie I eat goes straight to my boobs–as it should as long as I’m breastfeeding–but the rest of my body is having a hard time keeping up. I feel like I’m eating all day long, but it’s never enough. It doesn’t help that my go-to snacks–cheese and yogurt–have been off the menu since I discovered baby girl’s dairy sensitivity. I’ve tried to reintroduce these several times, but she’s still having a negative reaction to them. I hope she outgrows it soon. In the meantime, I try to eat healthy fats, like olives, almonds, and peanut butter, as well as tons of not-so-healthy potato chips, candy, and chocolate. None of it sticks.
This was only part of the impetus for joining the 30 Days of Yoga challenge. In addition to looking flat and undefined, my body also feels weak. My back hurts every day. I have trouble sleeping comfortably because my bony knees knock together, and even putting a pillow between my thighs doesn’t help much. Going up and down the stairs while holding or wearing baby girl–and often carrying laundry at the same time–leaves me breathless.
And then, of course, there’s my sex life, which is almost nonexistent, much to Hubby’s dismay. I’m still dealing with pain from my episiotomy scar, which makes me feel broken from the waist down. And besides that, I just don’t feel sexy. Part of it is sheer exhaustion, fueled by sleep deprivation at night and running around after a mobile 10-month-old during the day. And part of it is my own doing. I literally cannot tell you the last time I shaved my legs, that’s how long it’s been. Anytime Hubby reaches for the boobs, I pull back, because, in my mind, they don’t belong to him. They are for baby girl.
Then my sister told me about the challenge. At the time, she was on day 8 and said she was feeling muscles she didn’t know she had. After two days, I texted her saying my whole body felt like a muscle I didn’t know I had. Which, I suppose, is a good thing.
Do I honestly believe that practicing yoga every day for 30 days is going to magically transform my body and my attitude toward it? Of course not. But it’s a start. And it’s something I can do for myself, to ensure the me that exists outside of being baby girl’s mom doesn’t waste away too.