By Kate Martin
Like most women, I’ve struggled with my feelings about my body. The first time I remember noticing anything about my body was at the tender age of four or five, when I became fascinated by the bump on my wrist. “Momma! Look at this! Was this there before?” I asked in wonder, pointing at the little bump on the outside of my right wrist. Wait – there was another, on my other wrist! I recognize now that my pudgy, baby-fat-covered wrists were giving way to the slim wrists of a young child, but at the time, it was startling to realize how my body changed.
Of course, as I grew older, I underwent all the other bodily changes associated with womanhood. I wound up a well-endowed young woman who struggled with her body image – whether it was from the summer I spent as a stablehand, which left me more muscled and with my olive skin toasted brown, or the period in college where I forced myself to ignore the pizza and go for the cafeteria salad bar instead. I suffered the usual tumultuous relationship with my body, my mind, and media that told me particular elements of me were attractive, but those others – oof!
In December 2017, I found out I was pregnant. My body went through so many changes in just a few months – growing my daughter, suffering from preeclampsia, struggling to learn how to breastfeed. My breasts were an uncomfortable portion for most of this – within a couple weeks of getting pregnant, they had increased from D to DD, and when I started nursing my daughter, they turned into Hs. My whole world revolved around my breasts and the little baby in my arms.
I would be engorged with milk – I would take a hot shower and milk would spray everywhere, the creamy whiteness washing down the drain with the bubbles from my shampoo. My daughter was so little, and my breasts were so large; she struggled to latch on and fussed when milk would come out too fast for her. Her tongue tie prevented her from latching on correctly and every time it felt like daggers shooting through my nipples; when she started to nurse, I would bite my lip against the pain. Someone had told me, before she was born, to give it six weeks, and one month in, I was looking forward to that six week mark, and wondering if I would survive the pain of getting there – and then suddenly, everything clicked.
My breasts started to regulate and realize I was only feeding one baby, not a nursery full of them. My daughter grew bigger, and was able to latch on more easily. When that six week mark rolled around, I was startled to realize that we had become pros at this. I nursed her until she was 23 months, when my milk supply finally dried up due to being pregnant with her younger sister. I’ve now nursed her younger sister for 14 months – and had a much easier journey with her, since I knew some of what to expect, and she came out a pound larger and without the tongue tie.
Having my children changed my body more than anything else ever did. I have stretch marks across my belly, my breasts will never be the same, muscles are no longer quite as tight as they used to be, fat more easily accumulates and less easily disappears. But having my babies made me fall in love with my body.
I look at my stretch marks and think “Holy cow, I made a person! Twice!” I see my no-longer-quite-perky breasts in the mirror and appreciate them for the fact that they’ve provided all the ingredients for my children to grow. I’ve poured eighteen months of my life to the creation of their lives, dealing with an aching back, aching belly, and being repeatedly pummeled internally. I’ve spent three years of my life planning my wardrobe around easy accessibility for my breasts and interrupting whatever I was doing to go nurse a hungry baby. My body will never be the same, and I love it so much because of it. I am more confident in who I am physically than ever before. I’ve watched how my body has changed, and I am so grateful for every bit of it.
Kate Martin is the web designer for Visions of Possibilities. When she isn’t busy building websites and being a mom to her two daughters, Kate is busy supporting moms and entrepreneurs with ADHD through her sites Mama’s Working On It and The ADHD Productivity Wizard. She can be found on Instagram, its.kate.martin.