Your body has birthed a baby, and all you see is a belly that resembles Jell-O, stretch marks that stretch all over your skin, hair that’s dry and thinning, breasts that sag and droop. All you see is exhaustion in your eyes, the darkness, the bags clear-cut evidence.

You feel bad about your postpartum body. But then you feel guilty for hyper-focusing on something so “vain” and “superficial.” You call yourself shallow and foolish and ridiculous. After all, you made a miracle. After all, you have more important things to think about.

Your negative feelings about your body are followed by more negative feelings about yourself. Your inner critic is having a field day.

Your body has birthed a baby, and all you see are wrinkles on your forehead, gray strands that seem to multiply every day, too many marks and blemishes, hips and thighs that don’t feel like your own.

All you see is not what you want.

Your body has birthed a baby. A baby who lights up your eyes, and lights up your soul. A baby who has her own personality and funny quirks. A beautiful smile. The best laugh. A baby who does incredible things every day.

All you see and feel is love.

You can dislike your body, and you can be grateful. Feelings are like that sometimes. Complicated. Whatever you feel, try to accept it. Try not to judge yourself. Do think about the miracle you performed. You grew a babyYou grew a baby. Relish in that. Marvel at it. Cherish it. Because it is a magnificent, mind-blowing miracle.

Do seek out stunning pieces of writing that remind you of this astonishing fact. Do avoid and reject magazines and media that make you feel terrible, that shame your stretch marks and soft parts and say you need to work out harder and oh, there’s something wrong with you because you haven’t “bounced back.” And do acknowledge that on some days you still don’t feel great. On some days you still dislike your body. On some days every part feels foreign or uncomfortable.

You can hold disparate feelings. You can hold disparate thoughts. The kindest thing we can do for ourselves is to listen, to understand, to acknowledge the divide, the contradiction.

Whatever arises, be a witness to your thoughts and feelings. Whatever arises, recognize your struggle. Whatever arises, be there. For yourself. And when you’re ready, reconnect.

Photo by Jordan Whitt.