I sat on the edge of the pool with my six-week-old son on my lap. I was using him as a shield between my postpartum body and the Saturday crowd of university students having a celebratory gathering at the shared pool in our living complex.
It has been six weeks since my caesarian section and birth of my third child. Six weeks since I have been able to swim with my other two children, Orlando (six) and Hazel (two).
If you ask my son, he’ll tell you it’s been one million years since mum has been able to swim with him. He gets his exaggeration from his father and also from being a six-year-old.
Watch: How to get a beach body. Post continues below.
I’ve been waiting for the stitches to dissolve, for the blood to stop, and for the risk of infection to subside. I’ve been sat in a nursing chair the last six weeks, counting down the days and mentally preparing myself for when the time would come to squeeze my new body into a swimsuit.
I’ve been so very kind to my body this time around. I haven’t looked away in horror as I see the C-section apron I’ve now acquired, three C-sections later. I haven’t wobbled my arms or worried that my thighs now touch. Have I noticed all these things? Yes, of course.
With all the wisdom that comes with being in my thirties, I’m much more understanding and considerate of my body and what it has been through. More than that, I’ve realised something spectacular: literally nobody cares about what I look like, nobody but me. It’s the narcissist in me that thinks the world has nothing better to do than to judge me.
On this particular day, the day I knew I would be joining my family at the swimming pool, I took myself to the shops to buy a new swimsuit; one that would actually fit. I flicked past the size that I used to be and I picked an olive green, textured one-piece. I didn’t make the mistake of rushing out of there and hoping once I got home it would fit, no. I went to the dressing room and tried it on. I stood sideways, rubbing my hand over my stomach that no longer housed a baby but was still holding space in case I decided to return him. I tucked in my breasts, looked in the mirror, and stared straight ahead.
I didn’t hate what I saw.
And why should I?
As I walked towards the pool to meet my family, I could hear the sounds of chatter and laughter, music and splashing. There was a party going on. I walked through the pool gate in my new swimsuit and oversized button-up shirt. I kept my eyes on the prize, my children playing in the pool. “Did you buy some togs mum?” said Orlando. “Is your belly better?”