I was extremely thin before I got pregnant with Callie. Like tiny thin.
All through my pregnancy I heard, “Oh you are so lucky. It will be so easy for you to bounce back.”
“Oh, you’ll bounce back.”
I would see it in the magazines at the grocery store. Another star showing off how she had dropped all her “baby weight” and had bounced back.
Bounce back. Bounce back. Bounce back.
But did I want to bounce back? Did I truly want to go backwards? Was that even possible? To go backwards to the person I was before?
The answer is no.
No matter how many crunches I did.
No matter how many salads I ate.
No matter how much cocoa butter I rubbed on my tummy.
No matter how much water I drank.
Because on the day that Callie was born……I also was reborn.
As a mother.
As a fighter.
As a protector.
As a completely new person.
This new body that I had? The one with the road map of stretch marks delicately dancing across my stomach? The new mosaic that detailed every day that my stomach stretched to keep our little girl safe? That body?
The one with the soft stomach that had cuddled our little girl while she was recovering in the NICU? The one with the chapped hands from washing them so much prior to visiting her in her incubator? The one with the bags under her eyes from stress? The swollen puffy skin and limp hair?
The one that had made it through days of zero sleep? The one that had caught tiny cat naps in uncomfortable hospital chairs? The one that had forsaken her own need for rest to hold her little girl for 12 hours at a time in the NICU? That body?
It was a new person. She had stretched, and tugged, fought and grew, and bloomed into something brand new.
And I could never go back to the “pre baby” body again.
Nor did I want to.
Because this new “mom” bod I had been blessed with?
She was way stronger.
She had proven that she could do extremely hard things. She could lift a huge stroller, juggle a baby carrier, and continue to manage their home. She got up and down off the floor 500 times and did countless physical therapy sessions with Callie. She could care for her own chronic disease at the same time learning to step into the life of a mama of a baby with special needs. That new body? It had an untouchable tolerance for survival.
Her body just did a completely magical thing–created and housed a miracle. A miracle that she had spent her life being told she wouldn’t be able to have. Her body was a safe haven for her little girl for 7 months. Her body would come to fight cancer and triumphantly beat it. Her body and her view of it would be the foundation she lays for how her daughter sees herself in the future. The body with the soft stomach–how could I let my daughter know that I didn’t like that new change? The soft stomach from carrying her, creating her, and giving birth to her?
So I put on the swimming suit–so I can play in the pool with her. I wear the bikini–so Callie can see a confident mother. Confidence is eating right, exercising, and feeling strong. I’m teaching her that being a confident mother has nothing to do with the size of my butt, how lean my legs are, or if I have a “thin” body. It has to do with who Mama is at her core–not how toned her core is.
The stretch marks? They’re still there. A little faded now but a physical reminder. A reminder of a younger woman, who wished and prayed with all of her might, for a child. Each silvery stripe, represents a prayer that was sent up. Never giving up hope that someday, she too would get the honor of being a mama.
The squishy stomach? It’s still mildly squishy. It won’t probably ever have the definition that it did before. It now has a couple new scars–one from the C-Section and a few that I have as a souvenir from fighting cancer. It has served as a pillow for Callie’s head as we watch movies, been held by my husband as we sleep, and gets fed a cheeseburger on the regular.
So, I don’t think I would ever want to bounce “back.” I’m only interested in making new memories, loving our life, and moving forward in this life as a mama. Forwards. Never backwards.