belly buttons, baby girls, and body confidence

My belly wasn't the same after this. I'm learning to love it anyway.
My belly wasn’t the same after this. I’m learning to love it anyway.

In response to some internet body-shaming, some other folks have declared this to be #BodyConfidenceWeek. And since Owning Your Awesome is kind of my wheelhouse, I figured I’d share a little body confidence here.

To talk about the confidence, though, I have to first say: carrying twins to 35 weeks and 6 lbs each, through some 55 lbs of weight gain and loss has changed my body. I still remember feeling the fiery sensation of my abs literally ripping apart, and they stayed that way. My belly button never went back in. My skin was stretched past its capacity to snap back all the way. These are not complaints, really, just realities. I made two people inside this body, and even though it almost killed me, I survived, and those little people are more than worth it.

In fact, they are what give me confidence, both because of the obvious love and delight they take in their bodies and mine, but because I want to protect them from messages that would have them do anything but love and marvel at the miracles of their bodies, and to do that, I have to show them how to love themselves by modeling self-love.

Right now, they’re obsessed with pointing out and naming body parts, but particularly bellies and belly buttons. I kiss their bellies when I change their diapers. “Belly belly belly,” I say as I tickle them and blow raspberries. They’re preoccupied with the part of me that was most changed by their entry into the world. When I’m sitting near them, they lift my shirt playfully. “Belly!” I say. Giggling, their little fingers point out my still-outie belly button. Softly, they tickle my stretched-out skin with their pudgy, sweet, dimpled hands. And in those moments, I don’t feel insecure. I don’t feel ashamed. I laugh. I smile. “You found my belly button!” I say. “Where’s your belly button?” They lift their shirts and stick out their little toddler tummies. They grin as they show me their belly buttons. All I see when I look at them are the perfect, wonderful ones I love. I know that’s what they see when they look at me too. In those moments, we love our bodies together. And that love is a gift that they give me, bigger than anything their gestation and birth did to my flesh.

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