After: The Sun Sets

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
-Lao Tzu

Normally my “after” blogs chronicle more of my life after baby goes home. But to be honest there’s nothing new to say. They went home, I had an adjustment period without a belly and dealing with my milk coming in. Hormones suck.

I want to talk about a postpartum reality I hear talked about very little. Bare with me.

During pregnancy I LOVE my body (of course this may be different for others). I feel powerful and beautiful. I snapped this photo days before Sky was born so I could always remember my body as a home for another life, especially since I don’t know if I’ll ever have another baby.

Stretch marks, bags under my eyes, swollen feet. Reality.

After baby was born my photographer (BLESS HER) made sure to grab some reality photos. I am actually really very grateful for these pictures because I never see anything like them online. Watching blood loss, fundal massage, the painful realities of the first hours after birth.

Shout out to Melissa who actually has very strong, yet soft hands that touch with grace and understanding! Nurses are amazing. Also my husband who through five births, has never once left my side after delivery, even back when they were his children, he understands the hardships of postpartum and is the picture of support.

Two days postpartum I photographed my body again:

My sons would poke my belly and ask about how soft it was, ask about my uterus size and caringly ask if I was in pain. I was. My hips trying to shift back into place, along with my organs. Milk coming in with no baby to feed but pumping regularly to help my uterus heal. Good news is I was sleeping 7-10 hours a night with no baby to wake up with.

At two weeks postpartum I photographed again:

Back to my pre-pregnancy weight and clothes. Really feeling myself…

Can you spot the lie? I’ll let you in on a secret. Pregnancy is when I am at my healthiest. I eat well (if I’m not sick), I drink the recommended amount of water. I take care of my body as I’m sharing it with someone who needs me.

Post-partum anorexia is a real thing. When people say to me “Holy crap! Look how tiny you are! So lucky! You look great!” I smile and say “genetics” as I shrug my shoulders. I’m not totally lying, my mother passed her anorexia and hate for her body on to me at a very young age. This is my reality. I am obsessed with a number on the scale. Other peoples comments on my body feed me instead of food. I thrive on the compliments of a thin body. This is my generational trauma.

The daily struggle to NEVER talk about my body in front of my children makes it worse. I internalize my feelings so much so that unless close friends or my husband ask me the last time I’ve eaten, it’s not even a thought in my mind. But I recognize it, I acknowledge it, and I strive to do better everyday. Every time I see the scale in the corner of the bathroom, I fight the urge to step on it. I want to be as healthy as I am when I’m pregnant. I want to love my body everyday, in every form. And more than anything, I want to break the cycle and not pass my illness to my daughter.

This of course, is not everyones reality of postpartum. But it is my truth, and if there is one thing that this journey has taught me, it’s that there is power in speaking your truth.

My relationship with food, and my own body are so complicated. As a Chef (when I’m not doing my Doula thing), I LOVE food. I love to cook and cut and play and taste. I love to try new ways of cooking, new ways of plating. I love trying different combinations of flavors especially if it doesn’t sound like something I would normally eat. When I invite you to my table, we’re family. If I cook for you, I love you. Food is my love language.

And yet I can go days without having any food. I cook for my family, and my friends, hell I get paid to cook. Yet it seems I almost feel that I don’t deserve that love and careful preparation of nourishment for myself. I have no idea where or when this idea was placed in my brain. I’m not sure who put that thought there or why I continue to let it linger. My own instagram is filled with beautiful (if I do say so myself) food that I lovingly cooked and plated, all well thought out before stepping into the kitchen.

Changing the narrative in my own brain around food is going to be a very long journey. But 2019 has been a year of healing, release, understanding and growth. I’m ready to take on this very personal challenge and can almost breath a sign of relief for finally saying it out loud (figuratively).

Speak your truth. Share your pain. You’re not alone, I know I’m not.

You can read my other stories here:

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