They say that marriage is the most beautiful thing that can happen to you. I agree. The first flush of love taking over you, the butterflies fluttering around in your tummy, and the experience of everything being rosy makes life blissful. Even as my honeymoon period had taken off, and was soaring at 35,000 feet above sea level, I conceived. The fact that my body had performed the miracle of seeding a tiny little human was enough to push my happiness level to 70,000 feet.
But, little did I know that it was all about to come crashing down.
I’m not at all trying to hint that motherhood caused my bliss to backfire. My baby is an absolute blessing, and there are no two ways about that. But post pregnancy, you can be a completely different woman, and you can experience emotions you did not even know about. So, there I was, cradling my new source of joy, something that I had made from scratch.
But, there I also was, gazing back at myself from the other side of the mirror, a completely different person from how I looked like before my baby was born. I looked at the dark circles engulfing my eyes. I was sleep-deprived. The pregnancy glow had said goodbye. And, what remained was my pregnancy belly. I’d keep telling it that the job was done, the baby was not inside anymore, but it would refuse to listen. Now, how can someone be more persuasive, tell me?
So, in the initial few months, I kept convincing myself that the tummy would shrink, but slowly, I began to get frustrated. All the staying at home after being a brilliant student, with a lot of good job offers in hand, kept giving me this sinking feeling. Things started going from bad to worse, and I never realized what I was mistaking for postpartum depression was depression because of my body image.
I also had many people commenting on my belly. “Oh, your belly hasn’t gone in even after so long,” people would say. That’s when I started doing everything that I could have. I pumped iron, started dieting, started consuming superfoods meant for weight loss, but the stubborn tummy wouldn’t budge. Slowly, even my baby’s cries would have me screaming in rage. I would then feel guilty for having felt that way towards the innocent baby.
I would open my wardrobe just to realize that none of my old clothes fit me. It isn’t like I had an hourglass figure before, but I wasn’t fat, for sure. That made it difficult for me to accept the way my body had changed, and the new responsibility of being a caregiver and cow to my child was adding to the pressure. My belly was bothering me so much that I would wear my pregnancy belt just to ensure that bad boy remained tucked in.
In fact, my body image was making me believe that I had stopped looking attractive. I felt this more when my husband was around. I would fear that my husband would find someone better, that the lack of attention from my end would push him away from me, that I was a bad mother. The depression was killing me. It painted me in shades of gray, and all the beautiful firsts of my baby were becoming a blurry affair.
It took me a while to realize that being depressed because of my changed figure wouldn’t help me. It’s a fact that just like weight issues can trigger depression, the reverse can happen too. I understood that my anxiety and depression were making me binge eat, thanks to which the weighing machine was becoming my foe. I decided to take care of myself because my depression was making me lose out on precious moments with my little munchkin.
Taking care of your body is one aspect of it, but taking care of your mind is the biggest challenge. It took me a long time to convince myself that my belly is a sign of endurance, my stretchmarks are a symbol of strength, and my dark circles stand for my determination. But, once it happened, things fell into place. The feeling of having things sorted is the best feeling, and that can only happen when you put in the effort. I worked hard to fish myself out of depression.
If you are going through the same, remember, nothing is worth wrecking your self-confidence for. Love yourself for who you are and what you have done. If your weight is bothering you, get yourself back into shape, not to impress others, but to give yourself a good feeling. Remember, never depend on external comments to feel good. It’s your values that should do the job.