My "Me Love"
When I was 6, I hated my long lanky arms and legs. They were too skinny. When I was 13, I was concerned about my entire body. Let’s face it, no matter what, this happens. Puberty sucks. When I was 17, I was concerned I was too bulky from my sports. Were my legs too fat? Was my stomach flat enough? At 20, I was obsessed over how my bar clothes made me look. Too fat? Too sluty? Not sluty enough? When I was 22 I was obsessed with having a fit body. Strong abs, strong legs. I had to work out a certain number of days a week or I felt like I failed. At 26, I wanted to be sure my wedding dress fit. I ate all real food for months. I focused on just being healthy. It was the best I felt, well, ever, but I was still only focusing on what I looked and felt like on the outside. … Ironic isn’t it? Don’t feelings come from the inside, not from the outside? Days before my 29th birthday, this happened.
At 29 years old, I was concerned about my child receiving nutrients and growing healthy. I was concerned about making certain my blood pressure was within a normal range. I was concerned about making sure my body was going to be strong enough for the extra 30 pounds it was carrying, and I was concerned about being strong enough for delivery. I didn’t give a shit if my legs looked fat or if I got a double chin. Particularly because I knew I was treating my body with respect and living a healthy lifestyle. So, if I got fat legs or a double chin, it’s because my body needed it for my baby. Not because I fed it junk and didn’t offer it exercise.
At 29 years old, I delivered a beautiful, healthy baby girl. My body labored for hours. I felt strong. I felt proud. I was then rushed into surgery for an emergency C-section to make certain that I delivered a healthy baby and that I remained healthy as well. We made it through, but not without pain and some tears. We made it because of my body. My strong, amazing body. This was the result.
It’s cliché for me to say that Hannah has changed my life, but she has. She’s taught me the biggest lesson of all… how to love me. It is my hope that I can do the same for her. It is my hope that I can teach her what I’ve learned in this past year because of her.
I’ve learned that in order to love your body, you have to love your soul. You have to respect your heart. You have to disregard our disgusting and pitiful society. You have to ignore the shame and guilt our culture so effortlessly puts on girls and women.
I use my eyes to see the world. I use my eyes to take photographs. I use my eyes to fall in love with my husband over and over again.
I use my arms to hold my precious baby girl. I use my arms to hug the love of my life, to hug my family, my friends. I use my arms to play peek-a-boo and to cook and bake. I use my arms to clean this house I am so fortunate to live in. I use my arms to do laundry.
I use my legs to take walks with my husband, our daughter, our dog. I use my legs to jog. I use my legs to dance and jump.
I use my core to hold me up every single day. I used my core to grow another life. I touched my stomach to feel Hannah give me kicks. I use my stomach to provide nutrients to my entire body. I look at my stomach everyday to remind me that I brought life into this world.
I wear this scar proudly. I am so proud.
I’m proud that I can do all of those things no matter what my body LOOKS like. I can still take walks, I can still play peek-a-boo, I can still take photographs… I can still love. I can still love life and I can still love myself.
My love for me starts from my heart. Because of this, my love for me is unwavering. It doesn’t change if the scale goes up 5 pounds. It doesn’t change if it goes down 5 pounds. It doesn’t change if I decide to eat some Girl Scout cookies. It doesn’t change if I chose to sleep instead of work out. It doesn’t change, because my love for me starts from within. It is unconditional. It is not dependent on my pants size, or my workout log.
Hannah sent me on this journey, and my husband has nourished it. Dustin, thank you. You’ve seen me and have loved me completely since the beginning. A day has never gone by that I didn’t feel like you loved me or that you weren't attracted to me. Whether I fit into my wedding dress or my ankles were so swollen I couldn’t wear shoes, you loved me the same. It’s unconditional. I’m beyond blessed.
Why am I sharing this? I’m sharing this because I want you find the same path. Pregnancy and motherhood was my journey, but what’s yours? You may find it through a loss you experience, falling in love, falling out of love, or simply being fed up with allowing society to control the love you have for you. However it happens, I hope you can begin this journey and find your “me love.” Remember, "me love" isn't perfect. You'll have good days and bad, but finally feeling that "me love" is so liberating. I wish you the best of luck on your journey.
Thank you, Dustin and Hannah, for giving me so much joy, pride and love. You are my life.
A huge thank you to my new friend and fellow photog, Caren of CAG Photography, for capturing my scar. Our photo shoot helped give me the push to finally write this post!!