Getting To Know Our Bodies

When I was pregnant, my mind couldn’t stop going back to health class. It astounded me all the things they left out. It was like our bodies were these secrets meant to be kept, which unfortunately means that so many of us are completely left in the dark.

Perhaps it was my Catholic School’s policy of abstinence is the best and only true form of birth control, but if I am being honest, not too many of the teachers really pushed this, and they were more than willing to answer any questions that may have popped up about sex and everything that goes along with it. The curriculum left a lot in the shadows.

It wasn’t until I went on mommy blogs and forums that I realized that I wasn’t the only one. There were remarks like “Your first period after giving birth will be heavier because all that blood has been stored up.” As though there is a dam in there that has remained closed, all the blood you are supposed to be shedding pooling up behind it, waiting to be released. Other things like “I thought all women could breastfeed, regardless of whether they’ve had a baby.” And “I don’t understand why women can’t just hold in their periods until they have to go to the bathroom.” Really shines a light on how our education has failed us in letting us fully understand our bodies.

There is so much about myself that has me baffled, parts of my own reproductive system that I had no clue about and still wouldn’t know if I hadn’t gotten pregnant.

Even after giving birth, if I hadn’t had a nurse who told me everything and a sister who was also a nurse there would be a lot of questions floating around in my head with no answers.

So many different things impact what can be considered normal for us. Our birth control, our hormones from breastfeeding, all of these things will make a difference to what is normal and what will become our normal after we give birth and become parents.

A lot of women think that bleeding that happens after you give birth is a regular period, and that is why they are confused at how much more they may bleed compared to what was normal for them before. It is something specific to giving birth and it is called Lochia which is the shedding of everything inside your uterus that has been used to nurture and grow your baby. It is going to be heavier, but it isn’t a regular period and it doesn’t mean that your periods following will be heavier from then on.

Our bodies stretch and rip and break, but they heal and bounce back.

It opened my eyes to the kind of parent I want to be. I want to be open and honest with my daughter when the time comes. I want to be the kind of house where she can ask us about sex and her body and not feel shame or embarrassed. I want her to understand herself, inside and out. There are too many women and men out there who are embarrassed to go to the doctors when something is wrong with their reproductive organs. So many people afraid to ask questions.

Although I have never been a shy person, I never had that openness with my mother. We would joke when I got into my teens, but I couldn’t imagine asking her a second related question, or just about my body in general.

To this day, there are parts of my own vagina I wouldn’t be able to label if you asked me. I am 28 years old. It seems like I should know anything and everything about my body at this point. The fact that I don’t, is really sad and confusing.

We can push for our schools to teach our children, but there will always be parents uncomfortable. Parents who think that knowledge about sex goes hand in hand with participating in sex. Parents who will always be uncomfortable with their children learning to be free with their bodies.

That’s fine. Everyone has their own hang ups.

However, if you are not one of these people, and even if you are, I can’t stress the importance of teaching your children about their bodies. Teach them about the bodies of the opposite sex. Sure, your son may never have to have a baby or a child, but someone they love may one day, and knowing what they are going through knowing how their body shapes and changes in this time will better help them understand, and be stronger shoulders to lean on.

Our bodies are these amazing things, and we shouldn’t be ashamed of them. We should know all there is to know about them, things that some people think are icky shouldn’t seem that way, it should be the norm because we should be talking about them as though they aren’t taboo.

I am more confident in my body after having my daughter, after seeing all that it is capable of. My body is amazing, capable of amazing things. Sure, it’s scarred, it’s worn, it’s sore more often than not, I have cellulite, and there are parts of my skin that are more flabby than tone and tight, but it’s mine. And it’s given me the most amazing gift!

All of our insecurities are there because we are told they should be, because we see what the world thinks bodies should look like and we don’t fit the mould. Beauty standards aren’t standard beautiful comes in all shapes and sizes and I feel like knowing all we can about our bodies can help build confidence in our bodies and ourselves.

Get to know your body, so you can teach your children to know theirs.

How Pregnancy and Becoming A Mother Has Changed My Confidence

Last night I was sitting on the couch with a fussy baby on my breast. Scrolling through the many options on Netflix, I was hoping to find something humorous that I didn’t have to 100% pay attention to and still follow. I settled on the movie I Feel Pretty starring Amy Schumer. 

The movie had a lot of laughs, but it also got me thinking about body imaging and how social media, shows, celebrities all affect our confidence and body image. It can be so toxic. 

Amy Schumer may not have the ideal body that advertising and Instagram pushes, but she is not outside of the norm for so many of us. Her body is relatable to so many, and it is beautiful. Yet, this movie made it seem as though we should laugh at her having confidence in a body that isn’t the typical hour-glass figure society wants us all to strive for. 

Every day is a battle for women to cling to confidence and not to succumb to what the world around us tells us is beautiful. As a woman, and as a mother to a baby girl, I find the very thought of beauty terrifying. I know that somewhere down the line I am going to have to wipe tears from under my daughter’s eyes because she may not fall into the category of beautiful every outlet out there pushes at women. 

Pre-Pregnancy I was skinny. 

My body was athletic and thin. I often had women ask me if I ate, or what my secret was. Both were equally frustrating questions. We are hardwired to crave smaller bodies, to want curves with minimal fat, wide-set hips, a full bottom and heavy breasts. Passive aggressive comments are made to those people we find too heavy, and people we find too thin. There really is no winning, and it’s shameful the way we, as a society, make women feel. 

Despite having a small waist, and being thin, I still didn’t have confidence in my body. I often would have people walk up to me, especially older women, and wrap their hands around my waist, commenting on how thin I was. They would comment when they hugged me, at the size of my clothes “Did you buy that in the kid’s section?” no matter where I turned, there was always someone commenting on my body in one way or another. In some ways, being skinny is worse to someone who doesn’t have high self-esteem or confidence in their body because it is somehow more acceptable for people to comment on how thin and skinny people are as opposed to people with a larger body type. If you aren’t confident in your body, there are people reminding you of it every single day, as those comments are completely acceptable. 

Pre-pregnancy I struggled to maintain my weight. I have an over-active thyroid and because of that, if there were days when I didn’t eat as much as I should have I felt as though I could see that on my body, that I could feel it in my energy and how I went through my day. 

When I got pregnant, weight was definitely something I worried about. I worried whether I would be able to put on the weight my baby needed. Whether my baby would get enough nutrition or whether I would be on all sorts of supplements to help me through this important time in my life. I was lucky to gain all the weight needed, and then some. 

I gained weight slowly in the beginning. Through the first five months of my pregnancy there was no one that knew I was pregnant. I kept it to myself for two major reasons. The first reason was because I thought it was a nice bond that was being built between my husband and I. Having this secret between us, such a happy secret, really pulled us closer together. The other reason was that I knew the comments I would get. People telling me I was too thin and not putting on the weight I needed to be in those early stages of my pregnancy. I didn’t need the judgements of others adding onto the anxieties I already had. 

For whatever reason, the outside world gets to have all these opinions about women’s bodies. 

During pregnancy, if you weren’t the kind of person that radiated confidence before, chances are, your confidence levels are going to drop. I think the main reason for all of this is because of the major changes your body goes through and with each change that happens there is one questions that repeats itself in the back of your mind, over and over and over. 

“Is this normal?”

The problem with this question is that we all put ourselves in these comparison columns where we compare every change to other women we know or see that are going through the same thing forgetting the most important fact: we may be going through the same thing, but we are not the same. 

Every single woman is different. Even my sister and I who only have two years separating us, are as different as can be. Night and day. As were our pregnancy experiences. As are our body types, and body images. 

It’s important to keep reminding yourself that there is no normal, just what is normal for you. 

My body went through a lot of changes during my pregnancy, and my confidence went through changes right along with it. At the beginning, I felt my body was still mine. Sure, I was nauseous all the time, but outside of that, I still looked like me. 

My confidence was as it always was. Not the greatest, but still there at times. I kept wondering when I would start to show. When would I finally get breasts, something I had always been lacking in my life? When would I get a little bump? Would I balloon out of control? Something my sister said she did although I always thought she gained weight normally. Or would I stay more myself? I had so many questions at the beginning and as much as we don’t want to admit it, a lot of our confidence as women is tied to what we look like and our bodies. 

At 28 weeks I was probably my most confident. I had the bump I wanted, my breasts were looking pretty nice if I do say so myself, and I had gained a good amount of weight. My doctor was happy with my progress, and that made me happy. In the back of my mind, I was still a little worried I would get a lot of stretch marks. My sister had a lot, she had them on her belly, on her breasts, on her arms, she even got them behind her knees. My sister has a lighter complexion than me, more pale like my mother so her stretch marks were angry and red. I remember that being something I worried about a lot in the beginning. Would I get those?

I worried whether my body would be so changed after becoming a mom that it would shatter the small amount of confidence I had. Or would my post-pregnancy body make me see myself the way Amy Schumer’s character saw herself after she hit her head during a spin class?

I took a photo of myself right before heading to the hospital to deliver. Towards the end of my pregnancy I was too exhausted for confidence to even register in my brain. My feet were swollen, none of my clothes fit, I had a lot more discharge, I was tired, hungry…. if I had confidence, or a lack there of, it was a mystery to me.

In the days that followed I was exhausted, sore, and uncomfortable but bigger than all of that was my happiness. I was a mom, I couldn’t believe it. I was also amazed at how quickly my stomach shrunk while breastfeeding. I forced myself to take a postpartum photo. 

Today I have been a mom for 2 months and 10 days. My weight seems to stay at 130lbs which I am happy with since my goal weight pre-pregnancy was 125lbs. I look more like myself but have extra weight in the places I always wanted.

So how is my confidence?

It goes up and down. 

The skin on my stomach is darker than the rest from stretching to accommodate my baby. The skin, although shrinking back, is looser than I am used to and honestly I struggle with accepting this. I don’t need it to go back to what it was, I just… if I’m being honest I’m not entirely sure what I want or need for my confidence to build up to a place where it doesn’t negatively affect my happiness. 

It’s a journey and I’m finding my way. Hopefully I figure it out soon. The grey weather is also weighing on me a bit. I’d love to just be out enjoying my new mommy life but feel a bit restricted. 

For any new moms reading this or mommies to be, just know that you are beautiful and we are all amazing! Everything else we will figure out as we go.

One Week PostPartum
Today: 2 Months, 10 Days PostPartum

Changing Bodies


Pre-pregnancy, I was thin. My mother once made a joke about my body type when I was in my teens. She told me that I was a carpenter’s dream because I was flat as a board and never been nailed. Yes, this is the kind of relationship I had with my mother, saying things like this to me was the norm and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Bringing it up here seems appropriate because it makes me realize that even my own mother was just pretending to parent. She did what she thought was best, as I will most likely do.

The above picture is technically not pre-pregnancy. I took those photos at 5 weeks pregnant. Not much about my body had changed at that point. Believe it or not, my boobs were bigger than before I got pregnant (yes, I know) and I noticed my waistline was becoming a little more wide.

Before I got pregnant there weren’t too many things going on with my body that had me pausing and going “hmm”. My weight was constant, lower than I wanted it to be due to an over-active thyroid, but it was pretty constant. The biggest issue I had was acne, which was controlled by my birth-control. However, when I became stressed or over-tired, my birth control couldn’t keep a few blemishes from popping up here and there.

For the most part, I knew my own body.

Enter pregnancy.

From the very start of my pregnancy I have noticed changes. First there was the tense, bloated tummy that I felt like I couldn’t even put weight on. Then there was the constant erupting of gas. The sensitive nipples, the swelling boobs. And this was all just in the first month of pregnancy.

As I dove deeper into the waters of pregnancy, I realized that was only the tip of the iceberg.

My nipples became these massive angry beasts. Darker with areolas doubled, almost tripled in size. I got this dark racing strip down my belly. I am not 100% sure what this is for, but I think it is like a landing strip to show the doctor where the new arrival will be coming in a few more months. Worse, I noticed thick, black hairs down that line…


With all the hair growth, the swelling, the soreness… I thought, alright. I am pregnant. I am making a baby over here people, leave me alone. I was coming around, shrugging off all the changes.

Until the other night.

I had spent the day out with a girlfriend wearing yoga tights that may have been a tad snug in the waistband. As soon as I got home that night I stripped them off to hop in the shower.

Ever since I got pregnant, I have this habit of pausing in front of the mirror before I hop in the shower to see just how much my body is changing. It was then, my eyes dropped just under my belly and my brow furrowed.

Below my growing belly was a fanny pack. A jiggly bit below my bikini line. Reaching down, I touched and poked at it. What the hell was this? Was it swollen from wearing tights all day? I mean, the waistband would have been pushing down where my abdomen still looked thin under my belly and then this new juicy bit… it just felt full.

Letting out a defeated sigh, I got in the shower thinking it was probably just swollen and would return to normal.

Of all the nights, my husband decided to hop into the shower with me that night. He started to chat about his day and soap my belly when he paused and poked at the same fanny pack I had been poking at earlier.

No comment.

Now before people reading this judge him, this is just the kind of relationship my husband and I have. We approach everything with a light-hearted attitude. We laugh over the things we can’t change, we joke constantly.

Before he said anything, I threw my head back, covered my face with my hands and moaned dramatically. “I know! What the fuck is that?” I wailed.

My husband, being the same man I fell in love with just continued to shower. “More of you to love?” He said.

I couldn’t help but laugh as I looked at him. We then went into a full conversation on how it was jiggly and odd but something neither of us could change so why fuss over it.

Getting out of the shower, it was still there but I felt better.

As women we go through so much when we get pregnant. So much of it is physical, but a huge chunk of it is emotional.  We are so sensitive. Our bodies become these baby making factories working around the clock, pumping and trying to process all these hormones, trying to figure out where everything will move to, grow, and make our little bundles of joy.

I have and always will be an insanely dramatic person. Not in the way that would make you shudder or anything like that, but I am loud, I am not opposed to doing something in public that I know will make a fool of myself if it is something I want to do or something that will make someone else happy. I am outspoken, and stubborn, and when it comes to my husband, I am the throw myself on the floor and moan until he acknowledges me type of person.

With pregnancy, a lot of this drama has taken an emotional turn. Where I used to laugh at myself, I find myself getting teary eyed. When I used to shrug things off, I am obsessing for hours, even days. With every change to my body, I find I am thrown into an emotional battle with myself.

Every day I put on my smile and pretend I am still the same person I was before I got pregnant. I am not sure why. It’s like I only allow myself to be uncomfortable and 100% pregnant when I am inside my own home with my husband. I think it’s important to find some outlet, someone to talk to about all the weird things that throw us through loops during this time so we don’t completely drive ourselves crazy.

Maybe then we can all stop pretending we know what we are doing or that we are fine, and will get that much closer to actually being okay.