There is a saying that everything changes after having a baby. Well, I can personally verify: it is absolutely true! This includes priorities, perspectives, relationships, and many other facets of life.
One thing I will focus on in this post is
the post-partum female body and
how this impacted my identity/femininity.
My husband and I were over the moon excited to become parents. Even though my body changed and grew as the baby developed, I still surprisingly felt beautiful and feminine. Because of the pregnancy hormones, my hair was long and voluminous, and my skin was glowing. Who would ever have thought that I would feel pretty even at my fattest?
Immediately after having the baby, there were many changes that I noticed about my body. First, there were all of the pigment and skin changes. There were the stretch marks that most are familiar with, but there were linear symmetric demarcations all over my body from the neck down to my knees, with entire sections that became hyperpigmented. Only my face was spared, and when I looked at my body, it looked like it had become abstract art.
Post-delivery, my body still looked like I was five months pregnant. My husband even made a joke, asking if there was another baby in there while we were in the hospital. I knew that my body would still look pregnant after giving birth, but it certainly was not a morale-booster.
As the weeks went by, my belly started to go back down, but it never got back to “normal.” I had some extra “fluff,” especially around my abdomen and hips, and anytime I ate a meal, I would look like I was still pregnant. I won’t get into the nitty gritty, but let’s just say other body parts lost their elasticity—my body felt like a rubber band that got stretched out and forgot to snap back.
Around three months post-partum, my hair started to fall out by the handful on a daily basis. Despite trying to eat extra protein and continuing to take my multi-vitamins, I watched as my hair began to thin out and lose its original texture. On top of all of that, I now had a baby girl who loved to grab my hair and pull out a few strands here and there for her own fun.
There were other things that bothered me about my post-baby body, but ultimately it came down to the fact that my body was no longer the same body I had a year ago.
I felt betrayed.
Logically, you would think there would be some reward from growing and bringing a new being into the world, but instead, I felt like my body essentially got slapped with the ugly stick. Even when I tried to dress up and look nice, it was almost always at the expense of taking care of my baby. (Do you know how hard it is to nurse a baby when you are wearing a dress or even Indian clothes?!)
It was like I lost a huge chunk of my
youth and femininity in one fell swoop.
Yes, I know this post sounds like a long pity party, but it made me confront the fact that I placed way too much importance on my outward appearance and how that defined my femininity. Of course, this is not true when you examine the Scriptures.
Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.1 Peter 3:3-6
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.Proverbs 31:30
This reminds me that true beauty comes not from my outward appearance, but from the “hidden person.”
God wants us to have a
gentle and quiet spirit,
to hope in Him, and to have
a fear—a reverence—of Him.
As I continue to learn each day, being a mother is nothing like I had imagined, but regardless of how many things may change—especially on the outward surface in this case—I need to remind myself that God does not look at the outward appearance but at the heart.