I debated the title of this post for days. Is it a post on the postpartum body? Perhaps it’s just a post on body image? Self love? But I think I really knew it was about home and being home. A few months ago while breastfeeding Rafa he came off the breast and wiggled down to my tummy and just started kissing it and gently stroking it (and he’s never gentle!). My heart melted. It was as if he knew that was his home. That was where he hung out, communicated and loved me from, for nine months. It was where he first got to know me. He got to know what I liked eating, what I sounded like and the movements of my body against everyday life. He got to know my moods and my emotions. So this is a post on home.
Everyone’s postpartum journey is unique and each story, as with each person ought to be met with gentleness, kindness and respect. Regardless of what my story sounds like to you, or how you interpret my telling it – it is the only one I can tell as it is the only experience that I have had. My sharing my story in no way detracts from the truth, value and beauty of anyone else’s.
Before I got pregnant I weighed 42kgs. I’d been that weight for close to ten years with a few months in between where I went up to 45kgs (with no special effort on my part). Actually my weight, its gain and loss, has required very little effort from me. I do me and my body seems to follow along. At 39 weeks pregnant I was 56kgs. Six weeks postpartum I was back at around 45kgs and I was happy with that. I really liked how I looked and I was excited to maintain that weight. As the weeks went by I noticed little things – my clothes hung looser and my jewellery slid off. We didn’t own a scale until I got pregnant as I’ve never cared about the numbers. But once I was pregnant I was always so curious about what my body was doing, how Rafa (then Peanut) was growing – so we bought a scale. I got back on the scale and my heart sunk – 39kgs.
I was devastated. Who should I talk to? I wanted to talk to friends who had babies but I was unsure. Many people struggle to lose the weight after having a baby and there was little sympathy for those experiencing the opposite. Would sharing my ‘problem’ be insensitive to the experience of others? Being thin isn’t something I’ve aspired to, it has just been the outcome of my lifestyle. I knew that breastfeeding often played a part in weight loss. I was always carrying Rafa in a front pack and continued to walk everywhere. I was also doing yoga and a barre class (with Rafa in the front pack). I did these things because they made me feel really good about myself and they made me feel strong. They allowed me to be me during a time when a little mister dictated (and continues to dictate) my body and my being! Even though I was the lightest I had ever been as an adult I have never felt stronger, healthier or happier.
After thinking and talking about it with Patrick I reached out to a few friends who were nothing but reassuring and kind. I had a session with a health coach who helped me feel comfortable with the numbers and reminded me to focus on what I used to and to put the numbers to one side for the moment. I haven’t weighed myself again but I’m filling out my clothes a little better and my wedding ring fits like it used to. What I can’t believe though was how reluctant I was to tell my story and share my concerns.
Photos by Kama Catch Me
As much as there might be a dominant angle to an issue, any issue, which makes it seem like the most important or most sympathised with view – there are other angles and versions that are just as important. Regardless of what your journey is, everyone could benefit from a little bit of compassion, understanding and space to share their story without feeling bad, or guilty. Our journey is what it is.
Now I think about my body differently. I realise I need to keep an eye on the numbers now and then just to see what my body is doing but I should never be reluctant to talk about it. I should never be ashamed of how quickly I lost the weight. Or how thin I am postpartum. Because being reluctant or ashamed of my body would mean being ashamed of home. Of Rafa’s home. And I am not. I’m so proud that this tiny, skinny, whatever you want to call it, body carried and grew my precious baby for almost forty weeks. I love how much Rafa loves poking at it, stroking it and kissing it. I’m so proud of his home. And in being proud of his home, I guess I need to let myself be proud of me.