I have two children, two gorgeous and amazing little boys. They are my whole world, the centre of my universe, the apple of my eye, the anchors to my life. I am so proud of them and I love them beyond measure. But as much as I adore my beautiful children, I'm full of self-doubt and hate for my post-baby body.
I loved my pregnant body. I felt absolutely wonderful and embraced my growing bump during both of my pregnancies. But my post-baby body is proving a little harder to love.
I look in the mirror and this is what I see:
I see hair that is limp and fine. Hair that is recovering from the post-partum moult and has those fuzzy, downy bits of regrowth that create a frizzy-looking halo around my head.
I see dark circles under my eyes that require a tonne of concealer, because I haven't had a full night's sleep in over three years.
I see breasts stuffed into unflattering nursing bras, that look misshapen thanks to the breast pads that I rely on.
I see hands that are dry and nails that are broken and unpolished, from constant washing and cleaning.
I see a soft, squishy tummy that still overhangs my jeans a little, even though I have lost all of my pregnancy weight, because I just don't have the time to work out or go for a run.
I see the ugly scar from my eldest son's emergency c-section birth, reminding me of how I failed him and the trauma we both endured.
I hate that I feel like this. I adore my children and I'm so very proud of them. My body has changed because it grew them, brought them into the world and cares for them. My body has changed - I need to change my mind-set, too.
I need to see the positive reasons for these changes:
I need to see hair that is recovering because my body put all of its resources into growing healthy babies. My body took care of my babies' needs before mine.
I need to see dark circles that represent the night feeds and the cuddles, cuddles that are just as important to my children as food and shelter. They represent all the times that I choose my babies' needs over my own. These quiet times that will soon pass and, when they do, these times that I will miss.
I need to see breasts that provided colostrum to help my first baby get better while he was in SCBU. Breasts that provided him with milk and comfort into toddlerhood. Breasts that are nourishing my second baby, as well as providing milk to donate to other poorly and premature babies.
I need to see hands that hold smaller hands. Hands that clean, cook and care for my family. Hands that comfort and protect my children. Hands that can soothe my children with a gentle touch or cause peals of laughter with a little tickle.
I need to see a tummy that surrounded and protected my children for nine months. A tummy that stretched and made way to accommodate my babies while they grew.
I need to see a beautiful scar that brought my son into the world.
As someone so kindly said to me, "Your body is a vessel and your journey is bound to leave marks on it... Thing is if you love the ride and where life is leading you, why mind the few bumps and scratches conceded on the way and why not love your body for making the journey possible in the first place?"
A version of this post was first published here.
Read more from Sian on her blog Quite Frankly She Said.