This post is a contribution to the “Ease Into Motherhood” blogging celebration. See the original announcement for more details about this series.
Bouncing back is overrated.
I remember after my first baby. When I lost my baby weight, it felt like I had accomplished something big. “I’m back.” I told a friend. Like somehow I had erased something embarrassing that had happened. I wasn’t back though. My clothes felt wrong and I didn’t know enough about my own body to understand what was different. My old clothes sat in the basement in a plastic bin marked with my name and patiently waiting for me to wear them again. Most of them I never did.
Now eleven years and six more babies later, “back” is not place I desire to go. How could I look like a childless 21-year-old when so much life has happened to me? Back would mean I would still be waiting for love, for babies, wondering when life would begin. Back would mean seven less people to love and a decade-plus of experience lost. Demanding my body back would be a rejection of the present as a temporary inconvenience, instead of seeing it as a gift.
And this new baby is such a gift.
And our relationship is still very vulnerable and new.
And the world keeps rushing on,
but I am not quite ready to move out into it.
Out there, the world shouts “Bounce back!” Get back to work. Back to cleaning. Back to blogging. Back to a social life. Back to driving my kids to activities. Back to your old weight. Back to your old clothes.
It can wait.
First, I need to figure out this “us” – baby and I, baby and I and our family. This relationship was so fresh and good, but yet so much a part of me that I couldn’t even recognize myself for a while. This self who is mother of a little person named Edna, and whose heart is stretching again and filling with love, and whose body was no longer pregnant.
It was scary at first. That sudden expansion of my body and then my love. The world told me to “bounce back”, but now I know I am meant to grow forward. To grow more accepting of who I am, faults and all. To grow more in love with the people that have been gifted to me. And to grow more giving of this self to others.
Caring for myself during this period of personal growth and physical recovery means letting myself dress myself well now. Wearing clothes that are beautiful, wearing colors that bring me joy, and wearing clothes that fit me as I am are all part of accepting myself during this transitional time, not matter how long “now” lasts.
Caring for myself means not rushing the process in order to “bounce back” into sewing just as I was before.
It means choosing sewing projects that fit in with my life as it is presently.
- Projects that can be accomplished in short spurts of time I can give them. (Hint: Most sewing projects can be broken down into multiple 15 minutes sewing sessions.)
- Choosing clothing patterns that can be worn while nursing, and are forgiving of my fluctuating weight.
- Fabrics that are laundered easily.
It means being patient with the limitations of the present, because I now know that this time is as temporary and precious as it is hard. Those other projects will be there when I am good and ready for them.
And it means I can take my time hugging my baby
because babies don’t keep.
Monserratt Lopez says
I love you Jodi!
It’s sometimes for me really hard to feel like you deserve time for myself in this process. I feel like I’m cheating, but I feel I deserve it and I need to understand that in order to love my baby and teach her to love herself, I also need to love and accept myself.
Thanks for sharing your journey! <3
Angie palladino says
I needed this today.
So well expressed.
Gillian Whitcombe says
Such a lovely post. I appreciate your message!
All of this. Love you and your words, friend! ❤️
9am, cried like a baby. I really needed to hear this. I’m struggling so hard with my post baby body right now, especially because somehow I feel like I have to loose all the babyweight before I can get pregnant again. Not helped by the fact that some University professors in my country released an article two weeks ago saying that they would like to gift new mothers a scale and personal trainer right after giving birth because we need to ‘bouce back’ within 6 months. Like somehow it’s our fault for not making time to exercise and eat right. My youngest is 17 months and I’m only now finding the time.
Whaattttt? A personal trainer sounds awesome. It would be nice to have some knowledgable input on how to regain good posture and strength, but a scale? How is that necessary?
That first kid can be a really rough go. There is so much to adjust to, and it can take a while to find your footing and feel competent again.
Kathy Benitez says
A personal trainer and someone to play with your baby so they don’t sit on your face, right?
Abby Glassenberg says
A beautiful post. It’s easy to treat yourself shabbily because you’re waiting to get back to your old body. Instead we should embrace our current body for its beauty and health just as it is and treat it well.
This is so wise and beautifully written. My baby girl is three weeks old today and I’ve been focusing a lot on bouncing back into normal life and so your closing words and photo really resonated with me, thank you.
Casey Maura says
I love this perspective so much! I started to realize much of this after I had my son this past December–and wish I had known these things when I had my daughter four years ago. I spent so much time depressed about how life
(or my body) wasn’t going in the direction I wanted, that I wasted a lot of time. I love the idea of “growing forward” rather than bouncing back–it seems a lot more gentle and less unrealistic. I’ve been sewing/creating a lot more for myself since I had my second child, and I’m hoping it means I’ve come to a better place of peace with myself postpartum! 🙂
I love every word of this and if I had read it before I wrote my own, I probably just would’ve deleted my words and linked to yours, haha! I love the sentiment and it is beautifully written.
No! The more it is said and in more different ways, the more people will be encouraged. I’m glad you wrote your post too!
What a beautiful and thoughtful post! Embracing the body and life we have right now is so important. Love this message!
This is from your mom, and is so beautiful, I wished you were my friend when I was having you and your sibs. I did have a wonderful Wednesday mother’s bible study, where a blessed lady played with babies in the basement playroom, and truly holy woman led us in a bible study (usually a canned version) in the living room. It was a moment, once a week, of shared learning, and a lot of prayer support.
A mom of 9, told me she dreamed once that she would run a prayer spa, and bring new mom’s into it and play soft sweet music, and pack them in sand hot sand with aromatherapy, have a masseuse and chef. Of course there would be oodles of nannies and the babies would be brought out, changed and bathed, for nursing in a comfy soft chair.
The best thing ever was we actually did it for just one first time mom who had a very rough pregnancy and tough birth and touch and go with her little one. When she was on her own and recovering but still not sleeping much, we spent the day, two hours a piece, four of us at a time, making a friend’s home a spa, and playing her favorite music and giving her mani/ped and spoiling her. It was only one time, but it made me understand how much we need to live with other people in our lives, just loving each other through the tough times. It is harder and harder to do this. Together we gave her a 12 hour day spa. Thanks to a professional in the group, she even had a new easy care hairdo.
If anyone ever wants to love you, let them. Women have always had tough times, but they used to understand that is was okay to be rescued. We need to care for each other. They used to call it confinement and come to the mom. Remembering this is good for me years later, because this youngster (who is fifty now) let it happen. She gave me the gift of letting me give her just little things for a little bit of time. Treats and pink toenails, and vigilant child care. And it is still blessing me.