Mary Sylvestre (32) and Julia (2)
Mary shares -
“Parenthood has impacted my body image in so many ways - before i was pregnant i was very active and watched what I ate. I remember buying this skirt right before I was pregnant and thinking, I will keep this as a reminder of what my body was like and my goal to get back into shape after the baby. Wow that was a bad idea!! My body has changed in so many ways, i had to get rid of all of my clothes from before I was pregnant. I held onto them for awhile and then eventually got rid of them. It has taken my almost two years to start to accept my new body and embrace it.
Some days are better than others, the more and more I surround myself with positive images and stay away from things that make me feel bad about myself, the more that has helped! I think it is SO IMPORTANT to surround yourself with positive images and I did not have enough of that when first becoming a new mom. I am starting to see my body as an amazing thing, that grew, birthed and has fed a human for 2 years. I want women bodies to be more celebrated for those amazing miracles and not "loosing the baby weight" and "getting your body back" getting your body back from where?! My old self is gone anyway, my whole identity as a person has changed and i am starting to realize it is ok (and good!) that my body reflects this life changing event!
One word really keeps coming to mind about the postpartum time.... INTENSE! Birth is such a crazy thing, you get thrown into parenthood from an physically/mentally/emotionally exhausted and sleep deprived state and then that just continues for months, for years! Motherhood has been a hard transition for me. I have always been so sensitive and motherhood has pushed that even more. I am so much more vulnerable and anxious than I used to be, which was made worse but the sleep deprivation and intensity specifically in the first couple of months. I remember at first feeling so isolated - like my love for my daughter was SO BIG and so intense and how could anyone ever feel or understand that feeling in the exact way I was feeling it. The need and desire to protect her from everything felt so big too. Then at the same time, being so appreciative that my daughter and I were both healthy and then feeling guilty when I had hard days and questioned what I was doing and getting frustrated with her and myself. The range of emotions is so intense.
I am so lucky to have such a wonderful family who has been so supportive. I have also been so lucky to have made some amazing life changing mom friends that have helped me feel like I was not alone on this journey.... this has been so important and helped me in the transition. One thing I was not prepared for and took me awhile to accept has been the total identity change I have felt as a mom. It has changed who I want to spend my time with, how I relate to other people and the world, how I communicate and understand my husband and our relationship, the list goes on and on! I feel like when she (my daughter) was born, so was I. So I had to grieve my old life and who I was and learn to love, understand and accept the new me. Not an easy task and I am still working on this everyday but it has gotten easier with more time and perspective and I am grateful for that!
I feel very passionate about telling a realistic story and experience of postpartum bodies and motherhood expectations. As a women and now a mother to a girl I feel it is especially important to share these stories so women of all ages see what is happening in the real world not just on TV and social media. I want to share all of the emotions of the motherhood, the good and the bad and that you can feel them all at the same time and that is normal and ok!
I also wanted to participate for myself. I am definitely on a journey with body acceptance and self love and I felt like this was a great way to positively influence that! I lately been trying to fill up my social media with projects like this and get rid of the things that make me doubt myself and body in anyway. I am learning how to love the new me, as a mom and I feel like participating will help me do this! I also really want to be a positive role model for all young girls to embrace that we are all different and that can be so hard but also beautiful and wonderful at the same time.