Mother of four, Sarah Landry, shares her own experience accepting her changing shape. Highs and lows, burgeoning belly and stretch marks alike. A candid account from one mama to another, she champions the art of moving through body shaming to arrive at a place of confidence and love for our bodies.
Meet Sarah AKA @thebirdspapaya
Let’s backtrack a little bit though, break this down a little, peel the layers of this postpartum onion - if you will. There’s a quote by Riley Laster that I adore. It sums up the beginning of this entire thing. The “thing” being: why we feel so uncomfortable in a changed body after birth. Especially given the amount of glory that body received as it grew a child to birth.
“Pregnancy is such a trip. The same belly that people admire while it grows and stretches to house your baby will be the same exact belly that people scrutinize when it’s not flat enough to fit society’s version of beauty after your baby is born” - Riley Laster
The thing with shame (including body shame) is, layering onto it never works. It doesn’t solve the problem. Many women, myself included, have felt shame for carrying body shame. You recognize that your body has done something amazing, wonderful, beautiful by bringing life into the world, but you also recognize that the world scrutinizes bodies in a way that makes you feel incredibly lost, pressured or shame-filled when the bounce back isn’t happening for you, or you’re simply just adjusting.
This is where grief comes in.
Grief, a processing tool for loss and change.
Grief, as it turns out, can co-exist with gratitude.
You can be grateful for what your body has done, and struggle for how it looks now too.
A bounce forward.
My body has changed a thousand times since I was a teenager. Then motherhood, well, it just happened all so fast. Then
again, and again. It took me a long time to find comfort and joy and neutral thinking towards my body. A long time.
So to sit here now 9 months postpartum with my 4th, a decade later after the first 3 and I’m back in it. I’m back in the arena.
I’m back in the grief and the gratitude.
It’s a full-blown identity crisis. The body I had worked to know and love, changed before my very eyes. My clothes didn’t fit, my mind was working rapidly to try and comprehend the change. I am tired. My body, weaker. My time, used up.
So where’s the good part? Where’s the part where we get to move through this, and move into a place of confidence and love
for our bodies?
Well, for me, I had to do all things as an action.
Love is one word that means many things.
It can be butterflies in your stomach. It can be an overwhelming feeling of connection. It also can be, showing up and acting in
love, even when the feeling parts of it just aren’t there. We’ve known love as an action many times in our lives before.
The surrender into the poop stains and exhaustion of motherhood, the picking up the socks of partnership. Love is action,
Sometimes, we need to remember that for ourselves, too.
Sometimes, we need to not feel love, but still act in love.
Confidence, same deal.
“How are you so confident?” they ask me repeatedly when they see a sagging belly, an increased waist size and stretch marks
to my ribcage. The reality is, confidence is not something I’ve waited to feel. Confidence is my action. It
exists. It is in the audacity to be present, living and thriving in the one life I have, even amidst feelings of body shame or grief.
As the early 2010’s would say YOLO, I say it to us all a little more genuinely.
We have one life.
We live it once.
We get only a single shot at the memories we deserve to make.
Postpartum body change is a lot to digest.
But, as someone who sidelined herself the first 3x to it, I know too well, I don’t get the opportunities at those memories back
So I show up.
An action, before a feeling.
You’ve brought life into the world, mama. That is a miracle in itself. Let’s take a moment to be grateful for what our bodies are
capable of. Let’s “bounce forward,” as Sarah sagely suggests. Our bodies have changed a thousand times over, and they’ll
continue to change as we grow and evolve. Let’s give ourselves a little grace for existing just as we are. Perfectly. Wholly.