My body was ravaged by pregnancy. After Lennon’s birth, I avoided mirrors for awhile because looking in them made me sad. I didn’t like the flabby, aged woman I saw looking back at me. Nearly every time I inspected my body, I would discover previously unnoticed stretch mark, angry and red, creeping across my abdomen, my sides, my breast, or my thighs due to the excessive swelling I experienced while on Magnesium due to my preeclamptic condition.
Worse, I had lost a significant amount of muscle mass due to my in-active lifestyle and nearly a week of hospital bed rest when struggling with my blood pressure. Climbing a flight of stairs at the hospital felt like I was ascending a mountain peak: my heart would race, my breath would become shallow, and in a few instances, my vision would become spotty.
I had expected a few stretch marks, but I hadn’t expected this, an irrevocable change.
Prior to getting pregnant, I felt good about myself. My husband had recently celebrated our tenth anniversary with a trip to Iceland where we spent the week camping, hiking, and relaxing in hot springs. When I was not on vacation, I worked out three or more times a week, tracked my caloric intake, and maintained an active lifestyle. I had run a few 5K races and hiking some of Maine’s highest mountains, including Mount Katahdin. I was no Serena Williams, but I felt confident and happy when I summiting a challenging mountain or wandering the beach in a bikini.
The rotation of breastfeeding, changing my daughter, and sleeping during the early days of motherhood didn’t leave much time for working out, and I struggled to carry my new infant and my ballooned body during the days that I went for a walk.
Despite these difficult beginnings, the weight slowly began to slowly slide away from my body. My walks became longer, and eventually, I graduated to small mountains. Recently, I hauled my now four and a half month infant, a backpack, and myself up Blueberry Mountain, elevation 1,781, in western Maine. After struggling to the top, I couldn’t help but feel little proud of my battle-scarred body.
No matter how much I worked out or dieted, I know my body will never go back to it’s pre-baby condition - my cesarean section scar, stretch marks, and extra skin are here to stay - but I have come to a point where it has stopped bothering me. What’s important to me now, however, is not how my body looks, but what it can do. It can run a 5K, hike a mountain, and most importantly, produce the most beautiful child I have ever seen. It now has a story to tell, and so do I.