The Postpartum Body
As you may know, I recently gave birth for the third time. I’ve been lucky to have good birth experiences in the past and have been able to bounce back pretty well. Sure, I had to deal with all the usual things new moms deal with - baby blues, stretch marks, engorged breasts - but I could always gaze at my baby and say it was all worth it. I was so busy caring for my newborn that I barely noticed what my body looked like. This third time, however, has been different. This time I gave birth to a surrogate baby. Once she was born she was immediately handed off to her parents and I’ve been able to spend my postpartum period taking care of myself rather than a baby.
I was prepared to not have to take care of a baby. In fact, it’s been wonderful to be able to sleep without interruption and not have to worry about breastfeeding. But this means that my focus has been on myself and my changed body. I look in the mirror and wonder when the weight will come off and when I’ll be able to fit into my jeans again. Not taking care of a baby means I expect myself to jump right back into normal life and has given me insecurities about my body and its abilities that I never had to deal with in the past.
I’m not someone who has struggled a whole lot with body image issues. I’ve always felt pretty positive about the way I look. This is not to say that I have the perfect body, I definitely have flaws, but I’ve been able to embrace those flaws. I’ve been able to accept that God is my Creator and He saw fit to create me exactly as I am.
But we all know that insecurities can creep in and when a woman goes through the drastic changes of pregnancy and birthing, things may not look the same. The enemy can whisper lies about our worth. We can begin to believe that we are no longer beautiful. Society says we should whip our bodies back into shape and erase all evidence of ever having had any children, as if it’s something to be ashamed of. And I’m in that struggle. I want to appear normal to the world. I don’t have a cute baby to show off, so I want to show off a cute body instead. I can’t point strangers to a baby and say, “this is why my belly is currently saggy.” I feel that people will look at me and wonder why I look the way I do. But what does it matter? Why am I so fixated on what the world has to say? I know what my body has been through and I know that my body needs time to adjust. I just don’t have the distraction of a baby to keep my mind occupied.
So now I have to fight extra hard to fight those insecurities with truth. Jess Connolly said that her body is, “a tool for worship, not an object of worship.” Yes, my body is different. Yes, I would like to eat well and exercise to take off the extra weight and steward my body well. But no matter what my body ends up looking like the most important thing to remember is that my worth is not in what I look like. My worth is found in Jesus. I am covered by Him and loved by Him no matter what. And I will continue to use my body to worship Him.