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How to embrace your post-baby body
While waiting for a visit from my family after having given birth, I wondered if I should stay in my gown or change. Changing would reveal my swollen belly and other post-baby things. I decided to change and discuss any questions. I'm glad I did. - photo by Arianne Brown
While sitting in my hospital bed the day after having given birth to our most recent addition, I got a phone call from my husband saying that he was on his way to the hospital with our six other children in tow.

Right then, I looked down and saw that I was still wearing my hospital gown. Having worn this the day before when the kids first came to visit, I thought it might be good to clean up a bit and put some regular clothes on. Just as quickly as that thought entered my mind, I was reminded of my swollen belly and other post-pregnancy body changes.

The hospital gown, although not flattering at all, did a great job of hiding what I didnt want to be front and center when my kids came. After all, I do have some very observant and inquisitive children.

My mind kept justifying why I needed to stay in that gown while at the same time questioning what it was that I was really hiding from my children.

I thought of my two daughters, who would hopefully someday give birth to their own children. Did I want them to be ashamed of the body they saw in the mirror after having just given birth?

I then thought of four older sons, who would someday have their own wives give birth. Was hiding what I looked like doing them and their future wives a disservice? Maybe allowing my sons to see me like this would help them gain respect for women and for childbirth.

With all those thoughts going through my head, I carefully changed my clothes.

Sure enough, as the kids entered the room, and as I stood up to hug each of them, the first of a few comments came from my 6-year-old daughter: Your belly is still big. Is there another baby in there?

This comment was followed up by my (trying-to-be-witty) 11-year old son, who said, See, I told you it was twins.

Their comments gave me the perfect opportunity to tell them about all the wonderful things that my body did to protect the baby while he was in me, and that it would take a little bit of time for things to move back into place.

My 6-year-old then brought up how big the top part of me was. They werent that big yesterday, she said.

That was another great comment that allowed me to talk to my kids about breastfeeding. Now that the baby is out, my body cannot feed him the way it used to, I told them. My body is now getting ready to provide the nourishment he needs to live outside of me. Pretty amazing, isnt it?

They all agreed that it was, and I could tell that they were satisfied with my answers and that a seed of appreciation had been planted.

Before the conversation was over, there would be one more prolific statement from my 8-year-old son: No wonder you look so tired.

Truer words were never spoken, and I have a feeling that this tired look will last a lot longer than my swollen body. But there is one thing of which I am certain: It is all worth it.
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