“This is our very first photo as a family of four, and I never felt brave enough to share it. It was taken just hours after giving birth to my daughter, and at the time, I absolutely hated it. Having a photo document what I was feeling at that moment, and how I looked, filled me with rage and embarrassment.
This photo made me feel fat, ugly, and self-conscious, and I refused to ever let anyone lay their eyes upon it.
When I looked at this photo, I saw dark circles and bags under eyes glossy from all the meds.
I saw sweaty, blemished, swollen skin and what once was a braid – now tangled and unraveled against my pillow.
I saw a triple chin and neck rolls.
I saw exhaustion and pain, and blankets that couldn’t stifle the uncontrollable shivering, no matter how many were piled on top.
I saw high blood pressure, and Pitocin, and hours of difficult labor.
I saw peri bottles, mesh underwear, tucks pads, frozen diapers, and Dermoplast.
I saw a perfect baby girl whose mama was terrified she couldn’t handle a toddler and a newborn at the same time.
I looked at that woman in the photo, and I felt every contraction, every push, and every moment of uncertainty and fear hidden behind the smile on her face.
At the time, I hated this photo.
It showed a reality far removed from other women I saw splashed glamorously across all the media platforms; basking in their new mother glow. Truth is, I had allowed myself to be duped by the stigma our society places upon postpartum life. That it’s sunshine and rainbows and all, ‘You’ll bounce back in no time!’
I couldn’t imagine anyone seeing me like this.
Raw, vulnerable, and real.
Exhausted and weary.
Battered, broken into pieces, and stitched back together again.
I’ve since come to realize recovering from birth isn’t something that should be covered up and concealed with an Instagram filter.
Recovering from birth is not one-size-fits-all, and it most definitely should not be a race.
It’s a process that deserves time and grace, and holds no expectations.
Every single moment of those postpartum hours, days, and months, every moment of healing, deserves to be recognized and celebrated.
Some may say moments like the one in this photo are meant to be private, and I get that.
But if I had seen more women share untouched photos like this one, I might not have felt so isolated and so alone.
Looking back at this photo now, I still see the same things I saw when it was taken. I’m still reminded of how truly difficult the postpartum journey can be.
Only, I don’t hate it anymore.
I don’t feel fat, ugly, or self-conscious.
I feel strong and in awe of what my body is capable of.
I feel humbled and blessed God chose me to be the mother of two precious babies.
I feel loved and encouraged.
I feel empowered and proud.
This is our very first photo as a family of four, one of the most incredible moments of my life, and I finally feel brave enough to share it in hopes that a new mama out there might see it and feel comforted knowing she isn’t alone in this new journey.
Postpartum isn’t easy.
Postpartum isn’t the same for everyone.
Postpartum is blurry and unexpected.
Postpartum is sacred.
Postpartum is worth remembering for the beautiful mess that it is.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Mari Ebert. You can follow her journey on Instagram, Facebook, and her website. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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