The Miracle of a Woman’s Body
This post isn’t about running.
It is about finishing a race of sorts.
Today was my last day of pumping– my 1+ year breastfeeding “marathon” is now complete. There was no crowd cheering as I crossed this invisible finish line. It was just me, sitting alone in my double-wide rocker-recliner, reflecting on this challenging journey of breastfeeding twins for over a year.** I could write an essay about our attempts at tandem nursing, then nursing one after the other, then nursing one and pumping for the other, and, then eventually after several months of “triple feeding,” exclusively pumping for both. I honestly don’t know how I lasted this long- in the first 2 months, I just wanted to give up. I nursed and pumped every 2-3 hours around the clock. I hardly slept- if I slept for a 4 hour stretch, I felt AHHHMAZING. I would record long-winded, sobbing voice messages to my lactation consultant about how much I hated pumping and prayed that I’d somehow find a way to nurse both twins- that Benji in particular would get the hang of it. Just when I wanted to quit, I’d hear her voice say, “Don’t quit on your worst day.” So, I’d keep going.. which is how I ended up here, nearly 13 months later, finally saying goodbye to my trusty pink-n-white companion.
But this post isn’t just about breastfeeding.. it’s more than that.
As women, we are so hard on ourselves, so critical of our bodies… we hold ourselves up to these ridiculous, completely unrealistic ideals of what a woman should look or act like. We spend our lives dieting, investing heavily in the diet industry, and squeezing ourselves into shapewear to make ourselves appear smaller. We’d (sadly) rather be called “stupid” than be called “fat.” While we are obsessing over a number on the scale or dress size, we forget that we too are uniquely and wonderfully made, that the very bodies we try so hard to constrain and control are capable of creating and cultivating MIRACLES.
Even after years of deprogramming, I am still easily lured back into the same toxic thinking. If you’ve read my past blog posts, then you know that I spent my formative years struggling with an eating disorder and a very distorted body image. I can look at this photo of myself as I cross the finish line, and, rather than see a healthy woman, I focus on the extra 8-10 pounds of baby weight I’m still carrying… the loose skin around my middle, the extra flesh on my thighs. How quickly I can downward spiral into feeling ashamed of my body, of wanting to hide….
But in this moment captured by the race photographer, I wasn’t thinking about my weight or the size of my thighs as I crossed the finish line. I was momentarily free of self-consciousness and shame as I raised my arms in the air. I was filled with the jubilation and triumph of a woman who has been “running” a decade-long marathon to complete her family… who has gone to great lengths to help her babies flourish during their first year of life… who has pushed herself to recover her strength and endurance. This was much more than just the finish line of a neighborhood 5k- it was the celebration of one woman’s journey, a celebration of LIFE.
Friends, as we close this year and begin anew, what I hope is that you too find these moments of standing in the LIGHT where you feel completely ONE with God.. where you feel at peace in the skin you are in.. where you raise your hands up in unabashed TRIUMPH.
(Photo by Terrhan Photography, NFC/ Family Point Turkey Trot 5k on 11/21/2020- my first race in 2 years since having the twins.)
**A footnote to say that I also LOVE and fully support FORMULA. All 3 of my babies have had formula at various times, and for various reasons, and they have turned out just FINE. This post isn’t intended to make any mom feel badly about giving her babies formula! Whatever works for you and your baby is all that matters.