My pregnancy was the first time in my entire life when I gained weight on purpose.
I had spent so many years pushing myself to be thin that when the time came to grow my baby, I had to remind myself I needed to grow, too. It was scary and uncomfortable at first, but once I got the hang of it, I started to enjoy the process. For the first time, I could eat without being painfully restrictive. Sweet relief!
And then, my daughter was born. Like so many new moms, I was left feeling bigger, softer, and more confused than ever. Wait a minute, these stretch marks just stick around? Why is my tummy not shrinking while I breastfeed? Well hello there, hips!
With all these new concerns, it helps to have someone remind us that our new mom bod should never be a source of shame. For Mariah Kaitlyn Herrera, that someone came in the form of her amazing nurses at Charnelton Medical Clinic in Oregon.
Herrera was not looking forward to getting weighed in for the first time after birthing her son, Isaiah. In fact, she was downright terrified. “I knew I had gained so much weight during pregnancy, but I didn’t even want to know what the scale said,” she tells Babble.
But the mom didn’t have to ask, because the nurses had left a note by the scale that immediately softened any and all worries.
In a heartfelt Instagram post last week, Herrera shares the words on the pink slip of paper she saw:
“This scale will only tell you the numerical value of your gravitational pull. It will not tell you how beautiful you are, how much your friends and family love you, or how amazing you are,” it says.
I’m not crying, you’re crying!
As soon as she read the note, the mama decided that worrying about her current weight was not important in that moment. So she didn’t even look at it. “I asked the nurse not to tell me,” she says. “My mood had completely changed! I was happy and lighthearted, almost as if a weight has been lifted off my chest.”
In sharing the note, Herrera hopes to inspire new mothers to treat themselves with kindness. She also wants to help us change the limiting beliefs we have about our postpartum bodies. Despite whatever hefty ideals our society places on us to immediately “bounce back,” the most important thing we can do is love our bodies for the life-giving miracles they are.
“Self-loathing is such a big thing that nobody talks about… I know a lot of mothers who have struggled,” she explains. “You have to wait a certain amount of time before you can exercise. It’s like a waiting game … but you have made a HUMAN. Things have changed. And that’s something I really had a hard time wrapping my head around now that I am covered in stretch marks.”
It sure is nice when a mama acknowledges a truth we can all relate to.
Herrera will be the first to admit she had one heck of a challenging pregnancy. She was diagnosed with preeclampsia, and Isaiah had shoulder dystocia in the womb, which led to an emergency surgery after birth. Through it all, she realized her own inner strength, and that has made all the difference in her self-acceptance journey.
“I learned how strong I am and how many obstacles I could overcome for someone I love,” she tells Babble. “Now, I love my body more than ever. My son is so perfect, and this body made him. I love all of it.”
Since seeing the note, Herrera wants every new mom to follow in the same loving tradition she experienced.
“Put sticky notes on your mirrors to remind yourself daily that you made a human being,” she says. “Look at your son or daughter and remind yourself that YOU did that. You are so strong and so brave. Don’t ever be ashamed of yourself from this day on.”
My daughter is almost 2 years old and I am still working on embracing my post-baby body. Thanks to moms like Mariah Kaitlyn Herrera, I will happily continue riding the self-love train.