My alarm goes off. I look over and it’s 5:34 AM. My thoughts shift to my four month old son. I can’t believe he let me sleep in this long. My “fur” family isn’t even awake at this point. I gently scoop my baby boy in my arms and carry him to his changing table. I quietly and carefully remove his green, cloth diaper, wipe him down and replace the insert and cover. He snuggles into my chest as I carry him back to the bed to nurse him.
I prop him on my Boppy pillow and he forcefully latches. Just as our normal morning routine goes, I turn on the television to the morning news to check the weather. I normally mute the commercials, but this time something catches my attention…
“New Year? New You! Only your children should see you as a mommy. Schedule your ‘Mommy Makeover’ today!”
Living in the Hampton Roads area, (which includes Virginia Beach, VA), this type of commercial does not surprise me. There are more than a few plastic surgeons in the area, offering a wide variety of services. From liposuction to face and body lifts, they offer it all. I can see why plastic surgeons would bring in good business because of the beaches and vacation spots nearby.
For some reason, this commercial made me sick to my stomach. I felt like this commercial was somehow preying on already self-conscious, new mothers because after having a baby their bodies change. Not only did mother become the prey, but they were stereotyping mothers in the process by implying that all mothers were ashamed of their bodies after giving birth. Are they assuming that all mothers have a poor body image?
With pregnancy, a woman gains weight than loses weight. A woman’s body changes and transforms, but is this any reason to single out new moms, who could essentially be negatively influenced to think badly about themselves and otherwise wouldn’t have thought this way if they hadn’t seen this commercial? (I fully understand the marketing tactic and I’m not judging any mother for getting or wanting plastic surgery, just FYI.)
Somewhere along the way, my feelings about myself have changed. Some days I get hard on myself, (particularly when I get out of the shower and I’m standing naked in front of the mirror), and I get depressed about my sagging skin and stretch marks. I’m four and a half months postpartum and I still look five to six months pregnant. Other days, (most days), I get furious at the plastic surgery commercials and have an epiphany:
My mommy body is a freaking machine. It’s a power house. It carried my beautiful son while he was growing for nine months. I essentially built a tiny human. My body still provides him nourishment through breastfeeding. Even if a mother has to or chooses to formula feed, she still uses her energy to care for her baby and make a bottle.
A mother’s body is a fortress; a temple. It is something to be proud of, not be ashamed of. Stretch marks are scars that signify the memories of our pregnancy; the memory of our child(ren) growing inside our bellies. Breasts that accidentally lactate at the wrong moment are not something to be embarrassed over.
With it being the beginning of the year and instead of promising myself to lose [insert number] of pounds, I choose to promise myself that I will love and embrace myself, inside and out. I will eat healthier for myself and my son, (he will be eating solids soon and we might as well eat together healthfully), and not concentrate on the number of pounds that I need to lose. Daily, I will walk and practice yoga with my son, Beau. I will be happier and healthier mentally. My body might have transformed itself into something that I never thought it was going to turn into, but my mindset on how I choose to see myself has changed for the better.
So, I say to you moms: When you look into the mirror, see yourselves and love everything you see as an imperfection. Your body and minds are strong. You are a mother. If your body was a character in a Star Wars episode, you would be the force.