July 11, 2016
My 3-Year Old Postpartum Body
David Rydbom

Do you know what I did for my son’s 3rd birthday?

I got naked.

Now, before you jump to naked Mom streaks through kiddie pool full of toddlers, I want to clarify.

I got naked for myself.

As I was scrambling to finish decorations, assigning jobs to my stepson, making sure my youngest wasn’t tearing into his presents, I realized that it was 5 minutes before guests were arriving and I was still half way in my pajamas and greasy. Messy buns that don’t stay on your head because the oil from your hair is pulling it down, was not the look I was going for that day.

After rinsing frantically in the shower and grabbing clothes, I caught my reflection in the mirror. There I was, totally naked and I needed to look.

I realized in that moment a whole flood of truths. It was my birthday too. I was 3-years deep into motherhood. 3-years postpartum and I can remember like it was yesterday. There were some parts of my body that were never going to change. I knew that my eyes were always going to stay golden brown, that all my scars were there for life, but other than that, I was staring at a body that has taken me in and gotten me out of millions of moments, and was forever changed.

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I know exactly how fast you need to move to make it from the service line to base on the left side of a volleyball court if you want to play scrappy defense. I know how hard you can push your lungs when running up trails to reach the view at the top. I know that when you live in a foreign country, you always have to look like you know where you’re going. Walk straight and true. I know how much patience you need to have when you’re waiting for a baby to come into this world. I also know how long you can feel pain and still make it out alive, emotionally, mentally, and physically.

What I didn’t know was how much my eyes would change to what I see, now. What I see standing in front of me is a body that deserves honoring. My legs have been peppered with cellulite since I was 13, but they have also, without fail, brought me millions of steps to this moment. My stomach has helped me push a child into this world and it will now always be softer and gentler than the stomach that allowed me to play 14 years of high-level volleyball. My bottom and hips are fuller and rounder than they were 4 years ago, but for that I have a bottom and hips that can hold a 3-year old when he needs love. I can hold onto him for days on end without tiring. The stretch marks are journey-ways that cover my body. They remind me that my body grew so that I could bring a brilliant boy into this world.

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So there I was, naked, guests arriving, and I needed to say thank you. Thank you to a body that so fiercely protected me wherever I asked it to go. When I sit down now, I feel my stomach peek over the top of my pants. I feel my breasts hang a bit lower from breastfeeding. I still have to clench my bladder muscle mid-major jump rope fest just in case some pee trickles out. But, all-in-all, there is nothing about me that I would change.

As I was overhearing conversation during the party, I heard my mother-in-law talking to a couple of our friends about the qualities that make me kind (such as the person most-likely to give someone an enema). What? I had to giggle. I realized that, what I hope she meant was that I was always willing to adapt and adjust to what was needed. My body’s best quality had the same characteristics. It has adjusted and adapted to what I asked of it, no matter what the request.

Part of being a mother is listening when it’s the hardest thing to do. However, in the relentless lesson that is patience, my 3-year mother-birthday has given me permission to say, “You have done enough.” I will always ask my body to be strong and to be functional. I will take more time to honor the way it heals and changes. I will listen to it. I am forever thankful for where it has taken me and where we will go. It’s one of the greatest gifts I have ever received.