TW: Body image

These days, I feel soft, like an egg with its shell peeled off.

This post-pregnancy body of mine doesn’t feel familiar. It’s weak, it’s soft, and it doesn’t fit into the pretty clothes in my closet anymore. Change is inevitable, but grappling with the suddenness of blowing up like a waddling balloon, deflating into a different shape, then trying to manage the permanent side effects of pregnancy (nothing to do with weight), is causing a disconnect in my brain.

I love my kids dearly, and I will never regret having them, but I’m having a hard time feeling like myself. When I look in the mirror, I feel like the person looking back is not me.

Logically, I know that my body is still changing. I’ve read somewhere that it takes 2-5 years for the body to fully recover from a single pregnancy, and it takes longer with each subsequent child. I’m feeling that keenly. It’s been a year and a half, and yet, I still feel physically broken. I’ve only just started getting full nights of sleep. My legs wobble if I try to walk up the hill. Things that used to be easy, like lifting a jug of milk, are now difficult.

I felt the same way after my first pregnancy, and I know that time will help, but it’s still daunting to think of the long road ahead.

And then there’s the way babies and children scrape your heart raw. They require so much from you physically and emotionally. Worrying about them sometimes keeps me awake at night, and I have to make an effort to keep myself from spiraling. There isn’t anywhere to hide. I’m not sure I want to? But you can’t just open up your heart and also close it off from the world at will.

I’m redrawing boundaries, and remapping myself every day. Good things are happening behind the scenes, but I’m also terrified and feeling vulnerable about having to expose my heart to the world. Where do I fit in it? How much do I give, without losing myself? How do I engage? Everything is in flux.

But one day I’ll fit myself again… or maybe I’ll just finally grow into who I’m meant to be.

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