If you’ve birthed a child, chances are you’ve had the talk. You know — the one where you discuss how you’ll get your body to bounce back after the baby arrives.
For me, it came in the form of a few concerned family members and even my own thoughts. I would worry to myself, thinking, “How the heck am I going to lose all of this weight, tighten my tummy, and get rid of those pesky stretch marks?” Which is basically code for wanting to erase all physical signs of being a new mom, so that my body can be acceptable to others.
Mom and musician Alexa Wilding also painfully felt the pressure to bounce back after birthing her twin boys, something she shares in a recent video for Allure magazine. The piece has naturally connected with many moms and has been shared over 91K times on Facebook, along with being viewed a whopping 9.4 MILLION times!
In the video, Wilding shares her vulnerable journey in dealing with the inches of extra tummy skin she experienced, after the birth of her twin sons. Wilding was struggling with her new body after she experienced abdominal separation in her pregnancy. During a time when she should be cheering herself on for accomplishing the miracle that is childbirth, Wilding did what so many of us do — she mourned the pre-baby body she no longer had.
Wilding recounts the moment that she realized how lost she felt in her postpartum body. She describes how one night while laying down next to her husband, she watched her stomach skin fall over. “It was like a landslide. There was so much of it that it was me, my husband, and this wad of flesh between us,” she tells Allure.
It was in that instance that Wilding felt the discomfort of knowing she could never go back to her old form again. And despite the courageous acts of giving birth to twins, nursing them for a year, and even seeing one of her kids through cancer treatment, Wilding was still grappling with the physical changes that are necessary to crossing the bridge into motherhood. “I missed that body I used to have,” she says. “I was grieving her … I knew she was an accepted standard of beauty.”
After visiting a hernia specialist to deal with some back pain, the doctor suggested that she go to the plastic surgery floor. It was there that Wilding was urged to have a tummy tuck as part of a “mommy makeover” — an ever popular surgery among new moms that also includes a boob lift and a lot of liposuction.
Wilding succumbed to the suggestion, but only opting for a tummy tuck.
And even after the surgery, she felt growing pressure to hide the remnants of her postpartum body. A friend suggested not telling anyone, but rather imply she had been working out a lot. And when her stomach skin started looking different in the months after receiving it, the doctor urged her to have ongoing plastic surgeries to fix it.
It was at this point when Wilding was able to get to the heart of why she was battling against her own body.
“That is when I realized what had really happened to me. It’s this maidenhood to motherhood transformation. And we as a culture, we wanna stay in maidenhood as long as possible. So many women are trying to erase that right of passage from their bodies, from their faces, [from] their experiences,” she tells Allure.
Once Wilding understood the real reason she felt so dissatisfied, she began to experience a sense of freedom. And while she’s still working to embrace this new freedom, she wants moms everywhere to let go of their postpartum body shame — and stop hiding. “I wanna dispel the myth that we have to go to crazy lengths to erase maternity from our bodies,” she says.
Wilding’s video couldn’t come at a better time, as I’ve recently begun my own journey into “body positivity” after giving birth to my daughter almost two years ago. Her story has allowed me to look at my postpartum body with more wonder, awe, and gratitude than I ever had before.
While I’ll probably never have a tummy tuck, and definitely never a “mommy makeover,” I completely empathize with any mom wanting a piece of her old body back. But do we crave this because we truly miss our pre-baby body, or because our society treats a mom bod with less admiration?
While I don’t have a full answer yet, I have decided to stand on the side of acceptance and self love. Many thanks to Alexa Wilding for speaking out about a part of motherhood so many of us are afraid to talk about. Because of her example, I’m happy with my stretch marks and tummy squish — and letting people see that I’m a mom.