#MyBodyStory is a weekly series of reader submitted pieces about what it’s like to live in your body.
If you have a story to share, please email : Story@DoTheHotpants.com
And now, without further ado,
Here is Cat’s story.
So, let me clear the air first.
I have been very lucky to have been blessed with two amazing little boys. I have a 4.5 year old and a 1 year old and they are my universe, and sometimes my husband also gets a look in! Like any mum, the worries that you have during your first pregnancy primarily centre around ‘exactly how much will it hurt.’ (For the avoidance of doubt it’s a lot!) You can do all the pre-natal classes that you like, soak in all the free advice that you are offered, but the reality is, you are never prepared – it’s a vast learning curve.
I thoroughly embraced my pregnant body first time around – the changes were beyond belief and it is just simply miraculous how much you change…..
Where did my feet go?
Will I ever be the same again?
What is that line on my bump?
And best of all, check out the boobs!
It’s true to say that first time around I worried very little about my post pregnancy recovery. I have always been one of those irritating people who preach about keeping fit and how it’s ‘what keeps me sane.’
I would simply pick up where I left off.
Two weeks after the shock of child birth subsided, I can safely say I have never felt so low or vulnerable.
My body felt ravaged, nothing was where I remembered it having existed before this so called ‘act of nature’ took place. Everything hurt, and ‘loose’ didn’t even come close to describing my body. Yes, I was in awe of my new baby boy, but in the back of my mind I was fighting a constant war with myself…
Should I eat for two?
Should I exercise more?
Should I be able to ‘pop’ my pre-baby skinny jeans on?
You certainly need to nourish your body properly when you are nursing a baby – but how do you nourish your mind? New mums can feel overwhelmed with the tsunami of hormones. I know I did. Why then overnight do we go from “you look radiant” to “she was a size 10”?
I cried a lot, I slept very little; I was emotionally, physically and psychologically exhausted. I had no baby inside but my god did I still have a bump! To then be bombarded with celebrities that simply pop back into their pre-baby couture created the perfect mix.
Not only is it unreal, it’s unfair.
I desperately wanted to do some physical exercise, simply to feel like I could claw back a piece of me. But here’s the thing. Firstly – walking. It’s harder than it looks with those ‘stitches’. Secondly, your fabulous ‘rack’ leaks and it hurts to move at any speed! Most of all you just don’t have the energy. Sugar is your friend – a pick me up, energy giving bff – but ultimately you will pay the sugar drop price.
I spent a lot of time during my maternity leave around people who were obsessed with how the weight just fell off ‘so and so,’ and they talked a lot about the latest diet fads. I’m not a particularly glamorous person… I like nice clothes but I’m no fashionista. I was always very comfortable with no make-up, but I was struck by how obsessed I had become with my appearance!
If I couldn’t lose weight did that mean I wasn’t succeeding or coping as a mum?
Should I be able to be everything to all?
Why can’t I get through a day without being in floods of tears?
Can I exist without concealer and mascara?
Then I remembered – I had simply forgotten to hire a chef, a beautician, a hairdresser, a dietician, a driver, a personal trainer and a cleaner. Therein lay my solution. Obvious really!
The reality I feel, is a lot simpler. If we were all a lot more honest, the bar of expectation would lower significantly. Second time around, I was a lot more prepared for what was to come. Don’t get me wrong, the same worries were there, but I was also equipped with the knowledge that a lot of those feelings of hopelessness don’t last forever. I also needed to accept the fact that we are all different, and as such, need to do things differently!
I have found some things harder this second time around though. Clearly I was nearly 4 years older – you are simply not as stretchy and your body needs more time to recover.
Child birth is amazing! You make a tiny human! I mean wow.
But who do we really need to impress? Are you a better mum if you’re a size 8? Does your baby really care what you wear? The answer is no. I am happy, healthy and a natural size 10. That’s my normal size and it’s not forced or dieted or punished into submission. I have good days and bad days.
I have removed the clothes from my life that I will simply never fit into again. And if I really loved them I bought a bigger size. I have a new found respect for my body… It’s an awesome tool and we are a team. We have days when we disagree, but we always manage to work it out. I have never introduced myself to someone by my clothing size, so why should I start now?!
My name is Cat, I’m a great mum, and my kids think I rock!