What do you see when you look in the mirror?
Me? I see a warrior. A fighter. Resilience. A strong (but scarred) woman.
But… I also see a reflection that makes me sad. One that reminds me of the second trimester stillbirth of my twin babies, and the evidence of three plus years of infertility treatments. I haven’t lost all the “baby” weight yet, and I have no baby. I am reminded that my body is not doing what it’s naturally supposed to be able to do.
So when I look in the mirror, it’s not always a great feeling.
Dealing with body image after loss is tough, and often a very lonely road. I’ll be honest— I carry my babies in my heart. They are with me every single moment of every single day. I don’t need, or want, to look in the mirror and every time be reminded of the loss of what I almost had, or the loss of what could have been. It really plays with my confidence. Also, people just aren’t used to talking to a woman who has lost a baby about body image. They don’t really know what to say and so it usually doesn’t get talked about.
And while we’re being honest, let’s just put this out there also— the fact is that when you are undergoing fertility treatments, this too can wreak havoc on both your body and your mind. The hormones we put into our bodies every day can promote weight gain, and the amount of stress one feels during this whole process can cause your body to hold onto weight as well. I think people assume that the weight gain can be dealt with by just switching to salads and grilled chicken. And hell, maybe it can to a point, but with all the additional stress and hormones, your body does go a bit haywire. And frankly, I don’t want to eat salads every day because I’m dealing with sh&t and for the love of God I’M FRUSTRATED AND I WANT A HAMBURGER! But…
I also want my body back.
Is that selfish? Is it shallow?
I don’t think so. When I talk about how I feel about my body these days, my friends and family are sympathetic and very supportive. They say, “Give yourself a break, your body has been through the wringer.” And it has. I know it has. And I know I should be gentle with myself…but still. I think many people assume that I want my pre-pregnancy body back simply for vanity reasons. And sure, part of me does. I’m not going to lie— I’d rather feel like strutting my stuff in a bikini than feel like I want to wear a t-shirt in the pool. But for the most part, I want my body back to get my mindset back to a good place.
This may sound all “woe is me”, but a big part of me wants to scream “This isn’t fair! I worked so hard to have a baby, and it didn’t happen. I don’t want to work hard to get my body back too. I deserve for it to just go back to how it was!”
Really I just want a break from having to be so regimented and controlled, but I don’t think that’s how this life works.
I want to be proud of my body, of what it has been through and survived and come back from. I want to feel strong in every way I can. And, goddammit, I want to feel sexy again!
Here it is in a nutshell: I want to feel like myself again. I know I’ll get there, but it will take some time. I need to accept what happened and accept that this will take work to get back to where I want to be. This holds true both physically and mentally and although there will be good days and bad, I’m up for the challenge.
By Brooke Caruk, ithinkaboutyouallthetimeblog.wordpress.com