From Barren to Bikini Babe
I’ve never felt such a compelling energy of excitement and joy as when I knew I had babies on the way. New life. NEW LIFE! New life formed from a love and a lust that I was so lucky to have shared with my partner. When you become a mother your heart opens to the purest form of love that exists in the universe. However, at the same time, when you become a mother you become vulnerable, open to the possibility of the greatest pain imaginable and this is true far before your children are ever born.
I have never cried so hard as when I lost my baby. So hard. Guttural and raw and broken. It’s an endless weeping that has echoed in every beat of my heart since that day 4 years ago. I clutched my knees and laid barren in the darkest part of my life. And when I dried my tears and finally came out into the light of the world, the darkness came along and followed me around as I recovered.
Alone and lost and filled with anger; there is so much to be mad about in the days that follow any kind of loss, but a loss in which you feel your body is the one who failed, who do you have to hate but yourself? Again and again and again. My body failed my babies. My body failed me.
“It wasn’t meant to be. Move forward,” they said. And I did my best to do so. Again and again and again.
When you struggle to get pregnant, each cycle is a lifetime of emotion, too often ending in the familiar depths of disappointment and brokenness. I was fortunate in that my reluctant journey with infertility lasted just over two years long which pales in comparison to the arduous bout that other families have endured. In the end it was blocked fallopian tubes that had prevented fertilization. Tubes likely blocked from the miscarriage itself—as if salt could ever sit more readily in a wound.
But after all that, I was at last with child.
The pregnancy was riddled with hyperemisis gravidarum and insulin dependent gestational diabetes. But I didn’t care. I learned to throw up in a cup while driving and overcame my fear of needles. New life was gifted to me and I was extremely grateful.
And in the end, (or beginning), we were blessed with a beautiful and wild little boy. Just like that it was over, and things were beginning anew.
But I found that I still hated my body. As much as I had the opportunity to be “over it,” I just wasn’t. A deep resentment continued towards my physical form despite the happy outcome.
When you hate your body, you don’t treat it very well. You don’t nourish it or strengthen it or more importantly, send it positive messages. It’s a pitiful place to be, really. Add to that baby weight and it’s the suckiest thing ever. There’s just no eloquent way to put it.
But I was trying.
It’s funny how the promise of self-love is always just a few pounds away. Along with that self-care we all very much need. We tell ourselves that if we lose x-amount of weight, we will be deserving of a day at a hair salon or a flattering outfit. And in the same breath, we punish ourselves, we withhold. “No beach days until skinny!” was a big one for me.
So my roots grew out, my clothes went rugged and my tan faded. I further disliked what I saw in the mirror and in the process what I felt within myself. Again and again and again.
But I discovered a little secret.
Without losing a single inch, a single pound, I grew to love myself immensely and was satisfied with what I witnessed in reflection... by simply deciding I’m worthy.
Worthy of a fresh ‘do, a flattering bikini and a beach day, in the sun, with my beautiful blessings. They deserved it, as did I.
Self love grows so readily from a planted seed. Like a wild flower my happiness blossomed and caught on to all of my daily movements. How I treated myself improved and in turn, my physical and emotional health increased. Once I decided that I was worthy of being and feeling beautiful and sexy and comfortable in my own skin, I lost weight easier. Once I saw myself as pretty-enough, I carried myself as such and others responded to me as more appealing. Once people found me appealing, I felt more appealing.
I've devoted many of my writings to this very subject. And as the vines of growth stretch out in the sun I've become somewhat of a role model, having been featured for designer swimlines and various swimwear retailers and even a media outlet. It's incredibly flattering and humbling at the same time. People have reached out and thanked me for boldly sharing my body and my heart. I've watched women step into the loving light of their own self-perception and embraced their bodies, finding a positive change in the process. But possibly the most important individuals that I could inspire are my children, nieces and nephews. They now see me love myself and hopefully they know it's okay to love themselves through all the physical changes they may encounter as they enter adolescence. It isn’t boastful or conceited, because everyone is worthy of appreciating their self worth.
I look at the woman in the pictures and at times I feel disconnected from her. She is beautiful and bold. She is flawed but happy. Sometimes I even think she's a total babe. Yet the camera can't capture what the mirror often does: the darkness. It’s still there. Like the thread that runs through me; a permanent and essential stitch in my soul. A part of me will always live in that space, and I’ve come to terms with that. I’ve accepted that it was simply meant to be. My baby was meant to come and meant to go. Perhaps it was to launch myself and my family this new direction. I will never know. I do know that while my body may have failed me but my body did its best, as did I.
And my body still deserves love.
As do I.
As do you.
Written by Kelly Estrella