I love you. That should be the first thing I say. Not condescendingly, not because some people have no legs and so I need to love mine, not because saying it is the first step to making it true. I honestly love you, and I want to make sure you know.
We have been up and down and all around, you and I. There have been surgeries to tweak certain things: removing tonsils, fixing up kidneys, tubes in ears. You’ve carried me around the world, on planes, trains, boats, and bikes. I have fueled you mindlessly and with great thought. I’ve pumped you full of veggies, fish, chips, oatmeal sandwich cookies, sugar, alcohol, and cigarettes. I’ve listened carefully and completely ignored signals you’ve sent me. You have let me sing loud, act on stage, run away from home, hide under the bed, walk for hunger, feel good about myself, love my husband, feed my children, hug my sisters. You’ve done a lot of work.
You’ve been lots of different sizes and shapes. Sometimes you were bigger than the other bodies, softer in certain places, and sometimes people laughed. Sometimes you shrank down, reacting to healthy eating and lots of movement and people were proud, said “Good job!” and I loved it, loved YOU. Sometimes you were exhausted from all my rebellious games, and had a scratchy sore throat from the cigarettes and coffee that I liked, and a little embarrassed of the silly first tattoo on my ankle that I got BECAUSE I COULD HAVE ONE, SO THERE and it was just…silly. You were patient until I covered it with the tattoo that’s there now, the one of books that is a little more our style. At each stage, I was happy in you. Sometimes I didn’t realize it, but I always was.
And then you started doing the classically mind-blowing stuff- doubling, tripling, quadrupling cells and creating a zygote and then a fetus and then a baby. Stretching and expanding and making room for an entire other life, funneling anything I gave you into special food made especially for him, giving him everything he needed until it was time to expel him and send him soaring into the world. Making food to keep him going once he was out of the womb. Healing up, shrinking the uterus and making the bleeding stop and the pain go away. And then, just a few months later, doing the whole thing over again. That is crazy. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
There are times I get frustrated because one of my breasts is so much bigger than the other, because any weight I gain goes directly to the stomach, because every second that I get older it gets that much harder to keep my figure under control. And I look at other people with flat tummies and large round breasts and for a second I think, “It would be so much better to have a body like that.” It is, sadly, very normal to think thoughts like that. I’m sorry. Because I bet those girls didn’t have to push only three times in order to get both babies into the world. I bet those girls don’t have these killer collarbones that make v-neck shirts look so classy and awesome. I bet those girls don’t have the same cute nose and pretty eyes that make me feel so lovely. The grass is always greener, but body, I know I’m lucky that you’re mine.
I know that we’re a little tired right now. We’re carrying more weight than we ever have, and breastfeeding successfully for the first time, and have more responsibility that we ever thought we would at 27. I promise to listen more closely when you ask for one less cup of coffee and one more glass of water. I promise not to skip my vitamin OR MY BIRTH CONTROL, body. Here is to more greens and new jeans. We need the energy to run after those boys we made. I’m noticing that they’re not very good at holding still. And who are we kidding, neither are we. I need to eat well, drink water, celebrate each treat, walk a lot, dance a bit, and dress you up in some nice clothes, because we have a lot ahead of us. Thanks for getting me here, sweet body. You look good.