Last week my Weight Watcher’s Leader talked to us about writing a love letter to our most hated body part. She encouraged us to do so, saying that it will help us to let go of negativity and free us to go forward. Skeptically, as I frequently agree to do most things, I agreed to write the letter. To my amazement, the moment it was finished, I felt purged of some secret rock that had been sitting quietly in some dark corner in the pit of my stomach. I do feel more free. And while this is a deeply personal letter, and I am putting it on the great wide open of a conflicted internet, I will do so with abandon. It actually made me appreciate my stomach in a way that only someone in the middle of the ocean can appreciate a life preserver. While this letter may not help my weekly weigh in, there is something to be said of letting go of emotional weight as well. So, here’s to all of us, may we let go of whatever holds us back, and have the courage to grab the hand of what will move us forward. My letter follows:
I have taken you for granted for so long, that I feel unsure of where to start. I will attempt to use my words to give you the appreciation that you deserve. After all, love and gratitude walk hand in hand, where you find one, you will most certainly find the other. So, let’s begin.
Thank you for carrying my five beautiful babies for the first long months of their time on this earth. You used all of your strength to grow, stretch yourself, and protect what matters to me most. Two of my most meaningful memories happened because of you, and literally could not have happened without you.
First, when I was three months pregnant with my oldest child, it was you who saved his life. I remember the accident clearly. The feeling of being pushed, in an SUV, sideways across four lanes of traffic and over a curb. I remember how even before the crash I wrapped my arms around my middle and begged for God to save my baby, even as I saw the car speeding towards me. I remember the incredibly loud silence that filled the space, how everything was in slow motion, but still happened so incredibly fast. I was awake and watching as a fireman named Kelly used the Jaws of Life to cut me out, then asked me questions and told me to stay with him, and the whole time the only thing I could say was, “I’m pregnant.” I remember the neck brace, the stretcher, and the ambulance ride; the looks that the paramedics exchanged over my head. I remember the intern coming in to tell me that I had ruptured my placenta and that my son would be lost, then things going hazy as I went into shock. But then, I remember hope. It came bursting like the sun into the darkened room where they performed a “just to be sure” ultrasound. How the technician left and the doctor came in. I remember how he said that he didn’t know how, but that I was still pregnant. My baby was still alive, and that it must have been the cushioning of my large stomach that absorbed the blow and allowed him to survive. That was the first time that I wept out of gratitude for you.
Almost four years later, I was recovering from the surgery that had delivered my twins. Sitting in the shower, I noticed how loose and empty my middle looked. It was there my husband found me, crying. I was too weak to wash my exhausted body, shaking from medicine and major surgery. It was then that my husband took the coarse white washcloth that was hanging limply from my hand. I felt like a self-conscious baby, weeping at the tender way he took care of me. I watched through tear-blurred eyes as this man’s clothes changed from dry to sopping, saw how this didn’t seem to affect his mothering of me. As I sat there, feeling the first sneaking tendrils of postpartum depression, I said aloud that my stomach was no longer good for anything. It was then that he corrected me, my thin, toned husband spoke the truth about you. He reminded me that you had given us three beautiful babies. He told me that you were beautiful and that he loved every part of you. Again, I was overwhelmed. This time, by what you had done, and by the heart of this man that I married.
Since then you have ushered two more children safely into this world. You have served as my babies first home. You have shown me the truest of hearts. You have revealed the vanity and shallowness of others. But most importantly, you have remained mine. I am so sorry that it has taken me this long to appreciate you, but I do. My eyes are open, and I finally see your beauty.