Ah, postpartum body image. She can be a nasty wench.
I recently had mastitis, which (on a side note) is one heck of a ride. In case you don’t know, mastitis is an infection in the breast caused, in my case anyway, by a plugged duct. Symptoms can include chills, aches, and nausea, all of which closely resemble the flu – which is exactly what I thought I was experiencing. I’ll omit most of the details for the sake of brevity, but suffice it to say I thought I was going to die.
As a result of all the nausea and/or barfing, however, I became quite svelte. Because I am a girl and because I am desperate to have my body back, this was some serious silver lining. Sure, I was white as a sheet, splayed out on the bathroom floor next to the toilet. But my jeans fit.
Comfort in one’s own postpartum skin should not require a breast infection. Can I get an amen? So when the illness passed and I was back to eating ungodly amounts of food again – feeling guilty and dumpy – I did what any girl seeking joy in her own body would do. I chose to accept myself.
…Just kidding! I decided to do a detox. While breastfeeding.
Now, before you go jumping down my throat, let me just say that this particular detox was not a fast. It *did* include some solid food and healthy fats, so I thought I could pull it off without a) passing out, or b) affecting my milk supply. But no.
My detox lasted one measly day. I dutifully followed all the guidelines for 24 hours – and enjoyed brief results – before waking up in the middle of the night with a racing heart and cloudy vision. Two bowls of Honey Nut Cheerios quickly took care of that.
It is at times like these that I’m so blessed to be surrounded by friends who have the exact same compulsions, fears, and proclivities. We are all struggling to accept ourselves. We are all tempted by the quick fix. And we are all eager to be content.
I’ve been pregnant or nursing since 2009, which is to say that my body has been property of someone else for almost four years. At times, I’ve been perfectly okay with this; there is so much joy in seeing a belly grow with life or a baby grow from the milk my body makes. At other times, though, my selfish nature gets the best of me and I long for no attachments, no restraints.
Is this news to anyone? Hardly. It’s just another variation on the theme of what it means to become a parent. There is fulfillment, there is sacrifice, and there is a fight for balance between the two.