Do you remember that part in Gone With the Wind when Scarlet has just had her baby and is upset because Mammy can only get her corset laced up to 21 inches instead of her pre-pregnancy 19 inches ?
Mammy tells her, "Honey child, you done had a baby. You ain't never gun a be 19 inches again."
My little nursling will be 7 months old soon and my body is still not back to how it was before I was pregnant with her. Even though I've been back to my original weight for a few months (breastfeeding works wonders on my metabolism) my body is still different. I'm sure you wouldn't notice anything by looking at me, but I've lived in my body for a quarter of century and I can tell you that things aren't the same as before-- my hips are wider, my chest is a bit more saggy, my core muscles aren't quite as tight, and I have six purple marks on my side that remind me my belly really can stretch to an unfathomable size.
I just have to keep telling myself, "Heather child, you done had two babies. Your body ain't never gun a be the same again."
It has taken me awhile to come to terms with it, but it is true. No matter how hard I try my body is never going to be the same as it was before I had my children. My children are literally parts of myself and they exist because my body sacrificed blood, cells, calcium, iron, and millions of other particles to make them. I am literally missing pieces of my body that I will never be able to get back because they are now walking, talking, breathing, laughing, crying, and living in the form of two beautiful children. Becoming a mother, even if you don't physically give birth to a child, requires a huge sacrifice from your body and spirit. It is a sacrifice, that according to Elder Bruce C. Hafen of the First Quorum of the Seventy of the LDS church and his wife Marie K. Hafen, greatly parallels the sacrifice made by our Savior, they said:
"Just as a mother's body may be permanently marked with the signs of pregnancy and childbirth, [the Savior] said, 'I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands' (1 Ne. 21:15–16). For both a mother and the Savior, those marks memorialize a wrenching sacrifice--the sacrifice of begetting life--for her, physical birth; for him, spiritual rebirth" ("'Eve Heard All These Things and Was Glad': Grace and Learning by Experience," in Dawn Hall Anderson and Susette Fletcher Green, eds.,Women in the Covenant of Grace: Talks Selected from the 1993 Women's Conference [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1994], p. 29)."It gives me strength to remember that just as Christ bears marks in his hands, feet, and side as symbols of his blood sacrifice I too have stretch marks on my side that bear testimony to my sacrifice of blood and my willingness to bring life into the world. I find strength to go forward with my mothering by remembering that just as Christ's body was resurrected, making him complete physically and spiritually, that my body is constantly renewing itself and that one day I too will be complete, physically and spiritually. I also know that my joy is more full because of my children and that because of the sacrifice my body has made life will go forward and my family will go on eternally.
So for all the mothers our there I want to remind you to rejoice in your stretch marks, to be grateful for your extra weight and wider hips, to accept your c-section scar, and to find joy in the tired bags under your eyes because they are symbols of your sacrifice.
For all you who have yet to become mothers I want to remind you to rejoice in the blood you shed each month because it is a beautiful symbol of hope and it bears testimony to the promise of continuing life.
And for all you women who are struggling with loving and accepting your body I want to remind you that anything or anyone that belittles, exploits, demeans, or mistrusts your body is not from God. Your body is beautiful, mind boggling amazing, and so deeply symbolic of Christ. Also, remember that in the eternal scheme of things-- frankly my dear, no one will give a damn if you had a 19 inch waist or not. If you are shocked by my swearing, you need to watch the end of Gone with the Wind :)
This guest post is from Heatherlady who blogs at Tales From the Cottage Cheese Cottage and Women in the Scriptures. Heather is currently working on a book with some other LDS women called "The Gift of Giving Life: Rediscovering the Divine Nature of Pregnancy and Birth" and is looking for LDS women who'd like to share their spiritual experiences about pregnancy, birth, or becoming a mother. If you are interested you can go here to read more about the project.