After my first and second babies my body regained its shape fairly easily. My third pregnancy changed everything. I gained this special extra roll of skin right below my bra — and it has never gone away and I don’t think it will. Not only that, but my body didn’t just “bounce back” like it had before.
Flash forward through four more pregnancies and there are added stretch marks, much saggier breasts, wider hips, thicker thighs, and stretched out stomach muscles that make my younger daughters still ask me if “there’s a baby in my tummy.” I laugh and try to explain to them about what happens to a balloon once it has been filled with air, emptied, filled with air, and emptied repeatedly. It never truly regains its shape but stays stretched out. They seem to get it, but I still get asked. *sigh*
Enter Jennifer Garner. Celebrity Mom of three who last week appeared on Ellen to promote her upcoming movie. When asked about the rumors circulating of her possibly being pregnant, Jennifer referred to her “baby bump” by calling it the names of her three children — meaning that her body shape was now different as a result of pregnancy.
What a breath of fresh air. I get tired of the tabloids excitedly posting pictures of celeb Moms who, barely two weeks after birth, appear at some function looking as coiffed and perky as ever. In my rational mind I know that make-up, spanx, personal hairdressers and airbrushing can do wonders, but I still find myself silently comparing myself to them and/or feeling angst over their seeming accomplishment.
Pregnancy, labor, delivery, and the postpartum period are all very real, earthy, womanly experiences. They change a woman in very fundamental and permanent ways that can’t be undone with an airbrush.
It has taken me almost 11 years, but I’ve come to accept and — almost — embrace that extra roll of skin under my bra because it reminds me of what I’ve done, sacrificed, learned, given, and become. And while I don’t feel the need to be validated by anyone else, I’m always happy when another woman also comes to realize and accept the beautiful and wonderful changes made to her body as a result of producing life. Well done Jennifer!