Keepin’ it real… a makeup-less bathroom selfie at almost 30 weeks pregnant!

(Before I continue, please don’t get me wrong- I am so incredibly thankful to be able to carry babies healthily, and so thankful for our fertility! SO incredibly thankful. I will never take that for granted.)

Tonight, at about 30 weeks pregnant with baby 3, I realized how far out my belly button has really “popped.” It was quite frightening. It’s popped much farther out than it ever did with my other 2 kids. In fact, it’s popped out so far that it’s like my bump has a bump. (Please don’t get me wrong- I am so incredibly thankful to be able to carry babies healthily, and so thankful for our fertility! SO incredibly thankful. I will never take that for granted.) And then it hit me: will my belly button go back to a somewhat reasonable size? I began to imagine what it might look like after baby 3 is born and it scared me. I panicked.

But then I remembered that I needed to be gentle with myself,  so I decided to write my future postpartum self a letter. This is for me. This is something I need to say to myself now, so that when I see my freshly postpartum body, I have something to go to. I know this might seem like an incoherent, disorganized ramble… but it makes sense to me, and I hope it might to you too. Its something I wanted to write to myself in preparation of having a newly postpartum body again, and I wanted to share it with you! I’m going to be really vulnerable here… deep breaths!

(Please don’t get me wrong- I am so incredibly thankful to be able to carry babies healthily, and so thankful for our fertility! SO incredibly thankful. I will never take that for granted.)

Dear Postpartum Mama of 3 babies:

You’ve been through so much. Out of the last 4.5 years (54 months), you have been nursing for approximately 38 of those months. You would have been pregnant for about 27 of those months. Your body has been through a lot: pregnancy, nursing, labour and birth. Your body has stretch to house three precious human beings, and will probably house many more. Yes, it doesn’t look the same… but life isn’t really the same as what it was like before kids either, right?

You have kissed countless boo-boos, wiped an abundance of tears, cleaned more diapers than you’d like to count, calmed the stormiest of terrible-two tantrums and nursed away bonks and bruises, as well as fevers and ear infections. You have the ability to soothe your babies like no one else does. You are irreplaceable, because you are their mama- their one and only. Your body made you their mama. You are their mama.

Not only has your body housed a growing baby, your body serves as a vessel, a haven, a sanctuary, a place of warmth and a source of nutrition for 3 of the most precious beings in your life.  You are their mama. And how beautiful is that? The stretch marks aren’t just “tiger stripes” that you earned. It goes much deeper than that. It’s physical proof that you and your babies were once intertwined together physically, joined by one beating pulse. How beautiful is that? As those stretch marks grew, so did those little feet that liked to curl up right under your right ribs. (To this day, that certain child still likes to hook his toes onto things). How beautiful is it that you were able to learn about your child’s quirks before he was born? As that belly button popped, chubby, delicious rolls developed around little wrists. And as your hips expanded in anticipation of the birthing event, as your belly stretched and grew, that little baby’s brain connections also formed. Those little connections formed, and your babies came to be familiar with learned to be comforted only by your voice, your heartbeat, your touch and your smell. These beautiful, instinctual connections formed while all these “unsightly” changes were happening to your body.

Take a step back and remember the first time that those wriggly, fresh newborn babies were plopped onto your chest. Try and remember what it felt like when your skin came into contact with your baby’s fresh newborn skin, still coated in vermix. It was a beautiful moment that you will forever cherish. But this time, as you cherish that memory, try and take a step back and notice the stretch marks and newly sagging skin as that very moment happened. It all makes sense if you take a step back and look at the bigger picture- your body worked incredibly hard for 9 months to reach that special moment where you first meet your baby, and it’s only natural for there to be physical evidence of all that hard work. Those stretch marks, extra pounds, saggy skin, funny new breasts- happened in anticipation of that very moment that you cherish so much.

The world may have certain standards for beauty. But let me tell you something, mama. You are beautiful. What you have is beautiful. Don’t be fooled by the world’s beauty standards because it doesn’t know the love you share with your children. Find perfection in imperfection. I know how saggy you think your breasts are. I know you see ripples in your once perfect and flawless belly. Sometimes you wish that the ripples in your skin weren’t there. And hey! I know you’re probably missing those rock hard abs. And yes- I know, you wish you could fit back in those size 0 jeans sitting in the back shelf of the closet. You nit-pick at your body, and it’s so hard to not criticize yourself. Next time you run your fingers across your stretch marks, be reminded not of the “unsightly” changes that have happened to your body, but be reminded of what has come out of it, which is a love so deep that words can’t describe: a love between a mother and her children. And how beautiful is it?

Those changes that have happened to your body aren’t just “worth it,”but they have been part of the beautiful transformation you have made from a girl into a mama. I know it’s easier said than done, but try to celebrate those changes you see in your body. As you remember the very first time you embraced your babies and they were plopped onto your chest, embrace those stretch marks. Those changes that you despise so much are part of your beautiful metamorphosis into  a mama that happens each time one of your newborns were plopped onto your chest.

Now go and hug your little monkeys. And then go sniff that newborn baby…and as you do- run your fingers along those stretch marks and be proud that they are there! 

(Please don’t get me wrong- I am so incredibly thankful to be able to carry babies healthily, and so thankful for our fertility! SO incredibly thankful. I will never take that for granted.)

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