During my first pregnancy I loved everything about my tummy. It has always been my "trouble" area so at 6 weeks I took great pleasure to attributing my tummy lady lumps to the growing baby inside me.
The love affair with my round and full tummy lasted 9 months and halted abruptly when it no longer housed a little human being.
I remember sitting in the shower in a commode chair after the birth of my first child, Oliver, and thinking, "Faaaaark, that was a bit full on!" (Reflections on laboring for 18 hours, pushing for 3 and getting a suppository up my bottom as the trifecta.) I looked down at my tummy, and it resembled something from the 80s movie "The Blob." I remember thinking, Oh it will return to normal, just give it some time. (The present me just laughs bahahahahaha at the notion of that!)
Weeks went on and my tummy still remained jelly-like and to top it off my nipples had grown to the size of dinner plates. I had it all going on so I decided to be proactive and join a netball team. Getting back into a team sport was fun, getting Ollie into a crèche and forgetting about being a mother was even better.
All was going really well until one day I took a dazzling intercept and wet my pants. Goddamned pelvic floors got smashed during my pregnancy, and all I could think was why did I only do my pelvic floor exercises for the 30 seconds that followed the question from my physio girlfriend: "Have you been doing your strengthening exercises?"
So there I was, standing there on the netball court, completely blindsided, mortified with wee running down my leg. Here I was trying to be proactive about getting my body back into shape and all I could think was how disloyal it was being to me.
Whilst I was dealing with wetting my pants, and those nipples, I was surrounded by imagery and messages like: "My dream baby!" "How I got back into my pre-baby jeans!" "Being a mother is magical!"
The magazine covers looked like this.
But there was no magazine cover that looked like this.
There was another incident that occurred one night when I was walking from a friend's house with my husband, pushing 6 week old Oliver in the pram. I got the urge to do a number two; it was a "touching cloth" situation. I screamed to my husband "Run ahead, open the gate and the house and have the toilet door open and ready for me."
He ran ahead, and I ran along my street pushing the Bugaboo as fast as I could. If any of the neighbors saw us, I'm sure they would've thought, Oh how delightful, that new family being all healthy and having a run on a Saturday night. Little did they know.
I made it through our fence (please note the "perfect, white, picket fence"), through the front door, into the hallway and, well, there's no other way to put it....
I shat my own pants.
I remember the mortified look on my husband's face as I shuffled my feet to the toilet to clean up my mess. I remember crying and thinking to myself, I am meant to be cleaning up my baby's mess, not my own.
Disloyal and disgusting body, I hate you.
I remember looking in the mirror and telling myself, "Your husband doesn't want to f*ck you, you are revolting."
So many changes occur to a woman's body during pregnancy and after birth and yet society and the media glosses over all the (literally) shitty stuff and feeds us the unicorns and fairytale version of motherhood and parenting.
At a time when women need to be supported there are very few "real" stories, but instead a plethora of smoke and mirrors, over-embellished stories of bliss, ecstasy and pleasure and lies -- goddamned lies. Getting your body back into your pre-pregnancy jeans ISN'T easy! And motherhood isn't always joyous!
I've since learned to love my body. It's taken a lot of effort, time and energy but I can tell you there is nothing better than a.) loving your body wholeheartedly, lumps and bumps and all and b.) telling society where they can shove their ideals of beauty.
It's now my mission to help prevent as many women as possible from feeling the way I felt. I plan to do this by sharing wee and poo stories across the globe, and challenging the notion that behind the razzle and dazzle of every front-page celebrity story, there is a woman who poos too, maybe has the odd nipple hair and perhaps even has her own set of insecurities. My tummy has housed three babies and my boobs have provided over 4000 meals to my tribe; for that I am proud of my body and no longer ashamed.
To all you amazing moms out there currently navigating dinner plates, weeing on the netball court or a having little accidents in your cottontails, please know you are not alone. United in the reality of shit and piss we stand.