I'm sure by now you've seen the photos of the beautiful Kate Middleton showing the world her beautiful baby less than eight hours after giving birth. Not only did she show the world her baby, but she also showed the world what only an angel must look like after just giving birth. Beautiful makeup, wavy hair, a slim figure that hardly shows any signs of postpartum pudge and the ability to stand in heels like a true goddess without her giant maxi pad falling out from under her.
I read a quote somewhere recently about how as women we are not meant to bounce back after a baby. That quote kept sticking with me as I shoved yet another cookie into my 11 month postpartum body that still holds quite the bit of pudge. I pull up numerous photos that show me days after having my baby and I look nothing close to what Kate Middleton did. I, like so many others, was swollen, tired and slap ass worn out. *I'm not even a fan of the way I look in the photo up above. How sad and critical is that when I should cherish the photo? We have to stop.
We are surrounded by the concept of "bouncing back after baby" everywhere from Kate Middleton's beautiful appearance to all of the magazine covers showing which celebrity has bounced back to a bikini six weeks after having a baby. We even come across fitness accounts where moms who had abs before their pregnancy are showing their stellar abs just three weeks after giving birth. Meanwhile I am over here wondering if I accidentally pushed my abs out alongside the baby during childbirth. #theywereneveractuallythere
All us non celebs are just shoving a cookie in our mouth because #momlife is all about survival and survival means grabbing crap food sometimes to make up for the things you don't get like 8 hours of sleep, a shower, a team of makeup artists and a hot coffee. Meanwhile we are having a mental war with ourselves over these two (okay four) cookies simply because we know we haven't "bounced back" yet. We don't look like the beautiful princess or the photoshopped magazine covers. Sigh.
Speaking of mental war, have we even begun to talk about the emotional side of bouncing back as well? Our minds are consumed with the desire to have a healthy baby while we are pregnant, that the flood of happy emotions you feel after having your child is then flooded with fear and anxiety to care for this child and give them the best. All of a sudden this human is yours to take care of and turn into a decent, law abiding citizen. Add in tons of hormonal changes and some of us are barely hanging on by a thread to mentally and emotionally "bounce back."
But to be quite honest, do we ever truly bounce back?
Do we ever truly have the exact body we had before or the exact mentality and range of emotions as we did prior to motherhood? I'd like to give that a big fat no.
You will never truly bounce back.
Whether it's physical changes or emotional changes that stick with you after baby, you'll never be quite the same. You'll never truly bounce back to the person you were before because now you're a mother. Your body has done the tremendous thing of growing and nourishing a human, of pushing out a human or having a major surgery for this human. Your body may still be nourishing this life well after childbirth and your hormones are all over the place. Your sleep will never be the same, your ability to just get up and go to the gym will never be the same and those cookies will likely become more precious over the years as you hide in the pantry from your toddlers to indulge and have seven minutes of heaven.
You my dear friend, will never be the same. You will forever be changed because you are a mother and it should forever be something that you fully embrace and carry on with your head held up high. You will love something more than you ever imagined and your self care will come last as you make sure that your children are well fed, healthy, warm and loved. There's even a really good chance your children will dress better than you on most days.
Take care of yourself and be healthy, but don't hold yourself to the standards of a princess or celebrity who has so many people hidden in the background. And don't think that underneath that beautiful red dress that the princess doesn't look a bloody hot mess like the rest of us.
Love yourself for who you are - a mother. Love yourself for what you've done, for what you do daily and for what you still have to do for the many, long days ahead.
Don't set yourself up for expectations of bouncing back when the reality of it is that we never truly fully bounce back. Embrace who you are now and work as you can on the parts that you want to improve. But don't improve them because society says you need a six pack and size four jeans, improve it to be just the best version of you that you can be so that you can be healthy and happy.
Bouncing is for kangaroos, and you're no kangaroo.
You're a mother. Embrace, grow and just be.