‘Even at 9 months pregnant, I spent a few days a week at the gym. ‘You look FAT.’ I cringed when people wanted to snap a photo.’: Mom of four encourages moms to embrace their normal

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“‘You look FAT.’

That’s what was running through my mind after I snapped this picture. I was holding my 8-day-old baby, yet all I saw was that belly, the perfect ledge to prop my newborn on. It’s a thought that is absolutely ridiculous, but it took me months to figure that out.

Courtesy Stacey Skrysak

We see celebrities who look like they never birthed a child, just days after delivering a baby. But that belly, it doesn’t go away overnight. When I look back at the first few weeks postpartum, I cringed when people wanted to snap a photo. I felt like I was trapped in a body I hated.

I was in the best shape of my life when I got pregnant with our rainbow baby, so I felt like a failure when the weight didn’t fall off a month or two later.

Yes, that is an absolutely ridiculous thought.

Courtesy Stacey Skrysak

Even at nine months pregnant, I spent a few days a week at the gym. I was eager to get back into my routine post-baby, but when the time came to lace up on shoes, I couldn’t bring myself to go. As a mother of a six-year-old and a newborn, I was being pulled in every direction. In-between the child meltdowns and the baby ‘witching hour,’ taking care of myself was the last thing on my mind. Even though I knew getting back to my normal self would take time, I still would stare at my extra weight, disappointed in myself it didn’t suddenly melt away.

Here’s the thing — there’s an expectation women can bounce back after having a child and we should be back to our so-called ‘normal,’ but that’s not the reality for 99% of us.

In the throes of being a new mom again, I forgot about the utter exhaustion that comes with a new little human. The late nights, the constant nursing or pumping, and the blood-curdling cries — not to mention, the actual physical recovery we face after delivering a baby.

Now six months later, I still haven’t lost all of the baby weight, but my attitude has shifted.

I’ve given up on the race to get back to ‘normal’ because I’ve realized my normal has changed. There is more jiggle, more stretch marks, and new and improved bags under my eyes, but that’s okay.

My body created another human being, which is pretty freakin’ amazing.

Gone are the days of staring at the scale. And the gym? If I get there twice a week, I’m happy. Right now, resting my body is most important, even if that means dropping my baby off at daycare to catch a quick nap.

Courtesy Stacey Skrysak

If you’re reading this and wondering if you’ll ever get your pre-mom body back, don’t fret. Maybe it’s been 6 months or 6 years. Maybe you never lost the last of your baby weight, that’s okay. We are our own worst critics.

As I look at this picture, I no longer see the physical changes. Instead, I see a mother holding her newborn daughter. I see love and pride shining through her smile. I see a body that gave birth to four beautiful children… and that’s worth every extra pound and stretch mark.”

This story was written by Stacey Skrysak, an award-winning television journalist based in Illinois. You can follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and TwitterDo you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more powerful stories from Stacey:

‘I was sobbing. Pregnant at 40 was the furthest thing from my mind. I was scared. 2 of my babies died within 2 months of birth.’: Mother of child loss says ‘bonus baby’ was ‘biggest surprise,’ now thrilled for surviving triplet to have a sister

‘To the parents of Abigail.’ I was shuffling through the junk mail, before tossing it in the trash. But the last letter left me frozen. My heart began racing. I gasped as I read the name.’

‘I walked into my daughter’s room and instantly spotted that paper from the past. Seeing the 7 digits and extension took my breath away.’

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