It's Time To Confess again...

Have you ever looked into the mirror and wondered where you went?  Almost like a stranger was staring back at you.  

That was me this morning. I found a tired eyed mum looking back at me in need of finding sleep.  

Not a few extra minutes, not a little nap or sleep in, nop, more like a month or year.  Ohhhhh imagine that?  

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I’ve roughly calculated that since beginning my postpartum journey six years ago, I’ve had maybe 100 nights (and that’s being extremely generous) of unbroken nights sleep!   That is 100 nights out of the last 2190 nights. 

So that tired eyed mum that looks back at me in the mirror in mornings, with sometimes partial panda eyes from leftover mascara from the day before, is actually doing incredible well.  

I am beautiful, I am strong, I am alive, I am a mother and I am worthy of value.

I’m not sure about you but ever since having my three beautiful boys my body looks different, even feels different.  Firstly there’s the extra padding and the spider veins on my thighs that I swore only my mother would ever have (love you mum).  Then there’s the pooch that as I squat down folds over my tights like an overfilled muffin tin reminding me things aren’t like they used to be.  We can’t forget about the stretch marks that are like a beacon, beckoning your attention to the prime real estate that once hosted my three boys leaving behind wrinkly overstretched skin.  Almost feeling like a balloon that got filled with air and then released at full speed leaving it overstretched and a little saggy. 

Yet I am beautiful, I am strong, I am alive, I am a mother and I am worthy of value.

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Well with every pregnancy and birth I’ve found that the postpartum journey has been more challenging to ‘bounce back’ as society calls it.  Does that make me less of a personal trainer?

As a personal trainer I wanted to “bounce back” but I felt even more so that I needed to bounce back.  Have you ever felt like everyone was watching you, waiting to see how you handled it?

I mean what kind of personal trainer are you if you’re not in shape and a walking billboard to show everyone that you know what you’re doing.  Right?????  My younger self, before babies would have thought this way!

Photo:  Naomi van Jaarsveld aka "me" 2013 before starting my journey to become a mum.

Even now at 12 months postpartum I catch myself looking at my body in the mirror second guessing if my body is acceptable.  Surely I'm not alone.  

PHOTO: Me

Has the way your body looked or felt caused you to stay home and try and “work it out” on your own instead of attending a gym or exercise group?  Have you felt you’re not in shape enough, fit enough or strong enough to get back into the gym? 

The crazy thing is the reason why people go to the gym is to get themselves healthy, stronger and in shape.  So how is it that the very thing that can help us achieve that goal is the place we are afraid of attending.  Or is it only me?

Time to confess...Do you know it took me a full year to attend my first “No Excuses Mums” exercise group at our local park, even though I’d been a member online for over a year.  I was so afraid of being judged for not being in good enough shape after my baby.  Though it took courage to go along, I’m so glad I did!  Little did I know when I turned up after my second baby was born, that I had been missing out on a bunch of kind hearted, encouraging, understanding and uplifting women that wanted each of us to succeed.  There was no competition, just comradery.  

Time to confess...Do you know I didn’t attend my gym for a long time after this past pregnancy because I was so embarrassed that I wasn’t “in shape” enough or progressed enough on my postpartum journey.  I was almost thankful for our covid lockdown.  Thankful that maybe I could get my act together (you know slim down, tone up, flat tummy, fitness back up, sculptured arms...you know just a few things lol).  All because I thought I hadn’t “bounced back” as I was meant to.  

Meant to? Now if that isn't a loaded comment, I don’t know what is. 

PHOTO: Kids helping encourage mummy to get stronger during COVID-19 lockdown.

But where do these ideas come from?  Who decided what the ideal postpartum journey is meant to be? 

Though the internet can be such an empowering tool, it can also be such a destructive tool.

When our reality doesn’t line up with what we are viewing on social media we can start to second guess if we’re doing well enough.  We can almost nullify our wins, our progress, our journey because it doesn't look like someone else's.

Ok.  Time to speak some truth in love mummas, (just like my hubby had to do for me)…. If you are following someone on social media that leaves you feeling less than as a woman or mother, then stop following them!  Please!  You will be far better off.

I don’t know about you but none of my pregnancies, birth experiences or postpartum journeys were what I was expecting.  Moments caught on camera don't always reveal the reality of what someone is going through.  

PHOTO: Cute belly shot of my pregnant belly with Oscar (number 2).   REALITY: My sister in law painted my belly to distract me while in labour.  We only just got it finished before I needed to rush off to see my midwife to have Oscar. 

PHOTO: This is me pregnant with Jesse, and my amazing mum. REALITY: After a week of on and off labour, doing everything to get him out, I was exhausted and over it, feeling guilty for wasting peoples time when labour didn't progress.  My mum gave me perspective, love and grace.

PHOTO: Peaceful moment with Jesse (number 3).  REALITY: I'm in incredible discomfort from my 2nd VBAC with over 2 hours of stitching to try put me back together again AND exhausted from next to no sleep.

From an emergency c-section to VBAC's accompanied with horrendous perineal tears that needed hours of stitching and minor prolapses.  A miscarriage that left me in a vulnerable and broken place.  From carpal tunnel (which doesn’t seem like much but for a personal trainer who loved all things burpees, press up and explosive movements then that’s a lot of frustration & pain), and not to mention learning how the heck this how motherhood thing works while having a strong conviction that I was probably stuffing my kids up.  Lol 

It sounds like carnage right.  Yeah but it has been my carnage and my journey.  And don’t get me wrong there has been more joy than there has been pain, being a mother is one of the greatest honours of my life. 

PHOTO: Me and my amazing three boys.  REALITY - First day with my wonderful hubby back at work.   30 minutes before this shot I was a pretty stressed out mumma trying to get all three boys out the door before Jesse's nap is due with all the right gear so the boys can ride their bikes at BMX track.  


I wouldn’t change it for anything...although….heheheh.  But I’ve walked the highs and the lows.  From the sweetest snuggles with my little people to the desperate desire to escape and run away (thanks sis for talking me off that cliff lol).   From the sleepless nights to the soul warming giggles.  I’ve got the scars, the wrinkly skin, the reshaped undercarriage - yip I used the word undercarriage but you know what i’m talking about! Lol  

Yet I am beautiful, I am strong, I am alive, I am a mother and I am worthy of value.

PHOTO: Me with my three boys....Daddy behind camera. - Thanks babe! 


The reality is no one knows your journey and what has led you to this point? 

Everyone's journey is special and deserves respect, honour and a place to just be.

If we are to walk this journey well, then we need to champion each other, warts and all.  Because motherhood needs a sisterhood that believes that: 

We are all beautiful, we are strong, we are alive, we are mothers and we are worthy of value.


with love

Naomi


 

Naomi van Jaarsveld

About the author


Hi I'm Naomi, Founder of Birthmark Sisterhood. I'm a wife to an awesome husband and mum to three energy filled boys

As a qualified personal trainer with over 10 years experience I've journeyed with people of all different walks of life and helped them achieve their health and fitness goals. I'm a certified REHAB trainer and Pre & Postnatal Specialist.

I have experienced both an emergency c-section and two VBACs, a miscarriage, minor prolapse, horrible perineal tears that took hours to stitch (yikes), reflux/collic bubs, back injuries, knee injures and the list goes on. I never thought I'd be grateful for these however the reality is each one of these journeys I've had to walk (some over months, some over years) - has made me a far more effective, strategic and compassionate personal trainer. I'm on a mission to lift the level of postnatal care for woman and especially for c-section mummas!

I believe every woman deserves to have a healed, restored and strong body from the inside out! I'm passionate about taking the guesswork out of their recovery so they can enhance their recovery and get on with living their best life!
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