Post-Partum Phantoms and Baby Fat

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 It's really strange to me that I am 30 and have already accomplished so many of my childhood hopes. I have a a beautiful family, a husband worth more than his weight in gold, an incredible church family, wonderful friends, a lovely home, and a sometimes wonderful dog. I've had a very blessed 8-year career in graphic and video design and am now transitioning to staying home with my three wonderful, little raptor-boys. In nearly every way my life is a picture of God's extravagance, grace upon grace. In the past four months, God has literally answered and exceeded every prayer request for our family I've made.  And yet... This is such the Jenny condition. I'm starving in the desert and beg for food. He provides mana and almost immediately I'm dissatisfied. "Bind my wandering heart to thee" indeed!  So it's week six after giving birth to my perfect, beautiful Ezra and I'm still  a flickering gray of emotions. It was much easier to be healthy with food and my body when I was growing a small human inside me. Now I wake up, see my messy hair and clinging pregnancy fat and feel waves of disgust. It's not that I thought I would be the same weight as before E; it's just that I've never gained this much weight in pregnancy before. 

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I was so obsessed with staying skinny with Jude, I only gained a sickly 15 pounds throughout the pregnancy. With Noah, I added 25 pounds. Both times, though, I lost all of the baby fat nearly instantly. Within two months, I was wearing all of my old things and feeling relatively better about my body. I didn't realize my 35 pound gain with Ezra would behave differently. 

It does though. Nothing fits right and breastfeeding only complicates matters. I can't really even consider "dieting" when I'm still in the early stages of solidifying my milk production. And gigantic milk-boobs overflow ALL of my old shirts and dresses, not to mention my soft sprawling belly. Pregnancy clothes, though, look awkward and dumpy. This would have thrown me into a dangerous eating disorder spiral three or four years ago. Now it just makes me feel a bit ugly and tired. I don't want my body to ever be about me; who cares what I look like? It seriously has no eternal value to wear size zero or have an "ideal" weight. I'm pulling from Ecclesiastes' and labeling the entire pursuit utterly meaningless.

So why even write this if I know clothes and body size are tiny, insignificant specks in a profoundly important life designed to pursue the Lord? I guess it's because all of this---the exhaustion, the body image, the stubborn weight---support my depressive feelings of being 1) worthless and 2) incapable of being the mother or wife God designed. My perfectionist, sinful heart whispers my inadequacy all day long (even if I ignore and reject it's conversation over and over again). 

It's so annoying to believe truth and still be stuck on a mental attack loop of lies. But they are lies... They are post-partum phantoms aimed at robbing me of energy and joy when I need both the most. This is a season in which I should be celebrating this perfect new life that I get to feed and care for, not bemoaning my inability to fit into last summer's shorts. Jesus, I believe. Help my unbelief!

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Jenny Smith

3705 Oceanview Drive, Denton, TX, 76208