I used to like my body. It wasn’t perfect by any means and if I had a genie from a magic lamp, sure, I would have changed a few things about it. But overall, I was happy with the way I looked. I worked out, I was healthy, I had muscles, I was strong.

And then I got pregnant and had a kid. I gained 48 lbs (which, in my defense, did include the 6 I lost during the first 3 months thanks to being so sick) and though I lost all but 5 of that in the 14 months post birth, I still looked…well, like I had had a kid. I worked out, I ate healthy (which in my mind includes dessert because there is such a thing as being mentally healthy as well as physical, and that includes dessert for me). I was strong again, I had muscles, and yet I still wasn’t happy. My chest sags more from all that breastfeeding and weight gain, my stomach looks like a topographical map from the stretch marks, my stomach pooches no matter how much cardio and abs I do, and my hair never got that pregnancy shine that everybody talks about, nor did it ever recover back to normal (which isn’t all that great to start with).

kathleen grinWell then I went and got knocked up again and here I am 6 1/2 months pregnant with baby #2 and you know what I’m thinking now? I rock. This body of mine has been through hell and not only survived, but produced a healthy human being. Not a monster, not an alien, but a frickin’ human being. If that isn’t amazing, I don’t know what is. (and not only is she a human being, but a darn cute one at that!)

Before, yes, I put my body through some tough stuff. I was an athlete, including one year of college track & field, I worked out hard, I enjoyed physical jobs which included lifting heavy objects and being on my feet day after day after day. And yet none of that compared to pregnancy and birth. This womanly stuff, well this stuff is hard on you physically and mentally. It literally rips your body to shreds and turns your mind into a puddle of goop.

So why have I struggled with being proud of my body for these amazing creations it created/is creating? Because in the terms WillyWonka_thumbof our society, working out generally makes you look better while pregnancy/birth makes you look…well….like Violet Beuregarde, the girl from Willie Wonka who turns blue and puffs up like a blueberry. And then it leaves you all squishy and soft, tired and weak, and basically not in as good of condition as you were before.

(Side note: I am by no means saying women who have not had kids or been pregnant are not tough. I am saying that for me, I am now in a whole different class than I was before. However I am definitely still not in the same class as any woman who has climbed Mt. Everest. Also, I realize there are lots of women who don’t come out of pregnancy/birth as rotten as I do or feel. More power to you. This is just my experience and what I have done. Thank you. Have a good day).

I now have cellulite where there used to be muscles. My stomach is rippled, not with actual abs, but stretch marks that will forever bear their mark on me. Between caring for a toddler, carrying a baby inside of me, managing a family and a house, and working part-time, any thought of working out is far gone by the time I actually could make time for it. Surgery is the only hope for this chest. My hair, well I live in Florida at least for now so I can get away with wearing it up everyday anyway.

And yet I revel in the fact that my body has been tested, I mean really tested, and I have come out as the winner. These legs have literally carried me through 1 2/3 pregnancies (Lord willing, soon to be 2 full pregnancies!), this back continues to hold photome up when my big ol’ belly threatens to tip me over forward,¬†these arms of mine carry my little girl when she wants to be close to her mama, these breasts provided¬†nourishment for our first child and will do the same for our second, my body has mended itself after being ripped and torn in places I still don’t like to think about, and this heart inside of me has grown by leaps and bounds and in ways I never knew possible.

I’m sure I could have that body I had before kids. It would take extra work, extra time, and less desserts, but I’ve seen other women who did it (although some of them also had surgery to help them out. sorry, I don’t count them). Or maybe I’ll just sit back, share a bowl of apple crisp a la mode with my daughter and choose to find beauty in myself, stretch marks and all.

moms lap birthday