Body Image Series, Part 5: Physical trauma & bouncing back

MamaC&Baby[Have you read the Introduction yet? Start here.]

April 2012 – My poor body. It has been through so much. Just in the past three years, I’ve had a car accident (resulting in full-body whiplash and a softball-sized pancreatic cyst), major abdominal surgery (pancreatectomy/spleenectomy), a pregnancy, and a c-section (less than a year after the pancreatectomy, and my second c-section, too). Once upon a time I was super fit. In my opinion, exercise is awesome for so many reasons, not the least of which is stress relief. And unfortunately, because of my recent medical history, vigorous exercise is something that has been out of my reach for what seems like eons. In short, I have been in survival mode for a long time. When I don’t work out, you better look out, if you know what I mean. Since all these injuries and surgeries, I feel like such a  slug and a wimp when it comes to physical activity. I’m just starting to get to the point that I can work up a good sweat again without majorly paying for it. I know I’ve come a long way, but it’s really, really hard to be patient with myself! 

Do you ever get the feeling that we, as women, are expected to go through these major life changes and then just — *BOING* — bounce back to where we were, what we used to look like, like nothing has happened? That is where I’m at. I’ve been through multiple crises — like I said a big old, long dirty laundry list. And now I am wondering … Do I have to just move on and accept the mid-thirties, heavier, more big-chested, divorced, single-mother-of-two version of me? I mean, how depressing does that even sound?! I would say I prefer to be “thirty and flirty and thriving,” (13 Going On 30, my generation!) but that description kind of makes me want to gag at this point, too.

To be honest, I’m not really sure what’s realistic at this point. I know what size I used to wear. I know how much I used to weigh. But now I’m turning 32 and I’ve had 2 children and I’ve had 3 surgeries and I’m on X number of medications. I mean, what’s my goal supposed to be here, people? Ideally, I’d like to fit into the jeans I was wearing before I had my last baby! Is that going to happen? I’d like to think so. I guess the best thing to do is just give it a shot.

Ok, mamas. If you are a biological mother, I know you’ve been through at least one major physical change: pregnancy. Hello! When I was little, I used to think ‘pregnant’ meant you had a baby in your belly. But–wow! It’s not just your tummy that’s affected, huh? Your WHOLE BODY is pregnant! Hair and nails grow like crazy, nausea, vision changes, swelling in various body parts, varicose veins, rashes, you name it! The whole package is up for grabs. And don’t get me started on ‘baby brain.’ I swear both times I was pregnant, the fetus was sucking my brain power into his–making me even more ditzy and distracted than normal. I’m surprised I was still able to operate a car.

But pregnancy isn’t the only major physical change a woman can go through. Surgery, major illnesses, aging and even gaining/losing a large amount of weight can cause excessive strain or major changes in our bodies. Do you know what I’m talking about? Have you had any of these experiences? Are you as frustrated as I am with the expectation that we should be able to snap our fingers and go back to where we used to be? Tell me about it!

Other posts in the Body Image Series:

Intro: What am I supposed to look like?

Part 1 – Hair & makeup

Part 2 – Food

Part 3 – Media

Part 4 – My reflection & photographs

Part 6 – What is the healthy way? 

Conclusion: So … What am I supposed to look like?

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