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Saturday, 4 January 2014

my postpartum body

I remember my sister's words when we announced my pregnancy. She told me she hated the idea of pregnancy. She told me pregnancy equals a damaged body.

William is ten days old now. He is sat a metre away from me in his swinging chair. The fingers on his right hand are clasping the blanket with the blue stars. I can see his chest rise and fall. He flinches every now and again and I panic. When he doesn't move, I panic.

When William opens his eyes and focuses on my face, my heart fills with adoration. A warm flood pools in my chest and I realise that this is love. It catches me when I least expect it; when I hear him cry for a feed at 3am, when he grumbles as the skin on his back meets the cold of his changing mat.

My body created his body.

How can I hate my body for blessing me with the gift that is my ten day old son? I can't.

Nine months ago, we saw William's beating heart on a screen. A pregnancy test with two pink lines and scan photo of his 2.5mm long body was all the proof we had of his existence until my stomach began to grow.

Nine months ago a love began to grow in my womb and now he lives outside of me.

The shadows around my eyes are darker; tinted with purples and blues that tell the world: yes, I had a sleepless night. From my pubic bone to my belly button runs a valley, detailed by a linea nigra. My stomach bares a detailed map of skin stretched too taught with every day that he moved beneath my skin. Silver slivers like scars trace across my hipbones affirming that my twenty year old body was once too small to house my son. The son that lived inside me.

These imperfections of my body are now the only proof I have that, for a short time, my son and I were one being, and not two.

There is nothing imperfect about that.

His eyes are the deepest grey, and his lips are full, and his brow is wrinkled. He is his father, my husband. I see his Nanny in his lips, and his Grandma in his hands. And whilst he bares no resemblance to me in appearance, I know that his heart is home to half of me. I know that I grew his being inside of me for months, and my body felt the extreme combination of adrenaline and pain as I pushed him into the world. He is every bit a part of me.

My body has changed, and I don't know it like I used to. I wonder how much I knew about my body before I knew my son. I knew nothing of it's capabilities - that much is for sure.

I know now that my stomach is softer than it has been in recent years, and it folds into mountains when I sit down or bend over. My breasts are tender and frequently out of proportion as they grow and shrink to meet my son's needs. My hips have a new voluminosity that I would not have recognised a year ago.

My son knew nothing of my body before his life was created, and now he knows it all. He knows my body as it was the day he was born - soft and warm, a cushion for him to fall asleep on with his fists under his chin and his knees raised to his chest. He knows me only as a mother, and not as the childless 20 year old girl that I was before him. I am nothing but perfect to my son; he knows me inside and out. He knew me long before we met.

He loves me for my imperfections, and I wish I could explain how perfect I feel for knowing that.

My body gave me the gift of life. My body built and grew my son, and for that, I cannot hate it.


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