Having a second child has truly been an eye-opening experience. While it wasn't my first rodeo in the labor and delivery department, there are certain realities I never really experienced with my firstborn -- like this post-baby belly and how eager it is to hang around. As any mother who's given birth knows, your body takes time to readjust. I just didn't realize the process would be longer the second time around.
This is something I don't talk about much, out of fear I'll be judged for not loving my kids, and for focusing too much on something that's not really life or death. Honestly, I feel like many moms deal with postpartum body image behind closed doors and it deserves some discussion -- without an assumption we're trying to give a celebrity mom a run for her money.
Even though I have no desire to have glistening six-pack abs (kudos to you if that's your dream, but it requires more dedication in the diet department than I'm willing to give!), it would be nice if this underbelly and I would part ways. I love you, and thank you for helping me bake my beautiful little boys, but you served your purpose. (I'll still send holiday cards.)
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During both of my pregnancies, I was extremely fortunate to stay very active. Whether I was running, taking a Zumba class, boxing, or weight lifting (all with modifications, of course), exercise was my saving grace -- helping me feel full of energy, have an optimal weight gain, and make natural birth a pretty speedy reality. As with my first son, I was ready to get back to the gym after the birth of my second little boy. Working out keeps me quick on my feet and is a natural stress reliever.
The truth is I didn't care as much about getting back to my pre-pregnancy weight as I did about getting back to how I felt. (I also began lifting more and gained muscle, which I knew would likely tip the scale a bit.) Still, with pounds and inches shedding off over time, I was feeling pretty good with myself. Even with compliments, I was happy with the way things were going ... with the exception of my postpartum belly.
No matter how much I exercised and ate a balanced diet (okay, I threw some M&Ms in there from time to time -- sue me!), I didn't feel super in the tummy department.
Sure, I tried to fight negative thoughts with positive ones. Yet, there were questions that swirled around in my head, like whether or not this belly is the new normal and if my skin still had elasticity to readjust.
That's when I remembered the Mid Drift Movement, a campaign that aims to help mothers embrace every inch of their bodies -- including the soft underbelly. Thinking about this movement and all my frustrations made me take a hard look in the mirror, both at myself and my post-baby belly.
Why are you giving yourself a hard time, girl? I questioned. Are you really going to let this belly define who you are?
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Like many women, I can be extremely hard on myself -- to the point of overlooking certain achievements because I failed to do one thing. It's really dumb, but I'm not perfect, and can only try to get better.
Yes, there are certain fitness goals I'd love to accomplish, but that doesn't mean I'm some failure because my tummy has a little extra skin. The truth is, it's going down -- just not at the rate I thought it would. I knew comparing pregnancies was a no-no (not every experience is the same), and yet, I continued to break this cardinal rule.
Since my conversation with myself, I have learned to love all of me. While I do still have some soft underbelly, my focus is on feeling great, and trying to be the best version of myself I can be -- both inside and out.
So many of my past thoughts have focused on this dang belly that I forgot to look at all the great stuff happening around me. I am running faster than I ever have before. I am lifting more than I have in the past. And this is all with two kids!
Most importantly, I'm having fun along the way, which is all that really matters.
There are so many dimensions to being a woman that go beyond the call of "mom duty." In addition to our being pretty kick-ass people when it comes to parenting, we have bodies that are a wicked freak of nature, that can do so many amazing things.
The more I stop trying to pinpoint what I think is wrong, the more I can appreciate all I have to offer as Tanvier.
And if that means I have an underbelly, so be it.
Images courtesy of Tanvier Peart