We recently had one of our TFC Chats with former Most Girl In Nigeria, Anita Uwagbale-Iseghohi. Meeting her in person, if I did not know that she’s had 3 kids, I would never have guessed she had set eyes on the four walls of a labour ward. But she has been there thrice, so she can be considered a pro, but the figure on her is quite nice for an “after 3”! No vex Anita.
I know why I’m using Anita in my analogy for this story. You see, her Instagram page is filled with lots of two-piece bikini photos, and you will not see any fat in sight. I can’t wear a bikini, even though I’m on the slim side. She runs the equivalent of a marathon every week. If I get 200m done in a month, then I must be high on something, or the babies have given me plenty of reasons to chase after them.
But you know one thing, just as Anita loves her body and lovingly cares for it, so should I and mothers out there, who know the very real struggle of unwanted weight that keeps piling on when you need it least. However, motherhood teaches some vital lessons about our bodies, it shakes our expectations most times, but we all come to a place of acceptance; “This is my body, I’m loving it, the way it is and in time, it will be the way I want it to be.” What are those lessons?
1. Your body is a vessel meant to give love and life
It was in church this past Sunday that a mom of a one year old daughter was telling me about how she had been looking at pictures of when she was pregnant, and even after that, and how fat she had been.
She talked of how she had thought she would never be able to loose the weight, but a 30-day fast declared by the church, this past January, sorted her out quickly and she was back in her pre-baby weight range. What engendered this conversation was the fact that she was wearing a gown she hadn’t worn for close to two years, and she was so happy about it.
That day ended with her posting some before and after pictures of her pregnancy shots and her present pictures on Facebook, and saying the difference was her daughter. I laughed at that. Indeed, the difference between those two pictures was the baby that came out of it.
While not totally out of woods, I think I like my mom body better. It is a body that has stood the test of time, unyielding under strain. It’s a body that needs love.
2. Childbirth is natural for your body but… but not necessarily easy on it
I have told numerous friends to calm down when they tell me about their fears concerning childbirth, with the words, “Your body is meant for the job, just let it do it.” Lies, pants of fire! What I did not tell them was the fact that their body was not going to find it easy to do that ‘natural’ job.
It will put lots of strain and pain on the body. It will task the body to its core. And its does not matter whether a woman gives birth naturally, had an epidural, gave birth via C-section, the burden on a mom’s body is still there. Every one has a story to tell. Kudos. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
And breastfeeding? Natural? Yes. Easy? No way. Your back, your arms and your sleep-deprived-brain will fill in the gap for you.
When you are a new mom, taking care of your body is probably no where on the your to-do list. There are plenty people needing your attention. However, as we learn to listen to it, rather than hate it for changing, like pulling at the folds in her middle, or the bits down under, we come to accept it for what it.
By listening, we learn when to go hard on the exercise front, or when we just need to rest, or when you need vegetables, and not that chocolate you have been longing for.
3. Change inevitably comes to the body
Let me tell you a story. I bought my first pair of jeans in my first semester in the University (I wasn’t allowed to wear them growing up, perhaps that’s why my legs are permanently encased in trousers now). It was a perfect fit. I loved those jeans. It was also the standard size with which I measured if I was back to my normal weight, after each pregnancy.
I literally squeezed myself into them on the Monday after I had my first babies. Mehn! They were tight, but it felt good that I could get into them at all. The second time around, I could not wear them immediately, but by the end of 6 weeks, I could wear them comfortably.
Before, I let them go, the only thing that was holding it up was my hips. I had grown leaner than my early days in the University, but it was a body that had seen some hard labour, and that was its own way of adapting to it.
4. Your body tells your story, chapter by chapter
From the stretch marks (badges of honour, I call them), to the C-section Scar, or the more hidden scar of a vaginal tear, not to mention the scars on your body, some of which might be linked to your motherhood journey, it is your body, and tells the story of your life. It shows the map of the route you have taken in life.
The stretch marks across your hips are a reminder of your pregnancy chapter, and the nine-month stretch to meet your baby. Your nipples might even look different to you. Not to worry, they are merely telling their own story of their role in providing nourishment for your new baby. Instead of seeing these changes as challenges, I, for one, have come to see them as reminders of these chapters in my life.
5. The goal becomes about being healthy, rather than having a perfect body
Although there are times, the gorgeous moms around me can stir some competitive spirit in me, it does not last. All I really care about is being healthy, not about gaining weight (which I won’t mind), or losing weight.
Being able to control my sugar binges, drink sufficient water, and, for once, have an acne-free face. The goal is about feeling balanced, such that I’m able to wake up in the morning, get the battalion ready for school, take them there, and come back to start my own day. Those seemingly little things matter a lot, and I thank God for my Mom bod being able to do all of it.
If we are able to embrace and accept the lessons motherhood is teaching through our bodies, we may very well discover new levels of peace, strength and grace both within and outside of our bodies.
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