The moment I saw the second line appear on my pregnancy test three years ago, I felt a clutter of emotions and thoughts -- all dripping in dream-like disbelief -- yet two clear thoughts stood out from the rest:
1. Oh my god, I'm going to have to go into labor; and
2. My body is ruined.
Seriously, those were two of my first comprehensive thoughts. Of course the latter thought wasn't an all-consuming concern -- it wasn't something I actively tried to prevent, besides slathering on cocoa butter. But when you're 22, at your peak youthfulness, it's an issue.
But not as big of an issue as I had initially thought.
In my pre-pregnant life (a lifetime ago), I was at battle with my body. As if we were two separate entities, always at odds. I pushed my body, fought with my body. It could always do a little more -- run an extra mile, do an extra strength set, stay awake another hour. And often times my body would push back with chronic colds and stomach problems.
Yet when I was pregnant, I learned to work with my body, listen to my body, respect my body. For the first time I felt in tune with not only what I wanted, but what my body needed. I stopped eating "diet" food pumped with additives and preservatives -- focusing on whatever had the most nutrition rather than the least calories. I stopped pushing my body past its limits. I listened.
And that's never gone away, even after pregnancy. In fact, after seeing all my body can accomplish -- from labor to breastfeeding -- I have an even stronger respect and appreciation for all my body is capable of.
So while I was googling what would happen to my stomach, my skin, my breasts, my feet, my hips, I had no idea that the real change wouldn't be my body, but my relationship with my body. And even though I do have some stretch marks and my pre-baby abdominal muscles haven't tightened back to their original strength, the changes are pretty minimal. Shockingly minimal, in fact. I mean, I'm not sure I'd wear a two-piece bathing suit just yet -- but who cares? (To be fair, I haven't exercised a single day since I gave birth. Yikes!)
After seeing all that my body can do, those concerns just don't matter anymore. And in that respect, I'd much prefer my post-baby body. The one that I listen to. The one that I'm proud of. The one that gave me my child.