Stretch marks. Cellulite. Back rolls. Saggy boobs.
These are just a few of the many changes your body goes through while carrying life. I’ve experienced pregnancy 4 times now (5 if you count the 8 weeks I was pregnant before miscarrying last year) and my body has changed so much, sometimes I can barely recognize the person staring back at me in the mirror.
It has taken me a long time to accept (and love) the way my body looks now. And to be honest, I’m not sure if I would even have started to love my body the way I do now – if not for my husband. He has never made me feel less than, for the way my body has changed over the past 5 and a half years. He has always tried to make me feel beautiful – even when I’ve felt my ugliest.
He has gone out of his way to applaud my stretch marks and the way my body has stretched and grown to accommodate his growing children. When I’ve complained about my postpartum body, and when I’ve talked poorly about how my body looks after children – he’s corrected me and told me how beautiful I am and how lucky he is.
Sometimes I wonder what I did to deserve someone who loves me, unconditionally. Who loves my body throughout every stage and change. Who makes me feel like a million bucks when I’m wearing sweatpants and rocking a mom-bun. But every woman and every mama deserves someone who constantly makes them feel beautiful. Because, ladies, we ARE.
When I took some time to reflect on my body at the beginning of this pregnancy (thanks to my husband’s words), I started feeling tremendous gratitude.
Pregnancy is astounding. There are thousands of things that have to go right in order for us to even conceive. And once we do that, we go through months of sickness – for some women it lasts all 9 months. And then if we finally recover from the sickness, our bodies begin to stretch and grow and we make room for these beautiful babies. As their fingers and toes take shape, and their lungs begin to form, and their hair starts to grow – we carry them. We carry them until our bodies decide that it’s time for them to be welcomed into the world – and then our bodies go through even more changes.
If pregnancy is astounding, childbirth is miraculous. I’ve now given birth three times and each time has had a unique set of circumstances and experiences. Whether you’re induced or your labor starts naturally – whether you deliver vaginally or by c-section – the mere fact that a living, breathing human body comes from ours is breathtaking. Our bodies built those babies from cells to humans. How amazing is that?
And then our babies are born and we’re left bleeding for weeks. Passing blood clots. Stuck with water weight. Trying to figure out how to breastfeed with our new Pamela Anderson-esque boobs – which are constantly in pain and leaking milk all over the place. But have we taken a moment to appreciate that our bodies are literally changing and transforming to meet our newborn’s needs? And after 9 months of growing life and bringing life into this world… our bodies are able to heal themselves.
After I miscarried last year, I remember feeling like my body had failed me. I was so disappointed in my body. And now, I’m grateful and in awe of everything my body has been able to overcome and achieve. It’s truly a miracle and I wish I would have realized it sooner.
My husband and I are celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary this week and I wanted to do something extra special for him. While my best friend was in town and we were staying at a hotel, she pulled out her fancy camera and we took boudoir photos. I had been toying with the idea of a maternity boudoir shoot for a few months. I don’t think I would’ve been able to pose for photos like these with anyone else (let alone a stranger), so I was really grateful for her being on board with my idea!
I felt confident and sexy and comfortable in my skin when we were shooting the photos. It was a very empowering experience. After seeing the photos (especially some of the more intimate ones – not pictured), I was floored. The camera caught every detail – my stretch marks, back rolls, cellulite, every “flaw”. And I couldn’t help but feel PROUD. Every single “flaw” caught on camera tells the story of a body who has grown, stretched, endured tremendous pain, and never given up.
Mamas, pregnant or not – I highly suggest taking time to reflect on how incredible your body is. And if you want to feel incredibly empowered – do a boudoir shoot. Do it with someone you trust and you won’t regret it.