Let Me Have My Body

I gained 40lbs with Charlie and lost 35 of it in the first two weeks after giving birth. I could fit back into my pre-pregnacy clothes by the time I was one month postpartum. With my second child, I gained 25lbs and was back to my regular clothes one week after giving birth.

My postpartum physical transformation was pretty easy to see and everyone made a comment about it of some kind or another. ‘You look so skinny’ ‘You’re so lucky’ ‘How’d you loose all that weight?’ Or just the nasty ‘lucky bitch’ stares from other women who judged me based on the parts of my body they could see. All they knew was what they thought they could see.

But, what they didn’t know is what they couldn’t see. That my first birth was traumatic and I didn’t fully recover from it until I had successfully delivered my second baby. That my tailbone was so bruised from that birth, I couldn’t get in and out of a car, the tub or even a chair for almost 8 weeks without help. That I had a 3rd degree tear from forceps that tore into muscles I didn’t even know I had. That there are bits of my body that will quite literally never be the same after that birth.

They didn’t see that my PTSD from previous physical trauma had been triggered from my first birth experience so badly that I felt like I was going crazy. I felt out of control and scared and wounded. They didn’t see me sobbing to my counselor about how hurt and violated and betrayed by my body I was feeling.

All they knew was what they thought they could see.

They didn’t see that the first night at home with Charlie I sat on the side of the bed and told Daniel through guilty sobs that I didn’t want the baby. I didn’t want to hold him and I didn’t want him in our house. That I wanted him to just…go away. They didn’t see that there were months where I couldn’t control my depression. Months of medication adjustments and counseling sessions that didn’t seem to make any impact at all on my depression.

All they knew was what they thought they could see.

They didn’t see that if I wasn’t crying because I didn’t want Elliot, my second baby, I was cradling his older brother while he slept, sobbing and apologizing to him for bringing home another baby and ruining what the three of us had. That I got some kind of postpartum infection that landed me in the ER 10 days postpartum and knocked me on my ass so bad that it compounded my depression and anxiety 10 fold. That before we were able to get Elliot’s lip tie revised I got an ultra deep crack on my nipple that took 2 1/2 months to heal and left me in pain almost all the time. That I was so utterly sad that my chest hurt for weeks. I felt like my heart was truly broken. And that for the first time in my life I was contemplating self harm.

All they knew was what they thought they could see.

They didn’t see this past winter when my postpartum depression was so bad that there were a few nights I locked myself in the bathroom and cried endlessly while my partner worried, not knowing what to do or if I was okay. That the thoughts of self harm were still there, and I didn’t know what to do with them. I felt disconnected, like I was floating and didn’t have a place to stand.

They didn’t see those parts of the journey. The really dark, scary parts. The parts that have left a permanent impact on my Self. I got a lot of ‘you look fantastic!’s but never any ‘how are you feeling?’ A lot of ‘but the baby sure is cute’ and ‘it’s all worth it for him’ and never anyone wanting to acknowledge that I felt broken to bits.

Lots of looking past Me and just seeing my body.

My body might have lost weight, but I am more than that. I am still working on repairing my heart and soul. I am still (and always will be) on medication to help control my anxiety and depression. I am still (and always will be) in counseling to help me learn to cope with a mind that won’t quit and a heart that sometimes doesn’t seem to want to mend.

Can you just let me have my body?

Please, let me have my body. It may weigh what it did before I had kids, but there’s more to it than that. It is mine, and I am on my own journey to learn to love it. Even with its stretch marks and loose skin and deflated boobs and doughy belly and wider hips and odd scars. I want my body because it houses Me. I am still working on repairing my heart and soul. I am still (and always will be) on medication to help control my anxiety and depression. I am still (and always will be) in counseling to help me learn to cope with a mind that won’t quit and a heart that sometimes doesn’t seem to want to mend.

Let me have my body. Can it be okay that it looks the way it does? Because what I want you to really see is Me. The Me that has postpartum depression. The Me that has postpartum anxiety. And the me that has endless talent and passion and love and wants to do good. I am so much more than my body, the same way that I am so much more than my depression and anxiety.

See me.

And let me have my body.

Jessica Sheridan