You Are Mothers

We are mothers what real postpartum is like

Have you seen The Footballer’s Wife photo, taken 4 days after having a baby, by a fitness blogger in Norway?  Carolin Berg Eriksen posts a toned selfie the week of her daughter’s birth.

Take a look.

footballers wife postpartum selfie opinion

It’s caused quite a stir.  People are crying out saying she’s fat shaming, saying the photo hurts women, or claiming she’s a fraud.  Myself?  Yeah, I’m a little jealous of her nursery.  But I’m not coveting her body.

Do I think it’s photoshopped?  Nah.  Other pics of this blogger show she has a natural beauty and quite a fit body.   Like many blogs, her website shows all the best parts of her life.  Beautiful clothes. Perfect hair.  Life on a stage.

That’s not life.  Life is messy.

Brace yourselves, folks.  I’m about to get real all up in here.  Because this blog is not about life on a stage.  Well, it is a poorly directed production with a cast of all star miscellaneous children.  I’ll give you that.

I’m not sure I even believe the hype about that photo.  It looks a little suspicious to me.

Why? THIS:

footballers wife postpartum selfie lacks maxi pads

She is not wearing a mattress pad stuffed in her underwear.  See, when you give birth you end up with stuff coming out of places you didn’t even know you had.  It’s so bad the hospital gives you DISPOSABLE UNDERWEAR.  And no woman is ready for a discreet pantyliner mere days after hoo-hoo-hooing a human out of her hee-hee-hee.

Yes, ladies, this is what postpartum life looks like.  Baby Phil was born 3 weeks ago.

Not a footballers wife selfie, postpartum 3 weeks

I actually weigh less today than I did before I got pregnant yet I still look like I’m due in a few weeks.

The makeup is still in the cosmetic case.  The roots are showing because I was just too tired to care in my ninth month, even though I knew I’d want photos every day during his first month.

My abdominals haven’t seen each other for months.  Thigh gap? Please.  I’m just glad I can see my feet.  Even if I need a pedicure.

This is what postpartum looks like.

Your boobs will get bigger.  Your eyes will get dark shadows.  Your skin will freak out.

You will wear your maternity clothes home from the hospital.  You will wear elastic waisted pants and your husband’s sweat pants and tank tops without a bra.  You will learn to love prints, because it hides the leaks. You will wear your glasses because, contacts?  Ain’t no one got time for that.  And you can’t sleep in them.

Sleep? Sweet sleep.  Sleep becomes your holy grail and you snatch any chance at it you can find.  Contacts interfere.  Contacts must be eliminated.

You will clean yourself with a plastic bottle and be thankful for it.

even fitness bloggers need postpartum peri bottle

You will wear blankets over your shoulder and babies on your chest.  You will occasionally wear baby pee on your leg. (Pro Mom tip- if you wear baby pee on your leg often, go up a size in diapers.  Problem solved.)

Your bras will have flaps.

This is what normal looks like.

Ha ha ha, not really.  This is what SUPERWOMAN looks like.

This is what it looks like when you grow, nourish, and birth an entire new person.  This is what it looks like when you come together with your husband in love and create a family.

This is what superwoman looks like when she gains 10 pounds of fluid and placenta, 4 pounds of blood, then labors through and loses it all at once.  This is what superwoman looks like when she puts an ice pack between her legs and soldiers on to feed a baby, using up 15% of her daily calories just making food for someone else.

And it’s okay.

It’s okay if you don’t look sexy.

You are a woman of uncommon strength.  You are a woman of infinite worth.  Your man would die for you, and your Savior already has.

You are beautifully and wonderfully made.  No one can nurture your children like you will.  You have the heart, the instincts, and now you have the body for it.

You are a soft place to land, a refuge for body, heart and soul.

You do not have to be sexy twenty four hours a day.  Your worth is not dependent on how well you can attract a man.

I know.  That’s just crazy talk!  But you know what?  We have so much more to offer than sex.  Although your new breasts will probably really rock out that demi-cup  now.

It’s okay to not be perfect, it’s okay to be vulnerable, it’s okay to be real.  Your children, your man- they want the real you.

Be the woman who gets up five times in as many hours and still gently kisses her babies head. Be the woman who puts a fistful of wilty dandelions in a drinking glass, and makes a centerpiece out of it at dinner.

Be the woman who protects her daughter from images of models in their underwear so that she doesn’t feel ugly or shamed by her own humanity.  Be the woman who shows her sons that real, authentic womanhood is more than tanning and toning.

Be the woman who stands proud, scars and sags and stretch marks and all.

Because you know what?  Real women have tiger stripes.

We’ve been stretched and torn and poured out on behalf of our children and we’ve come out on the other side.

We are fierce.  We are strong.  We are tired.  We wear yoga pants because comfort, hello.

We are ultimately feminine, having given ourselves over to the one task that a man can never do.

We are mothers.  Be proud.

baby hands real babies real moms

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I love comments. Tell me what you think!

  • Amanda December 5, 2013, 11:51 pm

    I’m torn on this. Appropriate points, but comparison of a fit woman to the author is not on the same planet. I would like to see some pictures of someone within the same BMI range. Comparing someone who is healthy, active and fit to someone clinically obese is not valid. I am not trying to be hard on the author, nor do I think the situation she is referencing is not worth a solid debate, but the comparisons here are way off. I understand the need to empower the women upset by the original story but comparing apples to watermelons is not the way to progress, it just further separates the skinny from the fat. One story focuses on “be thin and fit, no excuses, blah…” The other focuses on idealizing unhealthy body types as the norm to appease the overweight and obese audience. The real point should be everyone has a different body type, and everyone’s body goes through different changes. After pregnancy, what one woman will experience is going to be completely different than another (possibly toss in some studies about pregnancy affects on a set of identical twins?) This is nothing more than a tool for the ongoing pro-thin vs. pro-overweight/obese debate that gives women issues and concerns in the first place.

    I apologize if my opinion is offensive to anyone, I do not intend it to be. To clarify, I am not sorry for any comment itself. I am sorry that anyone who is offended is dealing with whatever issues of self worth they have and I hope you find some happiness in life eventually.

    Reply
  • Mother Hen December 6, 2013, 5:47 am

    Amanda, you are way off. Milehimama is talking real life here. This is how it is after having one or more children. It is not a function of one’s nonpregnant BMI. My nonpregnant weight is 120 lbs, and she nailed exactly how I felt postpartum, especially from the second child on (8 kids total).

    Reply
  • Jackie December 6, 2013, 2:34 pm

    Well that’s not fair, Mother Hen… the author is talking about real life? Sure- maybe to her but that’s not every mother’s reality. I birthed an absolutely beautiful, healthy, nearly nine pound baby without a single stretch mark. I was below my pre-pregnancy weight within a couple of weeks all without dieting or exercise. Am I not a “real” woman because I have a really great metabolism? Am I not a “real” woman because I was an athlete my entire life and made fitness a priority? Getting my weight back down to pre-pregnancy weight was almost effortless because I had a healthy BMI before getting pregnant along with making healthy food choices for me AND my baby while pregnant. I’d love to see women celebrating motherhood and supporting one another instead of picking on some because they look FANTASTIC after having a baby.

    Reply
  • Sarah D. December 16, 2013, 3:54 pm

    Was that your first child? I was like that, too, after my first. No stretch marks and lost all the weight and then some within a couple weeks. My second child was a totally different story. He was almost 10lbs. I’m 5’2″ and not over weight in the least. That boy stretch me something fierce! The weight came off easily after his birth, but the shape never really came back. Don’t pick on women who don’t look fantastic after giving birth.

    Reply
  • Jessica December 6, 2013, 7:58 am

    There’s always someone making this same comment every time someone tries to point out ANYTHING positive and what is often the normal experience of many. … claiming you’re just defending “health” and everyone else is insecure and rationalizing their lack of self control.

    There is no pro-skinny/pro-overweight debate. No one is pro-overweight. Even people who are overweight. Your position (and all the other people like you on the internet) tries to forbid anyone who is overweight from commenting on the perfect body-obsession of our culture. I agree that it would be more scientific if a naturally thin/medium person would have written this post, but why is this author not allowed to comment on this topic? Because you think she’s fat so she can’t say anything until her weight is in a middle range? This is the problem that the skinny-obsession comes from: not seeing the person as a person first, body second. We do this to ourselves; we do this to others.

    Post pregnancy is a whole different ballgame than regular life weight. Fat takes over some muscle and weighs less so you get more body even if you don’t gain weight. Many, many women (not just a rare few) have trouble getting around (because of pain, not because of laziness/fatness) enough to exercise much in pregnancy, especially after a few pregnancies. And for MANY women, your hormones just SHUT DOWN your metabolism as soon as you pee on the stick. Mine does, though I have several friends, who, through NO willpower or exercise, gain NO new fat, whereas I gain 40 lbs on the dot every time, regardless of LOTS of willpower, and restrained, healthy eating.

    So it isn’t a contest of who is ‘worthy’ to comment on the sickness of this topic. And if an imperfect person does, they are not open season on judgement. And if someone happens to disagree with you, you can’t just pass them off as insecure just so you feel even more self-righteous.

    Reply
  • Milehimama December 6, 2013, 9:20 am

    Wow, you make a lot of assumptions, but the most egregious are that I’m clinical obese (without knowing my height or weight, going off a picture taken at 3 weeks postpartum)

    and, that one must fall into a narrow definition of “looking healthy” in order to express a public opinion on the matter. There wasn’t any “skinny shaming” going on nor really any comparing of different body types. What I AM trying to do is let women know that not snapping back to tight abs and looking like a Victoria’s Secret model in a thong within a month of giving birth is healthy, and normal, and it’s OK.

    I’ll repeat it- it’s OK for women to NOT be sexy. We are more than our BMIs, more than our tans, more than how well a pushup bra can show off our assets.

    You do not have to be sexy to be worthy.

    Which, actually, this post isn’t about weight or skinny or tanned or healthy or unhealthy. It’s about the real, normal postpartum experience and yes, a changed body is a big part of that.

    You actually just made my point, while missing the whole point.

    Reply
  • Laura December 6, 2013, 12:27 am

    Thank you for this. I am a mama of 8 and need reminders that it’s ok to be “fluffy.” Beautiful post.

    Reply
  • Brooklyn December 6, 2013, 9:41 am

    I don’t agree with this at all. I don’t have kids but aaaall my friends do (literally, every single one here) and just about all of them still liked to dress cute right after the baby, they colored their hair, didn’t wear their husbands sweats, started training again as soon as they could but what? They aren’t normal? Because normal is supposed to be not caring? That’s the image you are putting across. My friends who have lost the weight quickly, always dressed to impress, never criticized the friends that didn’t and vice versa. I think the model chick with abs 4 days post labor is crazy too but that’s HER normal. Should she be shamed because that’s how her body recovered from labor? No. She’s genetically gifted. Oh well. Lets move on. Like one of my friends told me, when I questioned why it was easier for some than others to get back to pre-pregnancy normalcy, every woman’s pregnancy is different and cannot be compared to another’s.

    Reply
  • Kristy December 6, 2013, 12:46 pm

    I LOVED this post! Thank you for writing a beautiful, empowering, and factual ode to motherhood. Motherhood isn’t perfect, pristine, and polished. It is beautifully imperfect and messy and only the strong do it well. I am so sorry that some completely missed the point of this well-written essay. The footballer’s wife isn’t posing that way to show how “healthy” she is. If so, it wouldn’t be done in lacy underwear. She is posed that way to show she is still sexual–obviously, appearance is very important to her–of the utmost importance, one could argue. Being a new mom is about being in awe AND sleep-deprived AND focusing on keeping it all together for the entire family. I would even argue that, if you have time to take sexy selfies in your closet (that has a chandelier, no less!) a week after giving birth, chances are you have hired help or a cadre family members and others taking over much of the new mom responsibilities. I’m not saying it can’t be done. I’m just saying someone looks mighty rested while in their undies for having a new baby in the house.
    Kudos on a beatifully and realisticially written piece of truth.

    Reply
  • Brenna December 8, 2013, 4:47 pm

    What a wonderful piece! Thank you so much – I really appreciated it.

    Reply
  • Karen December 13, 2013, 12:23 pm

    This is the first and probably last time I will have heard of this fitness blogger, but I also have trouble buying that the photo is 4 days after giving birth. Maybe, but, like you said, where is the mattress pad? (There ain’t no room in that underwear for more than a tampon, and anyone who has given birth knows how well that would work.) I know nothing about this woman other than the information you have given, but, as a footballer’s wife, with an enormous chandelier in her closet, I imagine her life is vastly removed from “normal”. First of all, her blog focus is fitness. Fabulous! But if your life’s focus is hands on cooking from scratch with real healthy food, keeping a handle on finances, being the main or only caregiver for other children and everything else maintaining a household entails, the first four days after childbirth are far too full of everyday, mundane things to even notice if you have co-ordinated lingerie to pose in, let alone time to try it on. That’s reality. You said that her blog focuses on all the optimal aspects of her life, most blog and social media posts do. Yours focuses on all the challenging aspects and how to improve them. Footballer’s wives, and other minor and major celebrities do not live the same kind of lives that average people do. They can’t. Getting back on the glam-track immediately is probably imperative. Bags of money and “staff”, in-house or not, are mandatory to maintain the status quo and since they are available, it would be foolish not to use them. And the media is there to report immediately on any minor detail that is less than perfection. If the photo is a pre-emptive and accurate representation of her (or anyone else’s) reality, awesome. But it is not even remotely possible for the vast majority of the population. I weighed 106 before my first pregnancy and was able to fit into my pre-pregnancy jeans a week later. But abs and co-ordinated lingerie? It was more like granny panties and smoosh everything in. Sex? (This photo is all about sexuality, nothing about mothering.) The doctor said six weeks. Four of those required the mattress pads, so, umm, no. Real life is a journey, with detours, unmarked roads and lots of bumps, not a flawless performance piece. I prefer your take. And I LOVE your pose, especially the look on your face. Well done!

    Reply
  • Sarah D. December 16, 2013, 4:05 pm

    I just found your blog by accident and totally loved this post!!! Your definitions of “superwoman” are excellent. Every Mom is a superwoman! We aren’t perfect and we don’t always look perfect, but we love our families. =) Thank you for being “real”. Oh, and congratulations on the new little one!!! =)

    Reply
  • Marjorie Conder January 16, 2014, 1:20 pm

    Well done! I love that you give new mothers an uplifting message.

    Reply
  • tracy February 2, 2014, 2:23 pm

    LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS!! I am the momma of 6 going on 7 babies and you totally told my story! my kids call me FLUFFY and my husband still thinks im beautiful with my flabby saggy skin and stretch marks! what a great post!

    Reply
  • Lorin February 2, 2014, 11:06 pm

    Beautiful post! I followed a link over from the MMM forum & read this while I nurse my 4 week old. It’s encouraging to be reminded what the norm is & – emphatically – what it’s not.

    Reply
  • Kimberley March 7, 2014, 10:54 pm

    I know nothing of the fitness blogger but any woman married to a man who would think it’s okay for her to post selfies in her underwear regardless of if or when she had a baby obviously has some issues. My husband would never share me. And I would feel trashed if he thought that was okay. My self worth doesn’t come from turning my body into eye candy for others. And don’t think I couldn’t do it! I am lucky in that my metabolism rocks and after four kids in 6 years I can still get into my skinny jeans (I don’t even have any others) so clearly people who pity this woman are not necessarily defending not being healthy or fit or whatever that comment was about. And the pads and peribottle were hilarious. I don’t think there is a mom in the US who wouldn’t recognize that bottle from heaven!

    Reply
  • Cathleen "The Pregnancy Professor" Keene, RN May 8, 2014, 6:06 pm

    Rock on super mama!

    Reply

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Desperately thrifty mom of 10, sharing my frugal tips, easy shortcuts, recipes, and thoughts on natural living and real food.

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