Postpartum Perfect (#Mwc Death)
RIP quondam body, welcome to your new temple
There is a line that cuts across my belly. It is six inches wide, seven layers deep, and sometimes gets itchy. It stays tucked away under a light jiggly flap of skin that is so stubborn it just won’t leave because it knows that if it leaves I won’t learn. I won’t learn to treat this new body like a temple, to bid a final farewell to the former me.
There is a line that cuts across my belly and it is a doorway into memories. The line remembers the very first movements of my daughter’s body when she was in utero: the sweetest little flutters I’ve ever felt, the feeling of life within. The line remembers the feeling of ever so carefully applying generous amounts of cocoa butter all over my belly to prevent the onset of stretchmarks. The line remembers the “turn over!”, the blood, the dropping heartbeat, the panic, the influx of doctors and nurses, the race down the hall to the OR, the mask, the gas, the nothing.
My daughter has a scar on her head to match the one on my belly. Her scar is the speed at which they had to take her out from the other world, the warm amniotic pool she had been living in. She has a tiny little cut on her head from the saving of her life in a number of minutes. She also has lifelong damage to her brain, but that’s another story.
The line on my belly is an intersectionality between life and death; between an old me and a new me; between what could have been and what is. It is a magic door that rescued my baby and as much as I want that stubborn flap to disappear, to shrivel away and bring back my smooth maiden stomach, I am learning to embrace my new postpartum perfect and let my old body slip away.
I can be strong AND shriveled.
I can be solid AND soft.
I can be forever young, WHILE also growing old.
Postpartum perfect isn’t about the abs back and the skinny jeans [side note: I could never really fit into those anyways…what woman actually can?]. Rather, postpartum perfect is about learning to live in a new temple with new stories to mark the journey there. A temple in which my stretch marks are hieroglyphs of heroism, my scar a chiseled masterpiece engraved with seven secrets, and that flap… that stubborn flap is my holy scripture: the reminder to embrace the imperfection, to celebrate the wisdom, and to be a loving mother.
Try as I may with toe taps and glute curls, pelvic tilts and crunches, my body will never absorb the flap back into me because you can’t shut a door that you also want to keep open. I don’t want to lose this opportunity to NOT be perfect. So, I welcome the old me into the new one. I bid farewell to my old home and step into the temple.
There is a line that cuts across my belly, and sometimes, if I’m really really quiet, I can still feel her move. Here, give me your hand, can you feel it?