Last weekend I was in the bathroom drying off after my shower. I hung my towel up and looked at my naked body in the huge mirror. Mentally I tore my appearance to shreds. I started as always with my face, next, I moved on to my breasts and finally to my stomach. Despair washed over me. I told myself that I look like crap and wondered where the old semi reasonable looking me had gone.
I heard a noise and looked up. Aaron was standing in the doorway of the bathroom looking at me. I was about to make a comment to him about how terrible I look, when he smiled and said, “Mmm looking good baby”. My first thought was to tell him that not only did I feel like crap, but that I looked like it as well. My second thought was to tell him that he is only saying that to me because he has to. After a few seconds of silence, I summoned up a smile, thanked him and he went back to the living room to check on Ollie.
I was met with my own tired green eyes and underneath them, large deep dark circles. These dark circles are testament to the fact that I have barely slept through the night in nearly two years. Yes, Ollie is just about to turn one however from the very early days of my pregnancy, lack of sleep has been a big issue for me. Not only due to the constant runs to the bathroom to pee but also my constant nausea thanks to my all day sickness and nerves.
These days, I will not leave the house without putting on make up. I’ve always been blessed with clear skin so make up hasn’t ever been a ‘requirement’ for me to go out and about. Wearing under eye corrector and/or concealer is now a non negotiable for me. After all, I don’t want to look as tired or bad as I feel. The last time I went out without eye make up on, someone asked me how long I’d been sick for. Ouch.
From my face, my gaze shifted down to my breasts. I am what you could describe as a classic late bloomer. I didn’t have any growth in the boob region until I was around 15. I used to hope and pray that one day I would have boobs instead of just a couple of mosquito bites on my chest. Well, it turns out that maybe I wished a little too hard. I went from absolutely nothing on my chest, to quite sizeable almost overnight. By the time I was in my second year of university, my quite sizeable had become actually sizeable and had become the bane of my existence.
You can surely imagine what effect breast feeding for the last year has had. Size wise, things are as terrifying as I had expected they would be. So right now, you’re probably thinking, oh big deal so your big breasts are now really big… Right? Well, they are both not really big. Actually, it’s just one. From his very early days, my Ollie showed a clear preference for my right side when feeding. From what I understand, this is very common. His preference which started out by him not feeding as much on the left side after a few months became complete refusal on that side. Instead, he would look up at me, smile and bite. Ow. I’ve been feeding exclusively on the right side for at least the last few months. What this means is that my left boob is now back at its original size and my right side, is well, not. I’m finding the size difference between right and left to be just a tad alarming.
South of my girls is of course my tummy area. During pregnancy I had a couple of very tiny stretch marks (that I could see). They were faint and quite fine in their appearance. Imagine my surprise when I realised that was not in fact the case. A month or two after Ollie was born, I noticed that I in fact was the (not so proud) owner of not only a bunch of rather angry looking stretch marks but also a little belly pouch of sorts. Yes, the stretch marks have faded in colour over the last year however they remain VERY visible to me. The belly pouch has refused to move despite the fact that I am now lighter than my pre-pregnancy weight. Sigh.
Now, I understand full well that when put in perspective, my body gripes shouldn’t matter in the overall scheme of things. Most days, I don’t have time to scrutinise myself in the mirror, heck, some days I can’t remember if I’ve brushed my teeth or not. I know that my body is amazing, it allowed me to carry a baby and despite existing on little sleep, it keeps on keeping on (nice work body!). I am grateful for everything it has done and continues to do for me.
When Aaron looks at me, he sees ME. He doesn’t focus on my tired eyes, mismatched breasts and tummy ‘situation’. To him, my tired eyes are a visible sign of my dedication to our baby boy. He doesn’t look at my breasts and feel repulsed. Instead, he looks at them and thinks… Wow….. BOOBS! On the odd occasion that I’ve commented to him on the appearance of my stomach, he has responded by telling me that I look great and that I’ve had a baby. He doesn’t find me unattractive, in fact he is forever telling me how amazing I look and what an incredible mother I am.
Going forward, I am going to make a concerted effort to not focus on what I perceive to be the negative aspects of my appearance. I will try to criticise myself less and to be more positive about my body. This is an ongoing issue for me and clearly something that I need to channel my energy into. I’m going to try to see myself as my husband does….. Minus the boob ogling that is.