As I watched my belly grow and stretch in ways I never dreamed possible last year, I was told over and over that my body would never be the same. I figured these loving and wise women were referring to the outer appearance of my tummy. ha. Little did I know.
I think they might have actually been alluding to the fact that my pelvic floor, no matter how many kegels I do, will never feel as strong and tight as it did pre baby. I didn’t realize how strong it was pre-baby because why would I think about such a thing? But now, 10 months after spending 22 hours in labor and 6.5 hours pushing a baby out while I could actually feel my muscles tearing open, I still get sore down yonder after a long walk/run/day. Maybe they were referring to the lack of bladder control I would have for quite some time. Yep. I’ve totally peed my pants on multiple occasions post pregnancy (and I’m not counting the times I coughed and a little came out). Or maybe, just maybe, some of them were speaking of the poop. While I was pushing, I remember hearing over and over–“push just like you’re pooping, just like you’re pooping!” Well, it seems that all that “pushing like you’re pooping” did something to my pooping mechanisms, as now, when I get the urge to poop, there had better be a bathroom within about half a second of me or I’m in trouble.
I write this because I had a particularly embarrassing moment today involving poop–embarrassing not because anyone knew (accept for all the people I shamefully walked by on the way home that could probably smell me) but embarrassing because I felt like all my dignity was stripped away and running down the back of my legs and onto the socks that I had to throw away at the park. Yes. I apologize if you are adverse to speaking about poop but this is really something I wish someone would have shared with me before it started happening for me. Like, “oh by the way, you might crap yourself after you deliver a child”.
Pregnancy and child birth changes things. My midwife comforted me afterwards by saying, “Well, the good news is you’re body will never be the same” referring to the fact that my tight runners pelvic muscles were now nice and stretched out and future babies should not be as tough. “Dignity” really goes out the window with all the crazy things that happen in pregnancy. And thats before you’re naked, moaning and panting, grunting and heaving, sweating, vomiting, pooping, bleeding and tearing as you bring a new life into the world. Any dignity you have after that, well, that goes out the window when you shit your pants on a walk 30 minutes from home with a baby strapped to your belly.
My right leg is covered in scars from epic adventures–a mishap trekking in the jungle in Thailand, a burn from a motorcycle exhaust in India, and some narly zigzags from rusty barbed wire on a trail run in South Africa. I wear those scars with pride. Why then, has my culture taught me to feel shameful about my mama scars? Why do I look in shame at the tummy’s of my friends who have not had babies and feel inadequate because mine is no longer as flat or because I have what I like to refer to as “maternal fat stores” on my hips for nursing. Why am I not taught to love these changes to my body–they are a reminder of the greatest gift. They are a reminder of how my body lovingly grew my son and the connection that only I share with him–that for a while, we were one. That his heart beat inside of me. That alone makes a crapping my pants worth it.
This is something I need to work on. I need to work on rejecting the notion that my body should look and behave exactly as it did pre-Leif. How could it? The moment he entered the world I felt a surge of life and love rush through me and I knew that nothing could ever be the same. I instantly understood more clearly my own mothers love. I knew that the 9 months of pregnancy and 22 hours of believing I was dying (from pain and exhaustion) was worth it. I’d do it again right then if I had to! Babies change your body. But they also change your heart. May I stop picking the image I see in the mirror apart and start celebrating my mama scars (and planning better routes so as always be be near a toilet or a bush).