It is the time of year when my Facebook ads and e-mail are bombarded with “weight loss tips”. Advertisers assume that because I am a woman of a certain age, I must be dissatisfied with my body. If only they knew….
As a woman who struggled through the death of my sons and infertility challenges, my body shows the changes of five pregnancies in five years. I gained 55 pounds with the twins and the stretch marks, scars and extra skin never went away. Especially while my second and third pregnancies failed, the tiger stripes were a constant reminder of my body’s failure to keep my babies alive. I didn’t hate my body because I didn’t look good in a bikini or because my skin was a little pudgier than before. I hated my body because I blamed it and myself for their death. Somehow, in some way, my body had let me down, let my sons down, when I needed it the most. I am a feminist. I firmly believe that my value as a person goes beyond my body, my looks and my ability to have children. Yet I still felt trapped by my thinking that I was worthless, or worth less, because I could not have a baby. Every morning as I got dressed I would stare at my tiger stripes, my twin skin, and loathe my body. I was a failure as a woman because I could not have a baby.
A new year is a time of new resolutions, which is why I am seeing all those ads for weight loss. Here are my body resolutions for the year:
- My body does not represent who I am. I am greater than the sum of my parts.
- My ability to bear children (or not!) does not give me worth as a person. I have value either way.
- My body is not perfect and never will be. My tiger stripes and twin skin make me fierce and proud. I am a survivor. I can face any challenge. You can see it in my skin.
- I will remind myself every day: My sons’ death was not my fault.
This was originally posted January 2014
Amanda Ross-White is the proud mother of four beautiful children, including her twin boys Nate and Sam, who were stillborn in 2007. She is eternally grateful to watch her rainbow children, daughter Rebecca and son Alex, grow around her. She is also the author of Joy at the End of the Rainbow: A Guide to Pregnancy After a Loss, which won second place in the American Journal of Nursing’s Book of the Year Awards (Consumer Health).