By Jamequa Redmond Summerall
There comes a point in the life of every woman who has had a child when she must do the unthinkable… face that “new” woman in the mirror. That’s right, I said “new” , because, unfortunately, any woman that has produced a little peanut will eventually see the results of her labor. It may take a moment or two to come to grips with the new form she sees.
When I had my daughter three years ago, I never imagined that I would look any different after. I just assumed that after everything, I would magically be able to go back into my pre-pregnancy jeans and cute tops. Not so much. When I finally bellied up to the mirror, I took a moment. Then two. In the end, I stared at myself for 12 minutes and 24 seconds in sheer horror. I completely did not recognize the woman before me.
Without going into too much detail, just know there may have been a lot of crying involved and some gnashing of teeth. It was all cathartic, in a way.
But, after that moment, I never looked in the mirror again. Every time I brushed my teeth, showered, etc., that new woman would be there, but darned if I would meet her eyes. In the end, my lack of concern or attention to myself led to me gaining weight and in essence disappearing. Who cared if I was not the me I thought I’d be. I threw myself into my new role and said, “My baby is my world. Who cares about me?” I was invisible behind this amazing little person.
Fast forward three years and I found myself pregnant with my son. I made a promise that this time would be different. This time I would eat healthy. This time I would take time for me. This time, I would have a healthy baby AND my sense of self.
And it worked.
I found books to help me eat healthy. I loved two so much I asked the library to add them to the collection. The 100 Healthiest Foods To Eat During Pregnancy by Jonny Bowden has a trimester-by-trimester guide to the foods that will give you the most bang for your caloric buck. Then there’s Eating for Pregnancy: An Essential Nutrition Guide and Cookbook for Today’s Mothers to Be by Catherine Cheremeteff Jones that combines recipes and suggestions for the best eating experience one can have. Here before me were suggestions on what to eat that did not take a million years to make (who has that much time?) and were so much better than the fast food that I would have been munching.
And yes, I gained weight. But, not as much.
I found the time to be me, not just mommy. When I looked into the mirror this time, I smiled. The woman that I saw looked a lot like me. Sure she was still sporting a few extra pounds, but not as much. Thanks to eating better, I actually ended my pregnancy healthier (and lighter) and in better shape than I started. My recovery time this time around was amazingly short. (Although, in the interest of full disclosure, that could also be because I had a three year old to chase.)
I have continued my healthier habits and I can see the results. My entire family is benefiting because of it. In the coming months, I plan to take this one step further: I am eager to try new recipes, eager to attempt new physical activities. I am a healthier happier me and that is truly awesome!