With every baby I’ve grown and birthed, my awe of the female body and its wisdom grows. A woman’s body shapeshifts so effortlessly, day by day and week by week. It knows just what to do, and how to do it. Pregnancy lets us grow accustomed to each additional pound, little by little, balancing each change as it goes. And by small and simple things are great things brought to pass. A miracle is born and the fourth trimester begins.
Unfortunately, once the baby is born, the amazement in the home that carried it all those months can begin to wane, allowing postpartum tug-of-wars to begin. In the weeks following delivery, your body is still busy shapeshifting and consequently defying all man made clothing. Dressing can at times become a game of fitting the circle peg through the square hole, and cursing a closet full of square holes. Funny how the postpartum figure is so uniquely gorgeous sans clothes, but once that fabric touches it, POOF, it begins to feel all wrong. I know the female form was divinely designed and intelligently constructed, it is not simplistic by any means. This powerhouse does not go by quietly and hails its curves of intelligence and strength in a big way. The postpartum body requires more space as it continues to nurture and grow life, and women like me can find this a challenging characteristic.
Getting back to my pre-pregnancy size was fairly easy after I had my twins, thanks to nursing times two, and them magically sleeping through the night at an abnormally early age. With Dallin, it took a bit longer, as he wasn’t sleeping long stretches until well after his first birthday, which I learned at that time was normal. Then came Josie who was super colicky for the first six months of her life. I got to experience intense, long-term sleep deprivation and my body going into literal survival mode. My weight loss came to an abrupt halt only months after her birth, and wouldn’t budge for many months. It was frustrating at times and just added to the anxiety and depression I was experiencing. When it happened again after Jack was born, and I was going through the same ongoing sleep deprivation, my perspective was different. I finally realized my body was maintaining it’s shape and weight out of wisdom.
When you’re the sole food source of a baby, and burning energy day and night tending to that baby and other children, the house, the job, the calling, and so on, it knows that it needs to keep you afloat. It needs to preserve you, and so it holds onto those pounds like a toddler on a cookie. I’ll be honest, at times it can still be frustrating to see that same number week after week, but I am grateful for a shift in my perspective. I’m thankful for a wise body that is doing what’s best for me and keeping me going when the going gets tough. It truly knows better than I do. Mothering five small children with a baby who didn’t sleep more than four-hour stretches for nine months was incredibly difficult. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. EVER. My body knows its limits, and it knows what it needs to survive, and consequently it’s looking out for me.
Fortunately, Jack has been sleeping longer stretches in the last few weeks, and I’ve been able to get more sleep, exercise and feel better in general. Ever so gradually the weight is coming off. I’m ten months postpartum, and not at my pre-pregnancy weight, and that’s ok! I understand the excitement to fit in the clothes you love and just feel more “you,” and that time will come. But next time your body is holding onto the weight postpartum, and you’re swamped with tasks, running low on energy, up every couple hours at night with the baby or the toddler, or your anxiety, and you wonder “Why?” remember the wisdom of your body. Remember all that it’s doing to preserve you and your baby through the strenuous work you are doing every day. Try to envision your body as your ally, not your enemy, and consider that it might just be trying to get you through it all.