making peace with a postpartum body {guest post, Danielle}

Please welcome Danielle, a friend who shares an honest glimpse at her readjustment to life, marriage, and body after giving birth two months ago. She writes with gentle candor about a sensitive topic and difficult season that is not often discussed. Please show her some love and encouragement, especially if you've walked this road to the other side.

Since giving birth recently to our first child, Elden, I have faced a broad range of overwhelming feelings and problems associated with becoming a new mom. From altered physical appearance to learning how to balance working full-time, taking care of a baby, and nurturing my marriage, I became trapped in a place of uncertainty.

The stretchmarks wreaked havoc those last seven weeks (and here I was at 33 weeks thinking I had escaped unscathed). Pushing out an ounce-shy-of-nine-pounds baby damaged me in other ways: physical intimacy is presently excruciating and therefore scarce. The uncertainty of my body image and sexual appeal, fatigue from middle of the night feedings, and general stress from balancing work and trying to keep a relatively clean house certainly don't help. 

The nights we fumble because I am unsure, insecure, and tired fill my head with fears: are we losing each other? Will we ever be intimate the way we used to be? The past three weeks I filled my head with concern, asking Jon through sobs if we were heading towards divorce. Above all else? I am angry with God. I find myself questioning Him about my situation: 

We waited until we were married to know each other physically, so why am I being punished? Why are you allowing us to struggle in such a crucial marital area when you see the havoc it is wreaking on our relationship? Why can't You just allow things to go back to how they used to be between us? 

The thing about these postpartum hormones? They consume you. Between my cries, Elden's hours-long colic episodes, and Jon's crazy school/work/stay-at-home Dad schedule, peace is hard to find in our home. Thankfully, I am blessed with a completely loving and patient husband who is my biggest supporter and source of encouragement. 

He never tires of reassuring me that he thinks I'm beautiful. He encourages us to pray together each night over the things that lay heaviest on my heart, including our physical intimacy. His patience and love encouraged me to have some honest conversations with God. Lots of confessions regarding my doubt and accusations while begging for patience. More than anything, praying that Jon and I will never cease communicating and working on our relationship in other ways, such as sacrificing an extra thirty minutes of sleep so that we can just talk about our days and reconnect. 

I began encouraging myself by avoiding derogatory thoughts about my physical appearance. Think of the blessing that resulted from these changes! It doesn't take much beyond that little reminder to change my attitude as I realize how truly blessed I am. 

I'm gradually learning how to be at peace while looking forward with thanksgiving. These struggles will ultimately make our marriage stronger. For now, though, I am learning to have patience and to hope. "For every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven" (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

Danielle, 23, is a new mom to Elden (born August 3), wife to Jon, and blogger at youngnotpowerless.comShe is a biomedical engineer for a small medical device company in Cleveland, Ohio, and enjoys spending weekends working on house projects.

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