Friday, August 7, 2009

My Body: The Aftermath

For some reason that I can't really explain, I don't seem to have any of the body image issues most women seem to have. Every now and then over the years, I look into the mirror and think, "Huh. That's how I look at 25/30/after having a kid/after having my second kid/etc." The first time I found a gray hair, I thought it was neat. I check out my little wrinkles and find them interesting.

I'm not saying that I'm perfect or that I think I'm perfect. In fact, I've always been self-conscious about my skin, which has been prone to breakouts since I was in 5th grade. But in general, I just accept how I look without feeling horrible about it. When I've been out of shape (and able to), I work out and/or eat better. But I don't have unrealistic expectations, either. I know I will never have the same body I had at 17 or 21. Overall, I'm okay with that, although I do remember it fondly (ah, the body I had at 21...).

And now, I look at my body after all it's been through and am amazed. After 6 fertility cycles, 3 conceptions, 2 pregnancies, 2 labor and deliveries, 20 total months so far of breastfeeding, and 33 years of life, this is my body. It's done so much, been to many parts of the world and through so much. It's been in shape, out of shape, huge with a baby inside, slender with youth, curvy with breast and hips. It's been through skydiving, scuba diving, regular yoga, gymnastics, swimming, golf and many other sports and activities.

Today, my body feels older than it is. I had my 6 week postpartum checkup last week. The doctor says I look good, that my body is healing well. The incision is healing up, and the stitches have all but dissolved (just some at the edge on the outside still hanging around). My abdomen is still sore all around the incision, but the incision itself is starting to itch a bit--although annoying, it is a sign of healing. I won't be able to wear bikini underwear for more than a year, maybe longer, but I can deal with that.

Speaking of underwear, because of the incision and how sore my abdomen around that area was after having the Pookie, I had to wear the largest grannie panties I'd ever seen in real life. They. Are. Huge! Apparently, I am no longer a bikini and thong underwear girl. This does make me a bit sad. Luckily, now that I'm less sore and my size has gone down a bit more, I am able to wear some underwear in between those two extremes. But I miss all my cute little panties that I have stored in a drawer in my closet. Cute bras, too, as opposed to the tired, worn out nursing bras I'm currently wearing that I've had since the Pumpkin was nursing. (I will go to the specialty lingerie store for new nursing bras as soon as I've settled into a postpartum size.)

In addition to the healing incision and underwear woes, my back and joints feel like they are falling apart. My back is sore from holding the baby, wearing the baby (in a sling) and leaning over when nursing without a Boppy. But what's even worse are my knees. I have always had one bad knee; while I was pregnant, my good knee went bad too. I don't know if it was all the weight gain and sudden weight loss or the hormones still running rampant through my body or what, but my knees have been so bad it is often hard for me to go up and down the stairs. I usually have to walk down the stairs like my toddler--both feet on one step before moving to the next. Thank goodness for the new knee brace I bought.

Finally, my hands. When my allergies act up or my hands are really dry, I get eczema on my fingers and hands. Well, with all the constant hand washing that comes with a new baby, my hands are incredibly dry. This causes the skin on my fingers to literally crack and scaly. When I had the Pumpkin, I used those waterless gels and my hands were awful! This time, I tried to be careful by using soap and water instead of the gel (which has always been easier on my hands) and constantly using lotion on my hands (especially the excellent organic Dream Cream by Lush, which I highly recommend to deal with dry, itchy skin and used on my pregnant belly with great success). Still, they are now going from the raw-red look to starting to form crack lines. My hands didn't start getting truly better until 20 months after the Pumpkin was born. I am really trying to keep them from getting that bad this time.

It's a lot for the body to go through. The pregnancies, the postpartum recoveries, the 33 years of wear and tear, the different health issues I have to deal with. And my body is not perfect, in health or appearance. But wow. Just wow. What my body can do! Overall, I think it's holding up pretty well. I'm seven and a half weeks postpartum, and I spend hours shopping at the outlets yesterday (I got great fall clothes for the Pumpkin to start pre-school and some really cute onesies for the Pookie!). Though sore, I did well and was able to handle a pretty full day.

My body may not be what it was when I was 21, but I think it's even more amazing. I'm proud of it, scars and all. And even though I'm sure I'm crazy for even thinking it, I keep thinking about having a third. My body could handle that too! But whether could I handle it mentally, that's another story.


Trannyhead said...

Good for you for having a good attitude.

I wasn't aware there was a no-bikini underwear policy post-C-section. I guess that means I'll be going without underwear. HAWT!

Karen said...

You've got a healthy attitude toward your body. And it is truly amazing what the body can go through and bounce back from.

Jezer said...

When Alex was about 6 months old, I tried to return to running, and it was too soon. I ended up injuring a knee pretty badly. The hormonal effects on joints was something that I didn't expect to last so long. It takes a long time to get back to normal.

Your perspective on body changes is healthy and realistic. You're right--our bodies have endured and accomplished amazing things. Thanks for the reminder. said...

our bodies are amazing. But I think pregancy, birth and nursing are also much harder on our bodies than most people talk about. I was totally depleted after 18 months of nursing and 9 months of growing a baby (in the other order I guess). I am just now starting to feel like myself again and I have been taking LOTS of supplements (b12, vitimin d, iron were all pretty much shot :)
I don't think we nurture mom's and their bodies enough, instead there is this expectation to get back to 'normal' as quick as possible....

I think it is awesome how you feel about your body. I am in that place now, LOVING it, feeling ok with it, but after having the baby it took me awhile to adjust, to say good bye to something that was totally gone :)

Abacaxi Mamao said...

You can buy cotton gloves and put moisturizer on your hands and then put the gloves on and sleep with the gloves on. It's mildly uncomfortable (was for me, that is), but it helped a lot with my eczema and dry hands in the past (winters in NYC and summers in Israel). You can also get prescription-strength moisturizer to put on before you put the gloves on--the stuff I had was nasty, goopy, smelly, pink stuff that stained the gloves, but it did wonders for my hands!

Londo said...

Don't let her fool you. Her body is still absolutely incredible.

Anonymous said...

Your husband is so very nice to post that lovely comment. HINT, HINT, DH. J/K

Anyway, I think it's great that you have such a positive body image and frankly you should! You look great and seemed to be managing it all in stride at the blogger meet-up!

As for the dry hands, I understand your pain. During the summer my hands are okay, but Fall and Winter are hell. I'll have to try the Dream Cream. I also recommend Ahava or Body Shop's Vitamin E hand lotion (both have light scents which I like).

Maybe we can go out sometime soon and pretend we're 21 again with 21 year-old bodies! Of course, we'd probably have to party like the mommas we are less we be stricken with hangovers!

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