There are a lot of things you give up when you become a mother. Freedom, spontaneity, sleep and drinking are just a few of the casualties. These are the sacrifices that mothers bond over at mothers’ groups; exchanging childbirth war stories and early mothering woes.
Once you’re initiated into motherhood, it’s perfectly acceptable to complain about the accompanying losses and life changes. But few openly discuss the changes that have occurred to them physically. You hear that “your body is never the same after childbirth” but you have no idea how much. Some bits get crinklier, some parts get more elastic and some parts take on a new form altogether but it’s best not to look “down there” unless you have to.
I accepted that my body would change with motherhood. There are some subtle changes and some not so subtle changes. A line here, a stretch mark there and a crinkly pouch are all “souvenirs” of my pregnancy. But perhaps the most upsetting physical change has been the noticeable loss of my breasts. And I am not talking reduction or sagginess; I am talking about a disappearance! Admittedly they were not voluptuous to begin with; they were petite in keeping with the rest of my body. But they were ample – a B+ or sometimes a C.
Never have I loved my body more than when I was breastfeeding. Sure, I acquired some stretch marks and horrible veins but those things didn’t bother me. I had boobs and I loved them! The cruel irony is that you don’t get to appreciate them fully when feeding. They are purposeful and you don’t really feel very sexy when in the full throes of lactation. Milk sprays are not a turn on.
I breastfed each of my three children for around 6-8 months and I enjoyed it immensely. But it’s now been over a year since I stopped feeding and what remains is not pretty. My breasts are gone and they are not coming back. While some may dismiss this as a first-world problem; a trivial complaint or a flippant worry, its impact on my self-esteem is significant.
You see, there is nothing I can do to change my shape. If you gain weight after pregnancy you have the ability to lose weight. It might not be easy but with hard work you can shed those extra kilos. My problem is the opposite. I can’t create fat, not naturally anyway.