“Mommyrexia” and the value of motherhood

I am nearing the end of my second pregnancy and the nerves are starting to set in about the strangest things.

Of course, I’m nervous about having a second child. Having one already shook my life up quite a bit. What will two do? I’m nervous about lack of sleep again and being good enough and all of those other things moms, even not-so-new moms, worry about.

I’m also worried about the stupid ads that are going to start showing up on my Facebook and other social media accounts. Silly, right? It’s just an ad! But, honestly, I’m scared to see them again.

I don’t get how they knew the first time, but they sure knew when my son was born. It happened so quickly. Suddenly I was bombarded with ads about losing weight and getting my pre-baby body back. The onslaught was astounding in its intensity and ferocity. You would have thought I was in some sort of postpartum Hunger Games…that I was supposed to disappear into some arena for 6 weeks and emerge effortlessly and flawlessly victorious in a body that had never been touched by pregnancy or motherhood.

It was awful. I felt like I was being told that actually being a mother, ie nursing my son, holding him, letting my body heal, doing tummy time, etc., was worthless. The only thing that was supposed to matter was my body and if everyone else thought I was sexy. It’s hard thing to hear when I was already feeling so scared and unworthy of the job of being a mom.

Mommyrexia is a term that gets thrown around, and I’m not a big fan of it because it delegitimizes the very real struggles of those with eating disorders and the very real struggles of new moms. It makes “losing the baby weight” something about vanity.

However, the term Mommyrexia does point out that there is no actual media value in being the mother of an infant. The value is placed on your ability to distance yourself from that infant by having a body that shows no signs he was ever there. It’s sick, really.

Being a mom is really hard. It’s scary and isolating and emotional. It’s totally worth it, but like most worthwhile things, it pushed me into a world I had no idea existed. It was a world I had always wanted to live in but I felt ill-equipped and unworthy to be there.

It would have been nice, when I was alone, lost in all those fun postpartum thoughts, to see the outside world telling me how important my work was. It would have been nice to see in writing that this new world of motherhood was valuable; that feeding my son and bonding with him were more important than a number on a scale.

That’s not to say I didn’t have support. My husband and family were amazing. They helped me figure out how to be the mom I’ve always wanted to be. I valued being a mom and they valued what I was doing as a mother.

As I come to the end of this second pregnancy, I am even more grateful for the support I had. It would have been easy to buy into the world of Mommyrexia and just focus on losing weight. The world of motherhood is difficult in unimaginable ways. I don’t want to see the ads again; not because I believe them but because I just don’t want the negativity around me. I don’t want the media telling me that motherhood is worthless or that my insecurities are fair game for their marketers.

I just want to be able to love my new son and my first born and my husband in peace.



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