Dealing with postpartum body image

Why do we hate how we look?

Well shit. My shorts I bought during my postpartum months last summer still kind of fit. I really had hoped that when I pulled them on today to deal with this freakishly warm winter they would fall right back down, unassisted. Instead, they stayed on my baby-wide hips where they were supposed to, even though I didn’t want them there.

I’ve lost about half the baby weight, and my body shape is changing again to what I hope is back to something closer of what I used to have. I know in the back of my mind, though, that my body will never be the same again.


The good news is IDGAF what people think anymore—of me, my parenting style, or how we live our lives. It’s actually incredibly freeing. The bad news is I-Do-GAF what I think, which is disappointing to me. I am working so hard on staying body positive and reminding myself that it is hard work producing a human being from scratch, but when I look in the mirror before a shower I can’t help but poke here or grab a handful there, and feel disappointed in what was left behind after the baby was out. I know, I know, “It takes nine months to gain it, it will take nine months to lose it!” Seeing as how that milestone isn’t that far off, it doesn’t bring me any comfort.

I realize, too, that getting back into shape has been on the absolute back burner for me. I dove headfirst into motherhood (let’s pretend that was a choice at all) and was so excited that nothing else mattered. I was hungrier than ever due to breastfeeding, so eat I did. Fortunately, the calorie burning power of boobie magic meant that I didn’t gain any weight. In fact I lost some without trying. Awesome.

Once I was confident enough to leave the house again, I started going on many afternoon walks during the week. The 40 minutes of silence for my baby and myself kept me sane. I’m sure this helped boost some calorie-burning power, too. Just this week, I went running for the first time. Well, “running.” I tried. Negative: It was really not very far. Positive: I didn’t pee myself.

Now that I’m finding my mommy groove, I have a lot more time to process a wider variety of emotions that I am going through. All of this got me thinking: why do we hate our postpartum body so much?

I believe a lot of it has to do with societal conditioning. Women are trained to think that an adolescent-looking body (but with big boobs, obviously) is what is desirable and beautiful. Narrow hips, zero belly-fat, and stick arms might look great in couture, but is impractical for everyday life. The problem is, we start to believe it about ourselves. I had body issues before, so postpartum body issues are a whole new bucket of crazy.

Women are heavily critiqued before, during, and after pregnancy. It’s insane. Why is every female celebrity lambasted all over the internet and magazines for how much weight she is (or isn’t) gaining during pregnancy. It’s disgusting. Making a baby takes calories, and calories means eating food, plain and simple. What’s even worse is how a woman’s recovery is dissected in the media. It isn’t helpful that A-listers seem to bounce back flawlessly after pushing out a watermelon only a few months before. It also isn’t helpful that they don’t tell you about the battalion of help they had to get them back to a size that fits 1% of the population.


How did we go from this standard of beauty…


… to this?

When a woman’s body is actually used for what nature intended, i.e. pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding, it is all of a sudden inappropriate, gross, and repugnant. Instead of boobs being hoisted up to an impossible physiological standard, they are now low with new milk tissue.  Side rant: let’s excise this use of the word “saggy” to describe breasts. It is one of the ugliest words in existence and should never be used to describe something so beautiful as a giver of life, a mother of creation, a maker of future generations. I used to think pregnant women were walking freak shows. Now, I see no body form more beautiful.

Our focus should be on having the healthiest body possible; before, during, and after pregnancy. Let’s work together to erase having a standard at all. If you are naturally very lean with tiny boobies, good on ya girl. If you are quite the opposite, that is great, too! And in the middle? Still wonderful. Every shape is beautiful. We need to love ourselves as we come by eating right but not over, exercising, and talking positively about ourselves—whether that’s out loud or in our heads.

I’d like to tell you that I am proud of every extra inch, each heavy and low breast, and the extra inches of skin. I’d like to tell myself that truth, too. But I’d be lying. But you know what, I’m getting there. I focus on what I’m proud of. That belly housed a tiny miracle. Those boobs are feeding another human his sole source of healthy sustenance. These big thighs helped me work full time (and sometimes more) while carrying a baby, placenta, extra blood and fluids, and did it all while walking proudly (okay, maybe waddling proudly there at the end…). I might not be two-piece proud in May when pool season starts, but I’ll at least be one-piece proud. I’m working really hard on being two-piece proud, though.

Motherhood at 8 months

Eight months have come and gone in a flash. Eight may seem like an insignificant milestone to some, but to me it feels like the most important number ever. My sweet boy isn’t a newborn babe anymore, and hasn’t been for a while, but every month birthday that passes yanks at my heartstrings like no other. Maybe T somehow knows he’s growing up, too, because he is much clingier lately. He’s always reaching for me. It could be that the separation anxiety phase is setting in, but I’ll stick with thinking that it is because he wants to hold onto me just a little bit longer. I want to hold him in my arms forever.

The neighbors are getting a new roof today, and the incessant banging is making the dogs bark which means that there is no morning nap to be had from T. For the first time in a while, I put him in his baby carrier to see if my movements will rock him to sleep like they used to. I breathe him in deeply. I hold his sweet head. We steal glances at each other. That feeling of overwhelming and deep rooted, primal love sets in again. I’m still amazed at this new kind of love, something I never knew I didn’t know I was missing.

These 8 months have been full of dualities. They have brought me the greatest joy and the greatest pain. The greatest elation and the greatest exhaustion I’ve ever experienced. The greatest frustration and the greatest peace. The closest yet furthest I’ve ever been from my husband. I’ve never had so much clarity in seeing my future direction, yet I still get lost in the enormity of my new responsibilities. A newfound sense of self-assuredness yet feeling completely clueless about how to be a mom.

I sweep aside his growing hair so I can kiss that sweet-smelling forehead. I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of his smell. I breathe in a little deeper, trying to imprint my memory with his scent of baby, lavender, and Dreft, so that when he is a little grown and not so sweet-smelling I can reach back into my brain and be able to inhale him again.

Women keep telling me to enjoy the moments, because they go by so quickly. I could never truly comprehend what they were talking about until now. He’s already so big. I hold back the tears when I put away [yet another] outfit he’s outgrown. I revel in delight with every new milestone he hits, every new skill he can do. I long for the days gone by of his newborn coos and milk-drunk smiles. The way he curled up just so when I carried him against my chest.

I know he has to grow up, it is the way of life. We each have many more lessons to teach each other. I guess I just never knew that the love of my life and my greatest friend would divide into two; my husband and the tiny little mirror image of him.


I tried to make baby food and…

*This post may contain affiliate links

This past weekend I had a go at making my own baby food. It’s pretty trendy these days, so I figured why not give it a shot. It’s so much cheaper than buying it too!

I decided to start with yams since it is T’s favorite food. I baked two yams at 400o for almost an hour, basically until they were very soft. After the yams cooled, I scooped out the insides and mashed them to hell with a fork. I didn’t bother using a food puree-er; I had debated buying on of those baby food makers but it seems like an awful lot of money for what a fork or simple blender could do. Plus, our counter space and storage is at a premium these days.


After mashing up the sweet potatoes I mixed in about 20-30 mL of breastmilk to help it freeze better and add some nutrients in. I put some of the fresh feast into tupperware to use during the week, and then froze the rest. I found ice cube trays at the store that make extra-large ice cubes; you know, those novelty kinds that are probably more for scotch on the rocks? They also came with lids! I scooped what was left of the mash into the trays and put them in the freezer. Each giant cube should be about a serving for T, making it easier to cook food in bulk and save some for longer stretches.

This morning I made a fresh banana, proving to be T’s new favorite food. He kept opening his mouth impatiently for more! Bananas are easy, just mash with a fork and serve. I always add baby oatmeal for extra bulk and vitamins, and add breastmilk to make it a little more mushy and make it more palatable.

Next up—peas in a blender. And maybe meats? Stay tuned, I’m sure the posts will get a lot more colorful in both photo and description as the food making process gets more disgusting. How do babies enjoy this stuff anyway?

If you need some freezing trays, check out these ones.

If you are ready to say uncle and just buy a baby food maker, maybe this one will do the trick.

How to keep your motivation when you have zero Fs to give

It’s 8:08 p.m. and I couldn’t give a F less about writing. The baby is in bed, I’m full from dinner, and halfway through my second glass of wine (a real, appropriate glass, not a “I’m-pretending-this-is-one-glass glass”). Today was a good day: the baby was happy, my friend came to visit, and the baby didn’t cry too much before bed. A win all around!

Since tonight is video game night for my husband [cue eye rolling] I always sit down to the computer to get some writing done, and work on my blog if time permits before my [absurdly early to all non-parents] bedtime. Lately, though, I’ve been feeling very uninspired. The day is so eventful that all I want to do is rest when it is done. Actually, I guess that is the line I use so that I don’t have to work on my blog. “You deserve to just sit and rest!” I tell myself, before melting into the couch with another tv show.

The reality is that if I want my blog, and hopefully future business, to work, I need to work. A dream without the work is just that, a dream. It never finds fruition. Because I couldn’t care less right now I then begin the guilt soundtrack, right on schedule. I feel guilty that I don’t write more and work harder on my blog. If I troll Instagram I see nothing but successful moms, coiffed and running their own mini empires. Their t-shirt lines are successful (my effort failed). Their blog took off (mine is slow to start = fail). They found a unique niche and are now telling me how I can profit, too, for the low price of $19.95 (I can barely keep up with my blog and my life. FAIL.)

So what is the problem? Why can’t I get my shit together and work harder every night after the baby goes to sleep, dinner is put away, and dishes are running? To tell you very honestly, I can’t figure it out. Have you had this kind of dilemma? You want something so badly to work, but when it’s time to hit the pavement, you just can’t quite get moving? The answer isn’t simple. It’s not a one fits all answer. The answer is not at the bottom of your wine glass. Or second glass. Or third—I’ve checked all these places already.


My brilliant mother always sends me the best articles. Inspiration, ah-ha moments, and life answers that all of a sudden spark a light bulb when really I should have been able to figure it out myself. One particular one she sent me—and I wish I had the link because it was so good, I must have put it somewhere for safekeeping i.e. it’s now lost forever—was so good and made such perfect sense. The most basic bottom line, and I’m doing the author an injustice here, was that motivation doesn’t lead to action. Action leads to motivation. And it’s totally, gobsmacked-ingly true!  There are so many times that when I really didn’t want to work on something but made myself start, I got excited and pushed full steam ahead all the way through. I even felt better afterwards—accomplished, satisfied, and uplifted, to be exact. Why hadn’t I started sooner?

I always ask myself that question, and the answer is as elusive at the next go around. I wish I could tell you that motivation led to great accomplishment, but so far I find it to be the opposite. So how do we start when we have no motivation to do so?

For one, I remind myself of the end goal. What am I trying to accomplish? What are my future plans? When I look at the big picture I can more realistically remind myself that I need to complete the smaller goals if I ever have hopes of reaching the prize. I sometimes write them down. I re-read my blog bio to remind myself that I am trying to help my readers, and help future readers, and I can’t do that if there is zero content to read.

Another tactic is to make a deal with myself. “Okay, write for ten minutes, just ten minutes, and then you can go do something else.” Almost every time that ten minutes turns into an hour, and results in a blog post and then some extra work to boot. Like I said before, once you get the locomotive moving, the steam usually carries it through to the next station. Are these metaphors doing anything for you? Moving on…

Do something else. Yes, you read that right. If I really am avoiding doing something, I do something else either a) creative or b) physical. Getting the juices flowing usually leads to more motivation to do something else. Has cleaning your teapot turned into cleaning your counters, which led to vacuuming the kitchen, which led to organizing the incoming mail? I hope I’m not the only one! As that author said, doing leads to motivation. The proof is in the pudding! Or in this third glass of wine. I mean, not food or wine. Writing? Yes, writing.

Avoid distractors. Nothing kills my train of thought like my cell phone. Because in that very inviting cell phone lies social media apps. And in those apps lie time waster after time waster. I can’t tell you how many times I go to “check” my notifications and find myself 20 minutes later scrolling through photo after photo, meme after meme. What a waste. In fact I’m adding “avoid cell phone numbing” to my daily list of tasks. It’s really a time waster, and really pointless! But don’t stop reading my post; I’m not a fuck-boy so I promise I won’t waste your time. You can keep coming back to me, girl.

And sometimes you just have to say to yourself “SIT YOUR ASS DOWN AND DO IT.” My inner self pisses and moans, but my physical self sits in the chair and turns on the computer. I feel better every time when I’m done, but getting started? Whew, nah girl nah. I hate the phrase “Put on your big girl pants and do it.” I hate every variation thereof: “Put on lipstick and handle it.” “Put on gangster rap and get it done.” “Suck it up buttercup.” Dear Lord don’t say that last one to me EVER. I will crush you. I hate it that much. But find a phrase that works for you. What pushes you enough to sit down and just start? Write it on paper and tape it your mirror, cupboard, or fridge. Repeat it often. Out loud, if you have to. I promise, I won’t judge you for sounding like a crazy person.

My final piece of advice: just don’t do it. What?! You just told me to do it. Why would you tell me to quit it? I’m telling you this because sometimes, you really do just need to sit down and take a night off. If you are, in general, working very hard and are tired, you need to take some me-time so you don’t burn out. If you are burnt out you are good to nobody, especially yourself. It is way more likely that you will quit trying if you are tired and grow resentful toward whatever you are trying to do. The writing can wait. The dishes and laundry can wait. The _______ project can wait. But sometimes, just sometimes, the wine/Real Housewives/early morning run/afternoon yoga/[your vice here] cannot wait. It’s time to indulge it. Go ahead. I give you permission, if you need it.

Speaking of but not really but really because this is the end of the post, this banana bread cannot wait. I’m giving myself permission to call it a night. I’m sure the tomorrow me will thank the now me.

STOP explaining yourself!

“No, but because I just…”

“Yes, because I thought…”

“I didn’t know, I was trying to…”

What do all of these phrases have in common? All of these sentences are not giving a definitive answer, begin an explanation, and are the beginning of the unraveling of your confidence. They are statements we often use when trying to explain ourselves. Have you ever said something similar?

Why is explaining yourself such a bad thing? Typically, it is because we lack confidence in our answers or actions, and feel like we have to explain why we behaved the way we did, or why we chose or said something. We have to validate to an outside party why what we did was the right (or wrong) thing, instead of just saying a yes or no. We are so afraid of being judged by what we did or said, we often explain ourselves—unrequested, I might add—to another person or group to ensure that they know why we are right. Explain why we are smart. Explain why we hurt someone’s feelings. Explain why I made the decision to be a stay-at-home-mom. Oh, oops, that’s just me?


I notice myself explaining even in the most simplest of situations. “Would you like to make a donation of $1 to blah-blah charity?” “No,” I say, then ramble on about how this is actually my third time at the grocery store this week and assuredly I have already donated more than $1 earlier this week. What I should say is a simple “No” and leave it at that. I’m sure the cashier actually doesn’t care if I donate or not, or make judgements about the customers that don’t donate when they probably could afford it. Or maybe they do. Either way, it’s not my problem. Right or wrong, my choice is my choice.

I’ll give you another example, a tougher one. Have you ever RSVPed “no” to a wedding? Super awkward. One year, we elected not to go to an out of town—out of state, actually—wedding. The reason shouldn’t matter, but I’ll explain it to you anyway and completely contradict the point I’m trying to make. Like many 20-somethings, we went to a lot of weddings. A LOT. While great fun, they are usually greatly expensive. Especially when the weddings were rarely held near us. When another invite came in through the mail, we decided that financially, and just exhausted-ly, that we couldn’t do it. We declined. But we sent a gift!

I felt even worse when that thank you note for the gift came in, and the friend had written “Wish you could have been there! We missed you!”. While I doubt they actually noticed our absence on the most stressful/blissful day of their lives, I internally recoiled at the words. I felt so bad. I wanted to call and explain myself, lest their good feelings towards us remain permanently scarred! But I didn’t. We had made our choice, and I’m sure the friend was just being kind in his note.

If I actually stop and think about why I explain myself so much, it is because I feel worried about being judged and criticized. Surely if they understand my thinking, they will agree with me. The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter what someone else thinks of my decision. Lest I sound like your mom, it is “Because I said so, that’s why!” You definitely don’t have to be so blunt, but next time you give a “yes” or “no,” listen to yourself say what comes next. Is it an explanation? How do you feel? Insecure? Uncomfortable? These kinds of situations may happen most while we are at work or talking to family or friends. Any strife in these relationships cause even more self-doubt and anxiety, prompting even further self-explanation.

This year we elected not to travel for Christmas, and celebrate our baby’s first Christmas at home. Instead of just saying “No” when asked if we were traveling, I found myself explaining (again) why I wasn’t coming, citing the most rational of reasons (cost, crying baby, stress, crying baby, lack of crib/car seat/stroller, crying baby…). It turned out that it didn’t matter what I said, my family would still be disappointed I wasn’t there. And that’s okay! I was disappointed I wouldn’t see them, too, but our choice was our choice. End of story. Period. Fin. And, gulp, they would just have to deal with it.

At the end of the day, we have to live with our decisions and as long as we can do that, the responses of others really don’t matter. If you’re like me, you really really hate causing hurt feelings or conflict, so you bend over backwards to avoid it. It turns out that when I do this, I end up being the one with the hurt feelings or anxiety. So pointless.

You are strong, smart, and capable. You make the right choices. Own your actions. If you always do and say what is right and what you believe, you won’t have to explain yourself. Your words, or lack of them, will speak for themselves.

Go feed your infant peanuts right now.

(Okay, maybe not right now.)

But read these new recommendations on food allergies.

Recently we took T to the doctor. We have already started solid foods, and went with infant oatmeal, sweet potatoes, bananas, peas, and prunes (you know, to keep things…regular). These have been a smash hit so far, evidenced by the smashing he does with them all over his face. Adorable, but messy. At this visit, though, one of the doctor’s recommended that we start the allergy-potential foods right away. Dairy, soy, eggs, and peanuts were all to be introduced as soon as possible. Why? Apparently, the new science supports early introduction as a way to prevent food allergies. Especially in the case of peanuts, as evidenced in the new LEAP study. Yes, I was as surprised as you probably are. T is not even close to a year old yet, and I thought these items were way down the line.

Doctors now suspect that avoidance of these foods actually increases risk of development of food allergies. This explains why there are so many children in a particular age range right now that have so many food allergies. Growing up, this was practically unheard of. There might have been one or two kids I ever knew with one food allergy. Now it seems there are a ton! Peanut-free schools are very common. I had always wondered what was causing the rash of children with these sensitivities (see what I did there?).


But why? In the recent years, many doctors suggested that high-risk foods were avoided in children, especially those at high-risk for food allergies. The high-risk kids were those who have a family history of food allergies or those with eczema. Well, one study that was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice suggest that children who have food-triggered eczema and who avoid the trigger foods are actually at higher risk for developing permanent allergies, and that there are certain limitations to the predictability of blood-test results.

What does all this mean? Basically, if your kid has eczema or sensitive skin and develops a flare-up after eating a particular food—say, dairy, for example- and you therefore avoid giving it to him/her, it is more likely that s/he will not be able to tolerate in the future. By avoiding the food completely instead of working through these skin flares, parents can inadvertently decrease tolerance to these foods and increase risk of immediate [anaphylactic] reactions. If your kid doesn’t have eczema but you are afraid of food reactions and don’t give your kid dairy, soy, wheat, eggs, or nuts until a few years old, the time frame of immune acceptance will have passed and s/he will be more likely to have developed an allergy.

Crazy, right? All of this goes to underscore one of the main facts I’ve learned as a parent thus far: recommendations are constantly changing. It also depends on who you ask. It also depends on your doctor. My doctor recommended we avoid rice-based cereal because of the reports of high levels of arsenic, and instead go directly to infant oatmeal cereal. Another mom friend’s doctor told her to avoid oatmeal cereal because it contains wheat, and go for the less-allergenic rice cereal. Another person, another answer.

So what is a mom to do? The best thing you can do is to be informed. Do your research, but do it responsibly. Be careful of who your sources are. You want to ensure you are educated from academically credible sources, not opinion sites (which is why I am linking what I am talking about, as you shouldn’t just take my word for it). The next equally best thing to do is talk to your doctor and work with him or her on a plan for your child. They will likely not start your baby on these types of foods right away, but may suggest earlier introduction as oppose when your child is over a year old or older.

So far, we have been successful with peanuts and dairy (in the form of yogurt. Babies shouldn’t have whole milk. Who knew?). How does one even begin to introduce these foods? At the guidance of the doctor, I bought peanut powder, which contains only peanuts as the ingredient, and mixed it with breastmilk. I started with a really small amount of powder, and gradually increased it. You could do the same with water, if you’re not breastfeeding. I was instructed to add one new food only for three days, monitoring for immediate signs of reaction (hives, swelling, coughing) for the first 10-15 minutes after consumption. T looked pretty thug life trying his first peanuts: shirtless, in little pants and a beanie (for warmth, obviously). I gave it more than three days though, to oblige my own paranoia.

Next we bought plain, unflavored yogurt, and did the same process, except I mixed it with prunes or bananas to add some sweetness back—plain yogurt is so bitter and blah. Eggs are next, which I plan to scramble and put in the food processor so it is not so chunky. Hopefully we will be able to transition T to formula so I can have my boobs, my diet, and some [limited] freedom back. Fingers crossed!!






Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, I am a blogger (duh), albeit a very educated one. This means my writing does not constitute medical advice for your child. Consult your doctor before beginning any new food regimen for your child. I am not responsible if you go ham on food introductions before your baby is ready. Ha! Ham.