Before I had my two boys, my body definitely wasn't perfect. I was a size 12-14, had big boobs (they're hereditary!), wide hips and a big bum to match. There were issues I had with my body but overall I was fairly happy. I didn't have washboard abs and my stomach wasn't flat but I was pretty confident. In my early teen years I suffered with terrible acne (the joy of hormones) and kids at school, especially boys, were nasty. I remember a boy I had a crush on calling me Spoticus in the corridor. Yup. So, once I left school and started to find myself away from the pressures of conformity, I started to feel comfortable. And then I met my now fiancé and he really helped how I felt. Here was this amazing man who loved me for me. I'd found him, I didn't need to try so hard anymore.
And then I had our boys.
Our first was an emergency caesarean. I'd gone through an induction and 11 hours of labour, plus half an hour of pushing before they decided he needed literally ripping from my stomach. I was left with the typical overhang that happens with a section. I don't remember the exact moment when I realised my tummy had changed beyond recognition. I just remember my clothes I wore before I got pregnant didn't fit me anymore and the style I had just didn't suit my new body shape. I spent the next 18 months in baggy tops and leggings. I rarely wore jeans and I hated clothes shopping. Going into the high street stores brought me out in a state of panic. All these young, slim girls were shopping in there. I was only 21 but I didn't feel like I belonged there.
During my pregnancy with my second son, I bought one item of maternity clothing: jeans. I didn't get the perfectly round bump. The overhang stayed, even at 38 weeks. I was having to wear Bridget Jones style pants all the time, just to hold it all in. Looking back now, it just makes me realise how baggy my clothes actually were. They could cover a nine-month bump with space to grow. He was born by semi-emergency section (it was planned but needed to be brought forward for a variety of reasons). It was a lot calmer than my first. I think this contributed to how my stomach looks now.
I'm now nearly 23 with a three and one year old. I've still got the kangaroo pouch, I don't think it's improved at all. But I've accepted that it's part of me now. It grew, nourished and loved my boys before they were ready to come out. Why did I have such an aversion to it? Because society told me I should? I realised that if I didn't at least accept it and try ad grow to love it, I would always be miserable with how I looked. I'm not exaggerating when I say it's only been in the last three months that I've started doing things for me again. I've bought new clothes, had two new piercings and dyed my hair bright colours. I think I was trying to hold onto the old me and my old style. I've grown up a lot in three years, I'm not that person anymore. I'm a mother and with that title, comes a mumbod. I'm proud of my title, why can't I be proud of my body too?
HuffPost UK Parents has launched 'Mumbod', a new section to empower mums and mums-to-be to feel confident about their bodies pre- and post-baby. We'd also love to hear your stories. To blog for Mumbod, email firstname.lastname@example.org. To keep up to date with features, blogs and videos on the topic, follow the hashtag #MyMumbod.