Sobre todo, amate

Buenos dias mi gente! It is really feeling like verano hoy. El sol is shining and it is hot hot hot! Me encanta! La escuela is finally over!! We had our last day today, pero igual, I’ll be in tomorrow to finish up a few things. Que felicidad and excitement for summer vacay!! Ahora that it is warming up, I have been digging in my closet and drawers to pull everything that is verano out for daily wear. I came across several old pieces: maternity clothes, super skinny clothes, the breast feeding tops, the “I’m preggo but not telling yet” clothes, jajaja, no te digo – todo todo todo. It really got me thinking about how much a woman’s cuerpo changes and how we must adjust to all these different stages and sizes. Asi que para hoy, vamos a chismear on body image! A huge topic, especialmente para las mujeres – and even moreso para las mamas! Tengo mi Skinny Pop and ice cold agua, asi que don’t forget algo para ti! Vamonos! 

How increible is the human body though!? Beyond verdad? Ya se, and I hadn’t really given it much thought until I became a mama. Pre-pregnancy, pregnancy, post pregnancy, breast feeding (or pumping, or formula fed your breasts change regardless), and then the aftermath of what you’re “left with” once you become “you” otra vez. Ay ay ayyyy verdad?! It’s a lot! A lot of welcoming, accepting or just living with so many different versions of yourself. It can be muy dificil at times to keep up with everything. Keep up emotionally, physically and financially (someone’s gotta buy all dem ‘fits jaja). It can also take a hit on your self esteem, confidence and your own image. By the time you’re familiar and used to the new version of “you”, tu cuerpo starts changing again. And again. Y otra vez. 

Voy a compartir the changes I went through, and although they may not be exactly like your version, I hope it can shed light on how different all our experiencias are, y regardless of the differences, the fact that we share more commonalities through our sense of understanding and empathy towards one another. 

Pre-pregnancy. Standing at 5’9” weighing 128 lbs, I was rocking form fitting size 2’s and smalls. I was hitting el gimnasio 3 times a week and was baking in tanning beds (ya se, so so bad!) for that all year glow. My luscious, long, curly brown hair was always over the top puffy and made me taller and stand out even more jaja. I never had “big” boobs by any means, pero I was content with my size C34 and could get that Victoria’s Secret look with those push up bras. Jajaja. Ay mami, que guapa!! Let’s just say, I liked how I looked. 

Pregnancy. Early stages of pregnancy are so awkward! Bueno, para mi it was. Am I even pregnant? Am I just mad chubby now? Is this bloat, a baby or did I just eat a lot? Jajaja I was siempre questioning my slowly growing belly bump. Since we didn’t announce until I reached the 12 weeks, I was in escondita mode. Always trying to find loose fitting tops and comfortable bottoms, which I would usually resort to leggings. Viva los leggings!! It’s that in between stage cuando your regular clothes are getting too tight and uncomfortable, pero the maternity ones seem too exaggerated still. Like oye, I’m not THAT preggo. Jajaja. Y tambien, los chichis (boobs) start swelling up and feeling all sore. Ademas those wire bras don’t help with comfort, pero you start needing more support. 

Esto fue the first stage of compras (shopping). Grabbing tops in size Large or XL that could just flow over the bump and look discreet, bigger sized bras (probably nursing ones to be efficient) y mas leggings. I actually got maternity leggings and wore them until they had holes in them, porque enserio they were the best! Pero, I’ll share more about that despues. 

Full blown, no hiding, beach ball preggo status. Lo bueno about being this pregnant para mi, fue that it was verano. Asi que, I could wear flip flops for my swelling and hot feet, airy and flowy summer dresses cuando salia, and let the belly hang out cuando estaba en casa. Perfecto! The weight between these chichis filled with leche and the big belly bump, was really heavy on my chest. Constantly out of breath and looking for somewhere to lay back and kick those feet up. Jejeje La ventaja of the belly bump was the custom plate/bowl holder that I had – no te hagas! I know you did this too! 

Pregnancy meant expansion. De todo. En toda parte. This is when many mujeres start seeing those mama tiger stripes, aka stretch marks. Ya se, they’re not our favourite thing to see on our bodies and not knowing if they’re here to stay or if they will magically fade, leaves us checking up on our skin on the reg. Tambien, if you’re like me, I was constantly lathering myself in all those cocoa butter and oils para asegurarme that I wouldn’t get them. Mi esposo nicknamed my belly bump “that big ‘ol butterball” jajaja. Y siempre would ask why I was so greasy jajaja. Pues!! I don’t want these dreadful stretch marks! 

Pero porque? Why are they so dreadful? Why do none of us mamas want them? Porque is there so much out there trying to make us feel like these side effects of pregnancy, these imprints of a beautiful gift so looked down on? Siempre hay tanta influence and pressure of expectations of what is beautiful, perfect and acceptable from various sources. Si no es tu madre, tu tia, your amiga, the media, social media – it’s something else. Cuando escucho la gente tell me “you don’t even look like a mom” – that’s when I wish I actually had stretch marks from my pregnancies to be like “here’s proof, so vete a ver a donde!” jajaja. Pero, that was my experiencia, I didn’t get stretch marks… on my belly bump. Pero, I did get some on the sides of mis chichis. I guess we all experience it diferente. 

Birth. Despues de 9 meses, you finally get to meet your lil babe… yyyyy all the new cuerpo changes that come along with it. Ahora, I cannot give an authentic viewpoint on having c-sections, porque I didn’t have that experience. Pero! I have several amigas who did, and based on what I have heard and learned, hare lo mejor to represent this side of things as accurately que puedo. 

Para empezar, your once filled, perfectly rounded belly is deflated. Stretched. Wrinkly. Flabby. Y ahora que?! Now you’re probably wishing and praying for that major body bounce back que todos show on the ‘gram or that the models post about. Oooookaaaaay. Pues, la verdad – if you didn’t look how they looked pre-pregnancy – don’t expect that to just magically happen post-pregnancy. Aqui is where comparing yourself to yourself is CRUCIAL for your mental health and well being. Comparando a los demas will make your journey more painful and unattainable. At least for a bit of time. Lo que haces despues that you’re healed and cleared to workout and whatnot, pues that’s up to you! Si se puede! 

If you experienced a C-section, obviamente you needed more bed rest and time to heal. El dolor of holding your newborn rested on your deflated tummy can be so annoying when all you want to do is snuggle. Tal vez you’ll be left with scarring or an “impossible” pouch to “get rid of” – pero igual mujer, eres poderosa!! No matter how you delivered your bebe, eres una mama poderosa! 

Other parts of your cuerpo have also been expanded. To unbelievable measures. In very private parts. Ay ay ayyyyy. Tal vez you ripped, tore and had stitches down there. Hijole! Who would have thought right? Pues asi pasa aveces. Obviamente your main concern is how am I going to sit ever again, or pee, or poo… jajaja. Pero, will it ever be the same?! It was just the Grand Canyon down there, como chingados will it go back to pre-baby tightness? Pues, it will. Dependiendo on your experience, I know there’s also lots of resources for this area in case you may need it or are interesados. Otra vez, I am no expert here, try google y tu doctor. Jajaja. 

Ahora los chichis. Humongous! Casi too big la verdad. Big and heavy, and leaky! Big and heavy, and leaky and sore! Ay Dios mio, never had I thought I would need to lotion my sore, raw, cracked nipples. Uuuufff. Y cada vez it was feeding time, was the most painful latching experience over y over y over again. Por unas semanas anyways. Te dije, I never had a large sized chest, y this was all new for me. Laying down on my sides was muy dificil! They would get squished, they hurt and then they would leak hasta mas! Y pesaban! I actually had a sore back from the weight, y tambien pobablemente from my awkward positioning for feedings until we got the hang of it. Es un processo. Be kind and patient with yourself mama. I feel you. 

Post pregnancy. Looking for that bounce back? Viendo en tu closet to see what you can squeeze into again? I know I did. The small amount of maternity clothes I collected were getting boring, didn’t fit properly again y la verdad I just missed looking more trendy and like myself. Pero en realidad, I had very little time to even put myself together most days and still needed breastfeeding friendly tops jejeje. Asi que, I made do con lo que tenia. Switching things out here and there, and just making it work for the time being.

Y los leggings! No te digo, those pregnancy leggings were viiiida! As much as it wasn’t a fun or an attractive stage, al menos I had my safe, comfortable, hold-everything-together leggings. The high waist, tight fit gave me la seguridad y confianza to know that my tummy would be supported (right after giving birth) and snuggly tucked in (a few months post pregnancy). Tambien, with the eating and drinking that breast feeding required, the bloat would be escondido tambien jaja. Y finalmente, with always lifting your shirt for feedings, the high waist ensured more privacy and coverage on the sides.

De todos modos, this was not a “feel good” image of myself, pero bueno. Leggings and loose tops were mi uniforme. Aun asi, I wasn’t naked, pero I wasn’t a spicy mami, hot tamale tampoco. Jajaja. Regardless of the fact that mi cuerpo had pretty much gone back to pre-pregnancy, aun me sentia muy self conscious and insecure about how I looked. Y mas con mi esposo.

Si yo was having a hard time adjusting and accepting these new versions of mi misma, how would mi esposo be feeling? I mean, we had only been together for a year a half before we were pregnant. Y todo cambio, and kept changing over and over again. I always got down on myself about how I had changed, about how I wasn’t the same anymore. Mi esposo fell in love with who I was, so how could he still love me now when I’m nothing like that anymore? <– that’s what I would tell myself. Muy muy dificil.

Lo bueno is that mi esposo was (and still is) my biggest fan. Jajaja, enserio, he uplifts me even when I don’t even know I need it. He siempre made an effort to tell me how he felt towards me, lo que le gustaba and even what he didn’t like (the leaky chichis jaja not so much fun anymore huh?! jajaja okay okay keep it PG) En verdad, he apprecaited all these different versions of me and would tell me how he just wanted to enjoy every stage porque I wouldn’t be like that again. Pues, then we had Mireya jajaja so much for that!! No es cierto, no te creas jaja It was different each time.

Having apoyo and a cheer squad is importante. No importa if it’s your partner, or your comadres, tu mama, amigas, or the stranger in line at Gual Mar (Wal Mart) – listen to what they say – believe the positive and let go of the negative. Creo this is where that “glow” factor comes into play.

Cuando estas pregnant, tooooodoooos are like awww, wowww, congratulations, you look great, you’re glowing, pregnancy suits you, mira la pansita, que hermosa, felicidades, no lo puedo creer, you’re going to be such an amazing mom, que bendicion!! Jejeje Verdad?! Am I right?! It’s like that feeling when it’s your birthday, you’re just feliz and nothing can bring you down, todos are wishing you happy birthday, es lo mejor. Pues, when you’re pregnant, it’s the same type of feeling – pues para mi it was. Even if I had just yaked out my car door on the side of the road con Javi in the back seat, with morning traffic going by on my way to work – cuando alguien would say “awww look at that bump” es como Mr. Clean arrived with his magic eraser and just erased my past 10 minute yak fest – and all is blissful again. Jaja. It’s like hell yeah, I’m growing a human!! Even if it’s just for 10 seconds, and then back to ay Dios ya no puedo mas – those 10 seconds give you that glow! Te juro.

Bueno, back to el cuerpo! Mis chichis were still outta control jaja. Pero I didn’t mind sooo much. Hasta…

Post breastfeeding. I was fortunate enough to breastfeed Javi por 7 meses and Mireya por 5 meses. Pero lo que no me esperaba was how much mis chichis would change after feeding two infants! Te dije, I was a C34… to a DD34… to now… tristemente, A34. Queeeee?! Ya se!! Se alimentaron and left me high and dry jajaja. It’s one of my insecurities now, amongst the fact that I am mas flaca than pre-pregnancies. Pero, I am learning to accept myself the way I am ahora. Acordandome that mi cuerpo grew mis chamacos, housed them each por 9 meses, nourished them for their first months en el mundo, y tambien es mi cuerpo that allows me to do all the things I do on a daily basis. Nos tenemos que cuidar, poderosas! 

Dealing with Postpartum Anxiety tuvo mas efectos on my physical health as well as my mental health. I’ve had to learn how I could get to know myself again, commit to spending more time con mi misma, start to like and accept myself y finalmente sobre todo, amarme de nuevo (love myself again). I’ve gone from never pregnant, to pregnant, to breastfeeding, to pregnant again, breastfeeding again, y ahora back to my “new normal” self. Fue demasiado. Y la verdad, is that I had lost a lot of who I was. 

I’ve heard this quote before, algo que decia “you don’t miss the places you’ve been or the chapters you’ve had to close, what you miss is who you were then, because you know you will never be that same person ever again.” ← Mucho siiiiiiiiiiii. Asi me siento. It’s not so much how I looked before becoming a mama, what I wore, how I did my hair, the numbers that defined me (clothing, scale, height and weight), pero the confident, sure of herself, me vale madre, chingona mujer that I was. Y I had lost that somewhere along the way. Along the way of giving so much of myself a mis chamacos, bebesitos then, y a mi familia – that I hadn’t given myself enough time to keep that spark glowing.

El apoyo. The cheer squad is so valuable at this stage, or al menos it was for me. I didn’t need them to uplift me, to give me all the compliments, to big me up, to blow hot air – no. Lo que necesitaba was their support in knowing that I could step back from this mama role from time to time to spend time with just ME. Necesitaba tiempo to get to know myself de nuevo. This now mom of dos chamacos, not pregnant, not breast feeding, wearing my regular clothes and having some time to actually look decent on a daily basis new version of ME. Pues, “mucho gusto” (nice to meet you) porque I had no idea where to start.

Del comienzo. Claro, you start from the beginning. Aver, what did I like to wear? Where did I shop? What did I do con todo ese tiempo that I had for myself? Pues fue una aventura. It was dificil at first, pero then it got fun. I started wanting and looking forward to spending more time with ME, and discovering all these cool things about myself all over again. Like daaaaang, I ammmm dope AF. Jajaja. I DO look kahyoooot in these outfits, I CAN wear stylish and trendy things, I DO enjoy shopping again. Y tambien, it helps if you have some dope AF amigas to inspire and help you along the way.  

Tener hijos is no easy task. It’s a true gift, de Dios, to be like Him, to do His work. Y eso son some big zapatos to fill. Pero tu tambien eres un gift de Dios, and He wouldn’t want you to lose yourself either. You matter. You’re important. Eres volorosa. Eres la madre y the role model para tus chamacos. Show yourself and prove it to yourself how you can respect yourself, value yourself, care for yourself y sobre todo, lo tanto que te amas! You will forever have that “glow” (not just for pregnancies, or birthdays!) y tus chamacos will feel your energia and they too will vibe. Issa viiibe!! Amate, mujer. Con ganas. 

*Pic from IG @somos__magia Artisit unknown.

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