When you become a mother and you have this gorgeous tiny bundle of joy that you’ve been cooking for approximately 9 months and anxiously awaiting to meet them, you hear all the stories…feeding, changing, sleeping, relationships changing with your partner but what nobody seems to talk about is how your relationship will change with your body.
I became a mother for the first time when I was 20 years old and fresh out of drama school. I remember standing in front of a floor to ceiling mirror and seeing the reflection of an alien looking back at me.
“Why did I still look 5 months pregnant?”
“What are these dimples on my butt and thighs?”
“Why are my boobs covered in stretch marks?”
I was clueless. I was disgusted. I felt completely alone and ashamed.
I had never seen this side of motherhood, in the movies and TV shows you never saw the reality of postpartum, they just had that new mother glow as they posed with their new born baby. Where was my new mother glow? Maybe I left the hospital too early and it’s waiting back there for me almost 7 years later…and three other children, definitely think I’ve missed it by now.
I battled with the negative thoughts going round in my head and I longed for a my pre baby body back, a body that I had spent most of my life verbally and physically abusing. How does that make any sense?
Anyone else look back at photos when you were younger and you were completely convinced you were ‘fat’ and ‘ugly’ but really you look pretty good for a teenage girl!!
My relationship didn’t get any better with my body because 9 months later I fell pregnant again and this time it was twins. Yep, two for the price of one, thank you very much.
I spent most of my pregnancy wishing it would end so I could get my "pre baby body back” which lead to a postpartum journey filled with diet after diet, obsessing over the scales, becoming addicted to working out and developing disordered eating.
Even when I had success and lost weight, more than I had even set out to, it still wasn’t enough. The scale wins didn’t make me happy, I hated my postpartum body. The stretch marks and cellulite weren’t even the worst of it. The mum tum, the over hang, the loose skin haunted me even when I had clothes on. Throughout this journey I also had to face being a single mother, unworthy thoughts ran through my mind as I convinced myself that no one would want to have sex with me, let alone be in a relationship with someone who has three children.
It took years and a lot of effort to mend my relationship with my body, my mind and my soul. I found happiness and self acceptance within myself to find self love and body confidence.
My third postpartum journey was completely different, I was kind to myself, I gave myself time to heal, I exercised when I was ready and because I wanted to not to 'burn off that pizza'. I ate food, I kept my body fuelled, with healthy food and with whatever I desired, no restrictions no battling 'good or bad foods'. My mental health thanked me for it, I didn't battle with my brain through negative thoughts of my body or worrying about what others think. I wasn't counting down the days till I could start a diet and I didn't feel desperate to get my 'pre baby body back'. I made peace with my mum bod and I now celebrate how amazing it is and for what it has got me through in life. I will forever be grateful for how my body has carried my children and is still going strong. I wear my stretch marks, my cellulite, my mum tum with pride, these are all part of my story, my trophies.
In May 2019 I made the decision to write a book sharing my journey and how I came to love my body 'flaws' and all. Four weeks later I had written my first draft, 32,500 words of my life on a word document. I have been very raw and real with the stories I have shared in there, some I wanted to take out, but I left them in in hope that it will help stop someone from making the same mistakes I did.
We need the truth. We need reality. Not reality TV, but real mothers, real bodies, real stories of all variety. We have to be the start of this new 'trend' just being real.
'Stretched: A mother's journey to love her 'flaws' and how you can too'
She's published, she's out now, she's ready to go and empower women all over the world to conquer their body image issues. Not only have I shared my story, but I've complied all the best steps I've taken over the many years to get to where I am today. If you know someone who needs some guidance on their self love journey whether they're a mother or not, I believe that one or all of my 12 steps will make a positive impact on their life.
Always remember, you are never alone, we've got your back. If you need some girl power inspo or support please feel free to come and join our Facebook safe space. I can't wait to hear what you think, enjoy 'Stretched'.
With love & gratitude,
Ana Louise Bonasera
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Ana Louise Bonasera, mum of 4 boys, girl power enthusiast.