A Love Letter to My Postpartum Body
Dear Postpartum Body,
I know we haven’t always had the greatest relationship.
For years, I resented you.
I fought who you were, viciously tried to change you.
I ran for miles upon miles to try to form you into something different.
I tried to starve you, make you disappear, but you proved your resiliency.
You showed me that you are a survivor, that you wouldn’t be broken easily.
But I wounded you. Every day that I tried to hide you in shame was like a stripe upon you, but you wouldn’t let me go.
And when I found love, someone that loved you, wanted to hold you, someone who thought you were beautiful, I doubted. There was so much of you I still tried to hide; you craved love, but I did not think you worthy.
But I learned that love overpowers fear and shame, so I gave in cautiously.
When I learned you were a haven for a new-formed life, I collapsed under a tidal wave of emotion.
After the way I mistreated you for so many years, you were still capable of carrying life and bringing forth hope from destruction.
For the first time in so many years, I felt at peace with you, grateful for what you were capable of doing.
I marveled at the life growing in you and did my best to take care of you.
You endured so much change in such a short time, only to bring the most beautiful baby girl into the world. I cannot fathom your perseverance through it all. You would do it all again four more times.
Even through experiencing the miraculous that you were capable of, things took a darker turn for us.
I struggled with the shell of what you had become.
You changed, grew softer, portrayed something that looked weary as you became a caretaker for those babies.
You gave way to folds and wrinkles, gray hair and aging skin, stretch marks and things that just simply fell out place.
But I saw how those little faces looked at you and wrapped their arms around you.
I watched chubby little hands and fingers cup your worn face.
You were their home, their place of safety in a world unknown.
They did not see shortcomings or imperfections; only love that transcended every ounce of doubt that told me you were not enough.
So we reached an impasse.
My stubbornness and inability to let go, my futile attempts to dismiss you for simply being who you were.
And you - your resistance in the face of unspoken shame, your fortitude under the most difficult circumstances.
You showed me that life cannot be stifled, erased or restrained.
And so, I surrender.
I surrender to you in gratitude that you have held me this long; that you never gave up on me.
That through every battle I put you through, you made it out alive.
And no matter how I unfairly punished you, you did not crumble. Somehow, through it all, you brought forth life from your brokenness.
From your weariness, you still nurtured life.
You are a soft touch to hold, sustenance for a newborn babe, a nest of safety and warmth for the loves in our life.
Yes, and rightly so. For those imperfections have been your beauty all along. Strong and beautiful. Resilient and life-giving.
I know there will be days where I don’t feel like loving you.
Too easily do I fall back into a mindset that is hostile in nature, but I am working on changing this.
Because my ability to love others to the fullest potential I am capable of stems from my relationship with you.
If I am incapable of loving you, how can I give to those in my life I love the most?
So I vow to be gentler, to speak words in grace.
You have undergone so much in your years of life, you deserve to be nurtured, compassion, tenderness, kindness.
After all, there are those who depend on you - including me.
We have a whole life ahead of us, and I don’t want to waste any more years at war with you.
Even when the feeling of love isn’t there, I promise to act on this commitment.
To continue to care for you in thought and deed, even when I cannot accept what I see.
Because love is not a feeling, and self-love starts with taking care of you, until the last day.
Thank you for carrying me this far, for bringing me the people in life I love the most, for being capable of love, for forgiving the damage I’ve done.
When it’s all said and done, you have been my home, my sanctuary of memories and experiences that make life worth living.
To love yourself as you are is a miracle, and to see yourself is to have found yourself, for now. And now is all we have, and love is who we are. ~ Anne Lamott