I had heard all the horror stories before. “After I had my baby, we weren’t intimate again for a year!” “I just stopped craving it. I don’t miss being with my partner at all.” I was terrified of losing my drive for good. Newly married and newly pregnant, I felt defeated.
Coming from a strict upbringing, that aspect of myself is something I held very sacred as I started to create my life as an adult. When I married my childhood best friend, I finally had a safe place to explore, experiment, and experience. So seeing that second line on my pregnancy test pop up a year and a half later, I felt like I was watching my freedom slip away.
My drive was up and down throughout my pregnancy, which is pretty typical, with the early pregnancy hormones making me act like a teenager going through puberty, and then dipping into a dry spell during mid to late pregnancy. To top it off, during late pregnancy, my midwives practically begged me and my partner to be intimate to trigger hormones that encourage labor, as I went two weeks overdue.
However, the minute my chubby, slippery baby was placed on my chest, I felt this overwhelming sense of superiority flood my spirit. I was suddenly the most magical, powerful being to ever grace the planet. I had pushed a human out of me. I felt so beautiful, even with my pale face, swollen ankles, and stretch marks. A few hours after birth, I looked at my partner and said, “I will never be afraid of anything ever again. I am incredible.”
But as with most things in life, it was not that simple. It took a while to find my drive, between the late-night feedings and baby songs stuck in a loop in my head. And yet, through all of this, one thing that never faded for me was my newfound self-confidence. I loved how soft my tummy looked and how you could still see my dark line a few months later—a dead giveaway of my greatest accomplishment. My thighs were thicker, my hips wider and decorated with stretch marks, my arms were stronger, and my face looked tired and gentle. I felt desirable. Even in the moments when my drive was not all there yet, I felt hot and passionate.
It took many late-night talks with my partner, sharing intimate details with him, and lots of testing things out to finally feel my drive slowly build back up. As I have described to my closest friends, it was like I woke up one morning, and it was back. The drive was there and stronger than ever. Not only was I ready, but my newfound confidence allowed us to try things I had vetoed in the past due to not feeling like my body was up to par (my words and thoughts alone). I felt brand new, ready to experiment, try, and possibly fail and try again. My body felt more my own than it ever had before.
I bought myself new underwear, donated the clothes that did not fit my new body, and refused to feel bad about it. When people told me I didn’t look like I had a baby (a sentiment that was supposed to be taken as a compliment, I am sure), I always responded with, “But I do look like I had a baby, and I love it!” I felt like I was in my own perfect little bubble—like I held a secret to being so utterly and deeply content with my spirit and body.
I don’t want how I feel to be a secret. I want every new mom to know that motherhood does not have to mean losing your sense of self for the foreseeable future. One thing that helped remind me of my worth was the love and respect I showed toward myself. I did not hold back when others complimented me. Even hours after birth—when the nurses came into my room and told me, “You did great, Mama!”—I did not humbly thank them, but I replied, “I know I did, and I am so proud of myself.” It seems simple, but the empowerment I felt from within in those early postpartum days has grown and flourished.
Creating, growing, and birthing another human being empowers you in a profoundly instinctual way. Maybe it has to do with the overwhelming state of vulnerability you find yourself in as you are birthing your child—everything bared, under fluorescent lights, with strangers staring at you, waiting for a baby to pop out. You face all of your fears in one terrifying moment. And then there is magic on the other side. Becoming a mom felt like my life had aligned with my soul, like every piece of me had been stitched together to bind my story up. I am Mother. I am beautiful. I am confident. I am soft. I am powerful. I am feminine. I am perfect by nobody else’s standards but my own.
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