Gratitude

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My old dress won’t fit.

7 months after having my baby and still, my dress won’t fit!

I had been drinking the weight loss tea a University student in my estate sold to me.

Been on it for the past two months.

I expected to see changes, she assured me the tea would work magic, promised it would take my body back to its pre pregnancy shape

Yet here I stood, in front of the mirror, staring at the same body- the same ugliness.

My stomach was big, it had the size of a 3months old pregnancy.

There were stretch marks.

Stretchmark’s as lengthy as fingers of spaghetti.

Black and ugly.

Most of the baby weight still hanging heavily on me.

As I stood there, staring at my reflection in the mirror, tears welled up in my eyes.

I hated this new body.

I felt ugly.

Ashamed even.

I used to be a size 12, I used to have a flat stomach, I used to be the belle of the party…

“Baby?” I heard my husband call behind me

I snatched my towel from the bed and hurriedly wrapped it around my body.

“What’s wrong?” He asked as he stepped into the room to where I was.

I sniffed, rubbing the back of my hand across my nose.

“Nothing” I lied, sitting down on the bed.

“Nothing but you are crying?” He was hovering over me. “This is like the third time I am catching you crying for no reason, what exactly has been eating you up?”

Unable to keep the tears in, I busted out crying.

“Ah ahn!” he expressed shock, confusion lining in his eyes.

“My body is ugly” I complained between sobs. “I am fat! stretch marks  everywhere…”

“But baby, you just had a baby na…”

“So what?!” I interrupted, pissed by his remark, “How many women look like this?” I motioned my hands over my body. “Look at Kim Kardashian, Khloe, even many mums on Instagram, they have gotten their body back…”

“But baby you can’t compare yourself to the likes of Kim Kardashian na, those women undergo plastic surgery..”

“How about Nigerian mums, ehn? How about Lilian Esoro, Chioma Chukwuka, even Tuface’s wife, are they not perfect?! Look at me, I’m h-hideous!” I let out a fresh bawl of tears.

“Oh come on!” My husband remarked. He sat down besides me and pulled me into his embrace so that I was weeping against his chest.

He rubbed my back consolingly

“You are not hideous.” He said. “I don’t have a problem with your new body…”

“That is what you men always say” I remarked, refusing to be bought over.

“I mean it. You brought life into the world, an entire human being. You have to understand that it took your body nine months to get to what it is now, and it will need as much time to revert”

I sobbed on

“It’s okay baby, we’ll get you in a gym, this issue is too small for you to be crying..”

The cry of our baby waking up from sleep wailed through

I got up, swept a hand across my cheek, and walked to her crib

I picked her up and dandled her in my arms.

My husband got up, patted my back before walking out of the room.

_______

Self-love

I was scrolling through Instagram like I usually do when I came across that word. This was about one week after my outburst in my bedroom. My husband was yet to register me in a gym, we wanted to get a nanny before I made that transition.

So as I laid in my bed, with my baby playing on the same bed with her toys, I came across this post about self-love. It was posted by a mother like myself, she only recently had her baby and was dealing with the same body issues like I was.

She was brave enough to post a photo of herself in a bra top and jeans, exposing her tummy which had as much stretch marks as mine. Under the post, she talked about self-love, how she made the decision to love herself and embrace all of her flaws as they were nothing but a badge of her incredible journey through motherhood.

She got over 100 comments on that post, most of which were written by new mums who were struggling with their body image and how to be confident in their skin, just like I was.

That post struck a cord in my heart, and the comments just blended everything in.

I viewed the profile of most of the mum’s who were commenting, I wanted to see what they looked like. While some had bounced back to having a beautiful figure, others still had the weight on, but choose to slay in their new bodies.

I felt like I wasn’t alone.

For months after my baby, I had tormented myself, refusing to take photos and not wanting to go out either. But here were women, just like me who were living in their truth.

I wish I can say that my perception of my body never deflated after that post.

While I was encouraged, every time I looked at myself in the mirror and worst, when my husband wanted to make love to me, I would cringe.

My demons were still very much alive inside of me.

————

We found a nanny in the month that followed.

She was a middle aged woman who used to work in an orphanage.

I entrusted the care of my daughter into her hands and started to go to a gym close to my house, three times in a week.

The first day I went to the gym, I worked out vigorously, against the advice of the trainer who warned me to take things easy as it was only my first time. He must have had good reason for that advice because the next morning, I could not feel my legs. I laid in bed, unable to move my body without feeling excruciating pains.

Thank God for my nanny, my daughter was well taken care of.

My husband came back from work to find me in the same position he had left me earlier that morning

“Ah baby!” he exclaimed as he stepped through the door.

“Welcome” I muttered.

“You are still lying down?” he sounded amused.

I dragged down the corners of my lips, suppressing a smile

“This is serious o” he laughed this time. “Madam I must lose weight”

“Baby leave me jor!”

He laughed. “Don’t worry, let me shower, I will come and massage you, you hear?”

“Thank you”

“Madam weight watcher!” he teased, unbuttoning his sleeves.

————–

My gym instructor put me on a diet of protein foods. I tried to stick to it as much as I could.

I kept at the scale, desperate to notice changes.

———

The weight started to fall off

Even in my tummy area.

I was happy, I felt encouraged.

Three months passed now.

There were times I wanted to quit, cheat on my diet, but my husband was a constant supporter, encouraging me through each of those days.

——–

I went from 110kg to weighing 75kg.

My old clothes started to fit again.

My confidence started to come back to me.

I began to feel good about my weight, dress up, pose for photos.

But, no matter the amount of weight I lost, the stretchmark’s remained unbothered, not to mention my not so firm breast.

And I didn’t like that at all.

I purchased creams from cream makers, creams that promised to fade away the stretchmark’s, creams that swore to add volume to my breast.

None of it worked. If anything, the stretch mark cream worsened some of my stretchmark’s.

I felt bad.

I though vividly about what to do.

I had a good figure now, but how about the scars on my stomach and breasts?

I began to have sleepless nights over the issue.

I wanted to have a perfect body, why couldn’t I have the perfect body?

“Is it not me that is seeing the body?” my husband remarked one Sunday after lunch as I was complaining to him in the sitting room. “Or is there another man who is seeing it?”

“I just want it to disappear” I persuaded.

“You are worrying yourself over nothing. You need to learn to accept your body the way that it is. Some of these scars will not go away, and you have to find a way to be okay with that”

He was right. The scars didn’t go away. Some started to fade but they still remained.

I had to will myself to be okay with my flaws. I had to teach myself to love myself, to embrace who I was.

But I was struggling to achieve this

Until one day when I accompanied my husband to the hospital to visit his dying Aunt. The woman had been battling with leukemia and you could just tell by looking at her that she didn’t have much time left to live.

As I sat there with my husband, watching her in tremendous pain, I thanked God for my life.

And she wasn’t the only one.

There were patients being fed through drips, some had lost a leg, an arm. There was a woman that had her legs held up on stirrups with a small fan positioned inbetween her thighs, my body cringed.

A man had just lost an eye, and a child whose legs were amputated because of a growing infection.

Those were people with real problems, people who would give anything to have my stretch marks and thin breasts over spending one more second in a hospital bed.

My heart was full.

I begged God to forgive me for complaining, to have mercy on me for letting myself worry and grumble over irrelevant things.

When I got home that day, I dropped to my knees, heart full. I cried and thanked God for the life he had given me.

And I promised myself never to lose sleep over my imperfections anymore.

I was going to love myself, just the way that I was.

THE END.

WRITTEN BY OGBUGOH TERUNDU JOY.

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