How Motherhood Changed my Relation with my Body
There was a time when I used to hate my body with a fierceness that almost killed me. I suffered from Anorexia Nervosa as a teenager. When my eating disorder was at it's worst I weighed only 39 kilo's (85 pounds). It took extensive therapy for me to become healthy again and be able to live a fuller life, both figuratively and literally speaking. But it took becoming pregnant and giving birth to a little baby to actually start appreciating and respecting my body. Four and a half years later, this is where I am at.
You are fat
I guess every girl/woman has heard this (multiple times) in her life. "You are fat". It hurts, always. But it doesn't necessarily have to turn into an eating disorder. Many - many! - other variables contribute to whether or not someone develops an ED. For me, it was a deadly concoction of genetics, low self esteem, turbulent life events and negative experiences. Moving to the other side of the world, at the age of fourteen, probably had something to do with it. That particular ex boyfriend didn't help. Always feeling the need to be better, to achieve, to please, to FIT IN pushed me over the edge.
Like I said, many variables. And that's why it took an intensive couple of years of therapy to recover. To heal, both physically and mentally. I lost so many good years of my life to this horrible disease. Anorexia sucks everything out of you: it drains you, not only of your weight, but of your happiness, your energy and your will to live.
I always knew I wanted to be a mom. I was one of those kids that had a list of baby names by the age of twelve. A few years after I recovered from my ED I felt I was ready. Even though I had had a stable enough weight for a couple of years, my cycle took way longer to recover. I worked very hard to get my body in the right condition to become pregnant. It was around that time that I started to appreciate my body. Because I was taking care of it in a way I had never done before. I was taking care of it for my future baby. It stopped being all about me. It was bigger than me. It was a baby.
When I became pregnant I was over the moon. The appreciation for my body turned into gratitude. I felt so grateful to be pregnant. To have a body that was healthy enough to become pregnant. I realized this was nothing short of a miracle. So many women can't get pregnant, for various reasons. I realized I was lucky to be given a second change after all the damage the anorexia had done to my body.
And then she was born
And then Isaya was born. My first baby girl. Words can not describe how grateful and happy I was to become her mother. Her birth also meant a new relationship with my body. Giving birth I felt so strong. To be able to do that. To withstand all that pain, to push a tiny human out of your body. It is insane. My gratitude turned into respect. I was in awe of what not just my body, but the human body is capable of. How could I hate something so powerful. How could I misuse something so great?
After giving birth I breastfed Isaya for almost 16 months. Another humbling experience that brought me a step further in the relationship with my body. There was also "The Baby Weight". At first I was curious as to how I would "react" to these extra kilos. Being a recovering anorectic and all.. But I soon realized that weight was there for a reason. I needed it to be able to breastfeed, because that takes up so much energy!. And I needed it to be strong, so I could carry my baby for hours and hours on end.
Motherhood and Body Image
It's been 4,5 years since this journey, of transforming the relationship with my body, started. I am a mother times two. Two beautiful, healthy little girls. I am grateful beyond believe. Isaya and her baby sister Alela are the light of my life. They give me purpose and bring me joy. I love them with every inch of my being. A love so big and often terrifying, but the greatest love a human being can ever know.
To say that "I love my body" may be a stretch. I am almost 5 months postpartum and recovering from a second birth has it's challenges. But feeling strong - so I can carry my daughters and breastfeed Alela - takes precedence over looking a certain way and seeing a certain number on the scale, every single day. Motherhood has changed the way I look at my body. I no longer am my body. What I mean by that is that it is not directly connected to my self worth and how I perceive myself. I now live through my body. My body makes it possible to live the life I want. My body enables me to live, to love, to grow, to learn, to be free and experience happiness. That makes me and my body best buddies.