I had been feeling empowered. Proud of my effort and discipline to get back in shape after having the baby. It’s my third baby, third C-section, I’m 29, and I have diastasis recti (separated abdominal muscles), so I had no delusions about sliding into my skinny jeans or having a flat belly mere weeks after giving birth. I knew it would take lots of time, hard work, and good nutrition to help me stomach get back to “normal,” but I felt I had made incredible progress in the past few weeks. I had just started the MuTu System (affiliate link) to begin healing my core, and I had also been taking my nutrition very seriously, going so far as to cut out the creamer in my morning coffee - the ultimate sacrifice. I was feeling strong and confident, content with how far I had come.
My three-month-old baby and I were at a convention in Las Vegas, and so many people would come up and coo at the baby and ask the standard questions: “How old is he?” “What’s his name?” etc. etc. So when I walked up to the counter to check in, and one of the volunteers started gushing over my child, I smiled at her and thanked her for her kind words, not thinking anything of it.
As I was about to turn my attention back to the volunteer checking me in, her eyes darted to my midsection, and she gasped with delight.
“You have another one on the way already! That’s so great!”
My cheeks got warm, and my heart sank. The pride I had been feeling at the progress I had made was gone, and I obviously started second guessing the shirt I thought was “flowy” enough to mask my postpartum stomach.
Not knowing how else to respond, I simply stared at her in disbelief. “I *just* had a baby,” I said slowly, wondering if she had ever seen a postpartum woman before.
I turned back to the volunteer who was checking me in, who looked mortified at the turn the conversation had taken. He gave me my name tag and swag bag, and sent me on my way with a sympathetic smile. Amazingly, the woman volunteer who had gushed over my “pregnant” belly looked unfazed, and bubbly as ever.
* * *
This is not an article where I make a list of things people shouldn't say to postpartum women. There are lots of those floating around the internet if you need one. This is not a post about how people shouldn't really be commenting on other people's bodies at all. That's true, but when you're in the childbearing years, people seem to forget that.
My feelings were hurt. I felt embarrassed, and began comparing myself mentally to all of the other postpartum women I know who have lost the weight faster, have flatter stomachs, and who are able to workout normally without worrying about further ruining their already destroyed abdominal muscles. That was where my mind was heading, and to be honest, my first reaction was to ruin all the progress I had made by buying some junk food and eating it until I felt better. Not that there's anything wrong with a bit of junk food here and there. I bought a bag of Swedish Fish to enjoy on the plane ride, but it was a mindful choice, and I kept it to a normal serving size...kind of. I'm talking about emotional eating - thinking tasty yet terrible food is going to make us feel better.
But instead of wallowing in self-pity, I made a decision right then and there to work twice as hard to reach my goal. Because you know what ladies? We can chastise the people who make insensitive comments all we want, but there's always going to be another dumb remark to make us feel bad because we're too fat, too thin, not toned enough, or too buff.
At the end of the day we are accountable to God and ourselves to use our bodies to his glory. We are in control of the decision to eat nutritious food or junk food. We make the choice to move or to be sedentary. We GET to choose our mindset each and every day. Am I going to be thankful for a body that can carry out the tasks it needs to and do all I can to be a good steward of the gift of health? Or am I going to let other people determine how I feel, and punish my body for not living up to an arbitrary standard?
In that moment I chose joy. And I will continue to choose joy for as long as God gives me breath, because life, and movement, and babies, and challenges, and hard work - those are all gifts.
So someone made a comment about your size, your fertility, or your body that made you feel bad. So what? What are you going to do about it? Are you going to choose a mindset of gratitude and power, or are you going to choose the mindset of a victim? Are you going to focus on your goals and values, or are you going to let other people choose those for you? Are you going to self destruct, or are you going to let that comment fuel your motivation and resolve to improve?
Ladies, we've all been there. We've all been on the receiving end of insensitive comments. Let's spur one another on and encourage one another to overcome letting our self worth be defined by others, and by our external appearance. We have identity and purpose in Christ - "for in him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28)
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