Serenity Carr, Serenity Kids co-founder and Serenity Mom of Della, 2
I am 2 years postpartum and still wearing maternity shorts. None of my pre-baby shorts fit, and I just can’t bring myself to spend money on larger pairs. I weigh 20 lbs more than when I got pregnant and 35 pounds less than the day I gave birth. Progress! Wishful (and probably crazy) thinking has me losing the rest any day now. It’s so silly! I’m wearing not-nice clothes because I don't want a wardrobe full of too-big clothes, even though my maternity clothes don’t really fit nor make me feel good about myself.
My body image is at a lifetime low. My belly sticks out and causes my underwear to roll down. My chin melts into my neck. And my upper arms jiggle when I wave hello. I’ve tried to ignore it. I avoid looking at myself in the mirror. I don’t share many pictures. But I think about it constantly - and it hurts.
Before Della was born, I loved my body. I thought that because I loved my body, that meant I had a healthy body image.
Now I know that my body image is not healthy. It fluctuates based on the scale and compares me to other people. And sometimes it’s more harsh than that. I hear an echo of my mom’s voice talking about her own body, and it’s saying some pretty harsh things.
I don’t WANT to think or behave this way. It’s pretty mean, actually. I wouldn’t treat a friend like this, so why am I saying these mean things about myself? What am I saying to my daughter Della about my body, women’s bodies, and HER body?!? Girls get such negative messages about their bodies, and it’s heartbreaking.
I want to help turn that around. I’m making a commitment to myself and to Della to get to the root of this thing before it’s too late.
After sharing this struggle on Instagram, I was flooded with so many positive uplifting messages. It is great to know that I am not alone in my postpartum body image struggle. Thank you to all these other brave Serenity Moms who are willing to share their body love! Here are some of their stories.
Kristyn Dingman, Serenity Mom of Ben, 3, and Bowen, 9 months
This body of mine carried a baby. It hasn’t always been easy to learn to love the changes my body now shows. But I look at the scars or loose skin and see your first home. This was the place where we first met. Where I felt you kick and roll. Where you were safe and protected. This is where I fell in love with you. These scars are a reflection of my first memories of you. I will forever love the things my body went through to bring you into this world. I love my body and it gave me you. - Kristyn Dingman
Elizabeth Metz, Serenity Mom of Ashlyn, 8, Taelyr, 6, and Jebediah, 1
My postpartum journey hasn’t been easy.
Learning to love this body of mine hasn’t been easy, but then I think. I think and remember that this body of mine powered through 3 C-sections and gave me 3 beautiful kids. Each one was harder than the last, but I made it through.
Being a woman in society these days, it’s easy to get caught up comparing ourselves to others. I’ve learned to accept that it’s going to take time to get back to that 1st baby body, but I know I can do it! I’ve learned to stop comparing myself to others and that each body is different. We are all different.
Comparison is the thief of joy and we must learn to love ourselves. That’s what I tell myself now and I make sure to give this body of mine a compliment everyday!
I know the journey can be hard sometimes, but we got this mommas! - Elizabeth Metz
Kiersten Peterson, Serenity Mom of 4 Angel Babies and Parker Bree, 1
This body carried a baby (well, actually it carried four), but it didn’t carry this baby except for in its arms every day since she was one week old. I didn’t love this body before becoming pregnant. Like many women I struggled with the typical insecurities and constant comparison. However, when at fourteen weeks pregnant, my body suddenly and for no known reason stopped supporting the life of my baby boy, I truly hated it. I felt betrayed. I felt less than because my body couldn’t do what it was “meant” to do as a woman. After our second and third losses, these feelings only intensified. But somewhere on the way to our fourth pregnancy, I decided to try to love my body for the many things it could do. I decided to trust it and was overcome with a feeling of “I have everything I need to have a healthy baby.” We lost our fourth baby too, our baby girl, Faith, but Faith led us to adoption which led us to this girl right here, our sweet Parker Bree. So in the end, I was right. I did have everything I needed to have a healthy baby, even if my body wasn’t the one to carry her inside. Her time in the womb is a sacred time she shares only with her birth mom, and I’m so glad they have that unique bond. That was their time. And now, this is our time - a time in which I get to be the one to carry her in my arms; arms that are a part of a beautiful, strong, capable body - a body that hasn’t yet been able to bear a living child, but that gives me the ability to mother one each and every day. And for that I am so grateful. - Kiersten Peterson
Lauren Lobley, Serenity Mom of Madison, 4, and Liam, 1
This is my body after two babies. I know I'm supposed to accept it as it is. And I want to. But I have a hard time looking at my wrinkled belly skin and feeling confident. I know that thought is rooted in my ego. An ego that has been conditioned by a narrative that says a woman should be all sorts of things: slim, fit, quiet, pretty, sexy, fit. I'm aware of the narrative, and yet even in my awareness, I look at my body and judge it harshly. I know I 'should' be in awe of what I have created. And I AM. I know I should be grateful to have been able to get pregnant in the first place, to give birth, to breastfeed, and to raise children. And I AM. I know I should see my body as a supersonic specimen that has housed 2 children in its womb. And I DO. But I'm also sad. Uncomfortable tucking my stomach skin into my pants. Frustrated that my body doesn't look like it used to. Jealous that other women seem to have bounced back so easily, so quickly, leaving no trace of ever having carried a child, at least not to the naked eye. I know these emotions aren't helpful nor are they productive. But as @Glennon Doyle says, feelings are feelings and they are meant to be felt. So I'm feeling them. ALL of them. The love. The gratitude. The magic. The expansion. The joy. The jealousy. The frustration. The anger. The despair. The fear. A woman becomes a mother and is instantly told she should be a lot of things, not the least of which is grateful. She is not granted the space to mourn the life and the body she had - the only one she ever knew - before becoming ‘mom.’
So when a woman expresses her truth about her feelings around her postpartum body, resist the urge to tell her she's beautiful. Lucky. Blessed. See these photos and see her undeniable truth: that motherhood changes a woman. It changes her entire life, right through the core of her being and down to the wrinkles on her belly. She's allowed to take as long as she needs to integrate and to be ok not only with her new identity, but also, her new body. When a woman is told to just accept her new body and be grateful, she suffers in silence, feeling ashamed for having those feelings to begin with.
I am Lauren. Mother to Madison and Liam. I am proud of my body. I don't always accept this new, squishier version of it, but it doesn't make me any less grateful for it. Thank you for listening. - Lauren Lobley
Silena Gaines, Serenity Mom of Caleb, 3, and Cairo, 1
Pandemic and motherhood aren't two words that you would have expected to pair together prior to 2020. But these days, anything seems possible. It has been an incredibly tough year for most of us moms with respect to finding a balance between family life, career, and self care. We are all seeking to find a 'new normal' and adjusting by any means possible. Many of us have begun new exercise routines, diets and implement healthy eating habits. Conversely, some of us are struggling to even find the time for those things and have packed on a few pounds. What I have learned personally is to practice being kinder to yourself. I know that might sound cliche, but as the old saying goes, 'you can't keep pouring from an empty cup'. This includes practicing self care when you have a moment like not being able to fit into your favorite pair of old jeans. I like to remind myself that I had the privilege of birthing two beautiful boys - something which some women are not able to even have. I also recommend practicing meditation, reading, writing and getting outdoors to do physical activity. During this time of social distancing, consider setting up a Zoom call with some friends or family. The simple act of communicating to others about how you feel does go a long way for your mental health. Lastly, if you are reading this, congratulations! You are surviving during this pandemic motherhood. But consider not just surviving - thrive! You got this, Mama! - Silena Gaines
Kristen Sibal, Serenity Mom of Aria, 3, and Atlas, 1
I didn’t start loving my body until after it gave me babies.
In earlier years, I toyed with diets and exercise but nothing ever stuck. I was unfocused and unmotivated. And at some point, I had mostly given up on loving my body. It wasn’t going to happen and I was just going to deal.
But becoming a mother brought a whole new dimension to my thoughts. I started considering things in a 'monkey see, monkey do' sort of way and quickly realized that if I was just 'dealing' with my body, my children would do the same. So I made a plan to prioritize my own health and got my butt in gear to figure out the move from 'deal' to 'love.'
A few years later, and our youngest is almost a year old. I’ve lost the baby weight and several pounds after. I feel fit and strong and happy with the person I see in the mirror - even though I am not done with my transformation just yet. Learning to love my body has been truly life changing. Not every day is easy, but it helps to remind myself that this body carried those babies, therefore this body can do anything. - Kristen Sibal
Love the body that you are given because you are only given one and don’t be too hard on yourself, mamas. You are beautifully you.
If you’d like to share your story tag us on Instagram or Facebook and use the hashtag #thisbodycarriedababy, or email us with your story for a chance to be featured.