meandering through the internet this weekend i stumbled upon an unyielding number of posts, articles and grams dedicated to “all-natural” childbirth and the granola-of-motherhood lifestyle. don’t get me wrong, i’m granola to the core. i love an organic meal as much as the next granola girl. and i love my yoga pants and exercise and meditating and all the rest of that holistic healthy living stuff.
reflecting on the highs and woes of motherhood and childbirth, i wrote a candid little piece on how things went down when Esme Anna was brought into this world. as i mentioned in the post, i was 22 when i got pregnant with Esme and didn’t have a freaking clue what was coming. i spent the next nine months after taking the positive pregnancy test researching and reading about every possible birth scenario i could. i’m talking about hours and hours of research. i learned about pitocin and episiotomy and stretchmarks and weight gain and everything!!
i drafted a two page birth plan and after much stress and dilemma i took it to my doctor. i told her that i’d thought about it really hard. i’d done my research, and had finally decided that i wanted to have an epidural if time allowed. i was so torn. i wanted to experience everything childbirth had to offer, and i wanted to make the best decision i could for my baby. i was so emotional over the whole thing, that when my doctor responded, “Great!” i met her with question. (is this a trick? some evil trick to get my baby out in a hurry and race away to the bahamas or some black-tie event?) i will never forget what she said to me next:
“Sarah, you could have a tooth pulled without novocaine, but why would you want to?”
that was all i needed to hear. sure, i could endure all of the pain that comes with squeezing a baby the size of a watermelon through a hole the size of a lemon, but why on earth would i want to?! why on earth would anyone want to if they don’t absolutely have to???
so i’m here to tell you that however you manage or have managed to birth your child–with or without medical intervention–is as natural as the life you’re living, and as natural as the little life that you brought into this world. advancements in medical technology save people every day, and you are no less a mother for relying on those technologies to birth your child.
you are no less connected to your child for relying on those technologies, and for anyone to suggest otherwise is shaming.
breastfeeding is another topic that begs some attention. and let me just say that i am so happy for every woman who is able to successfully breastfeed, but unfortunately i was not one of those women. i can’t tell you how emotional it was to be “rejected” by my child when it came to feeding. i tried and tried and cried and cried, she just could not latch on. and boy oh boy did it hurt me, to miss out on that “all-natural” and innate experience. it was hard to cope with. in one of my tearful bouts my father said:
Sarah, breastfeeding is not the difference between harvard and lincoln land [community college].
thank you, dad. that was all i needed to hear to reinforce the logic that formula fed babies grow up to be successful and healthy human beings, too.
i’ll go on with regard to body image, weight gain and shaming.
with both of my pregnancies i gained more than 60 pounds. yes that’s right, 60. not a typo. i’m thin. i’ve always been thin, and pregnancy just took to me in the form of serious weight gain, with swelling in the face and limbs. after Esme i bounced right back (ahh to be 22 again). i was underweight when i got pregnant at 112 pounds for my 5’6″ stature, and within three months of giving birth i was comfortable in a size three. eight months postpartum i had achieved a healthy weight at 118, and would somehow manage to maintain that weight until getting pregnant with my son.
i gained another 60 pounds while i was pregnant with Nathaniel. i’m two years postpartum and i weigh in at a healthy 123. i don’t see myself getting back to 118, much as i’d like to fit into those size zero jeans filling my drawers. well, much as i’d like to be able to zip them up, walk around, breathe, and consume a meal after squeezing into them. it’s just not going to happen. and it’s okay. it’s okay for me and for everyone else out there too.
yes, there are things about my body that i’d like to change, but i feel like everyone feels that way. even super-models, because the images that we’re seeing aren’t “all-natural,” they’re products. photo-shopped and chopped and enhanced to create an ideal that doesn’t exist.
beauty is about how you feel. beauty is about how you treat people. beauty is not defined by your measurements or possessions. i want to provide a link to an adult BMI chart as a resource for anyone wondering what constitutes a healthy weight for their height.
because healthy is beautiful. and you are beautiful.