Lauren Weyhe (32), Lola (4), and Harper (19 months)
San Francisco, CA
How has parenthood impacted your body image?
After my first birth I had known that my body would change, but didn’t know how, exactly. Because I was sick quickly after birth, I ended up getting near my pre-pregnancy weight, which I was congratulated on, when I’d have rather nobody bring it up at all. That’s not what I wanted to focus on, and my value isn’t placed on how much I weigh.
I didn’t know how to go shopping with a baby so it took a long time to buy clothes that would fit me right. I’ve learned since then that having correctly fitting clothes make a good difference in how I feel about how I look so now I make it a priority to take care of myself in that small way. I’ve noticed that when I’m feeling depressed, my body is an easy target for beating myself up. Hearing other women talk negatively about their own bodies influences my mind to go to that same place, so re-working that thought pattern takes some conscious work.
I have more energy and in general feel better about myself when I do something active, but I don’t always get time, or make time, to do what I enjoy, and that’s hard accepting about my life right now, taking care of two small children. It’s just something I have to work with right now in this chapter.
What was your postpartum experience?
I gave birth to Lola in hospital with a midwife. It wasn’t what I expected, it was a long labor that didn’t progress, until after 36 hours I finally received an epidural and was able to rest, then give birth 4 hours later. The actual delivery was quick, and the immediate postpartum was a whirlwind. I started feeling really tired, and experiencing bad back pain about 7-10 days after Lola was born. I thought that was just how I was supposed to feel. Different thermometers gave me different readings, but finally I decided to go see my midwife.
My white blood cells measured really high and they admitted me immediately, on my birthday, 2 weeks after Lola was born. I learned that I developed an infection that required me to be hospitalized for 3 nights and receive IV antibiotics almost constantly. I was told near discharge that my diagnosis was endometritis. I felt stressed being in the hospital, although Lola and my husband were able to stay with me, and I was able to breastfeed as normal. It felt like nobody knew where the infection was coming from. I only learned at the end from a doctor whom I had never met, and his group of students came in and announced “you have endometritis,” then left.
Four weeks after that, we moved to my home town near my parents and sister. Moving halfway across the country was the hardest part of having a baby. Although I was close to family, nobody, not my family, me, or my husband, knew how to navigate our lives with Lola, as she was the first grandchild on my family’s side. I missed our friends; and roles that members of my family played were different than I had expected. My husband moved away from his home for the first time in his life, which affected me because he needed more support than I could give at the time, but so did I.
I run my own business, and thought it would be way easier to find time to work while I was taking care of my baby. I was so wrong! I lost a bit of my former identity while struggling to get enough done during the day.
I knew with Harper I wanted a home birth. I heard it can be healing after a difficult first birth, and it absolutely was. It was an amazing experience, although painful, but this time around I trusted my body and things went a lot quicker. In so many ways postpartum with Harper was easier—feelings were familiar, I was confidant in taking care of a tiny human, I knew how to ask for what I needed.
However, in the midst of supporting me, my husband was exhausted and felt completely unsupported, himself. Working through our relationship and learning to communicate was the most difficult part of adjusting to my new life, and is something we still work on. With two kids, going places are just harder than with one. I was an avid hiker with a group called Hike it Baby, and after Harper was born I’ve only gone a few times, which has caused me to lose out on a little bit of purpose (I was a volunteer leader for the group) and community.
What brought you here today? Why did you choose to participate in this movement and share your story?
Following 4th Tri Bodies from right after Lola was born helped me be okay with my experience and my body. It reminds me that I’m not alone in this experience, that nobody is perfect. Instilling positive body image in my daughters is important to me, and I know they will learn through how I talk about mine and other’s bodies and by my example. Having a beautiful picture of us at this moment will remind me and them of how amazing our bodies are and how our experiences in our lives shape us and make us beautiful.