As a child, I didn’t have very good coordination. I couldn’t do ballet. I was never a coordinated dancer.
I was an accident prone kid, with a mother who believed in “don’t pick her up when she falls, she needs to build resilience, don’t coddle her” as she has advised me with both my children. (Which I ignored and hugged my crying children or at least attended to them to ask “are you ok?”)
I was forever with cuts and bruises. I was the child who broke a bone before I was out my baby walker. I got the stitches in my head in several places. I got the mega rashes, suffered regular migraines from an early age, smells/food were difficult and I have hypermobily. I remember getting stuck in my clothes a lot and I was claustrophobic.
On one of my frequent visits to A&E there was a question of neglect, that my mother was furious over. It was dismissed.
I don’t remember my sister having much of any of that. She was fun! More shy, quiet, submissive than me. Fearful of people even. Except with me. She stood up to me a lot. I was the reason she was shamed by a teacher for shouting out in class. Shouting “No!” at me for bugging her.
She punched me in the face once when we were fighting over the swing in our back yard. My nose bled, it was some punch. She was applauded for standing up to me. I deserved it. I always deserved it when I got hit by people.
I was more defiant. She didn’t need to be. I challenged enough for both of us. She’d agree with my challenges and “I’d lead her astray.” I don’t know why I was like that.
I felt better when my sister was around me. I behaved better. I know I embarrassed her and bugged her. I embarrassed myself a lot.
She was very different to me, she hated me at times but was my best friend all the same. The best friend that couldn’t escape me, even if she wanted to. We were bound by blood. Twins.
We fought a lot from a young age. I apparently “bullied” her when I was really young. Biting, hurting her and being nasty. I remember being the one who always got in trouble. She was the good one.
I received a returned bite from my mother at the top of the stairs outside my bedroom when I was very young. It bruised. It was a real hard, adult bite. Done in anger. I didn’t like inflicted pain by the person who was my protector, whom I loved.
Tough love, her favourite. Justified violence to someone weaker who’s “wrong.” Parenting, right? “DONT BITE YOUR SISTER!” was the affirmation. Associate the negative feeling with my sister as the responsible one for it, not the mouth that bit me. Marvellous.
It was never like that with my Nan. She never ever really told me off. She explained empathy and words and actions hurt feelings. She helped me understand, she was teaching me, not shaming me for making a mistake/copying my mothers aggressive behaviour.
Nan helped things make sense. With no punishments involved. I know her eldest sister bullied her a lot in her youth so she knew how my sister felt, but tended to me instead of my hurt sister. To make it stop hurting both of us, it was me that needed to learn how to change my behaviour and learn why. Mum always attended the hurt sister and scolded me for being bad. Naughty. Bad person. Trouble.
Nan smiled. She sang. She made cakes. She cooked my favourite food. She picked me up from school on a Thursday and took me Friday morning. She listened to me. She took time for me. She treasured her time with my sister and I. Que Sera Sera.
During my teen years, when puberty began I remember being really delighted with getting pubic hair. I couldn’t wait to grow up. Being a kid meant you just got told what to do all day, everyday. Adults had choices. Yay for choices!
My period came in right on cue at 13 1/2 but no boobs. My mothers words were “Congratulations! You’re a woman now.” To which I ran away and carried on writing about planets for my coursework. I got an A on that coursework. (Thanks Mr Rod!)
Periods HURT! Like ow. My year 9 form teacher brought me a cup of tea once from the staff room because I looked so grey. (Merci Madame B!) This womanhood lark was an anti-climax. Tampons were vile. They still freak me out. Cotton wool wet being dragged from my vagina was like nails on a chalkboard.
I do remember being very open about periods. I was the girl who had the pads and tampons in her locker if anyone needed any.
Periods were our claim to womanhood. They hurt. Why do we hide them? What’s so disgusting about the one thing we all had in common? Why do we hate our bodies? Where does this shame come from? What’s its purpose? The exact same concept can be also applied to female mastrubation.
I called bullshit on shaming a girl for her body doing what it is designed to do. Always have. It’s a ridiculous idea we should be ashamed of menstruation. Without it there would be no human race. Why are our womanly attributes programmed in us to be disgusting?
My breasts were slow bloomers. I crammed the teeny tiny squishy lumps into WonderBras in their smallest size, desperate to create a bosom. My mother bought me gel bras as they were able to boost a cup size. That line in my chest meant I was not a child anymore. I was woman.
My newly formed flesh very tightly pressed together, to create the smallest fold of cleavage. Occasionally wore two bras. One for cleavage, one for cup shape. That really was binding on the chest. Restricted. Strangled in an attempt to fake them.
I hated my small breasts. They just wouldn’t grow. I remember at about 14 years old searching yahoo for Wiccan spells to grow them. I had a special soap, some ribbon and a candle. I have no idea what the ritual was but I remember trying it. Desperate.
For what you ask? For school. An all girls school? 🥴 Why? Who’s arsed about my breast size at school?
Probably became the eventual cause of my breast hypoplasia in adulthood. The one that caused my breastfeeding attempts to be great struggles. I persisted with that one, despite the discussion of my tubular, insufficient breast tissue.
I still managed 1+ year partially feeding my son, with zero support or any real understanding of breastfeeding or lactation. It was insisted upon by my abusive partner. “Breast is best and the feeding is your job.”
I wasn’t dare allowed to breastfeed in public and was scolded the few times I had to as our son was howling. I combination fed from 1 month once his “colic” was explained to me to be the reason why he cried so much was due to enzymes in my milk.
My mother whom I lived with for the first weeks after birth just wanted me to give formula so she could feed him, cut me out. Have the baby time she never got. Just one on one. From newborn. Not like us who were caesarean birthed prematurely. She didn’t hold us until 3 days after my birth. I was incubated and “saved.”
We missed the whole attachment phase as widely known in the psychology of attachments and child development. I was told in adulthood she was disappointed bringing us home, after getting used to the routine of the nurses and being just “part of the team.” She has been honest about her struggle to bond. I can guess which twin she struggled with.
I come to learn about “the 4th trimester” with my second child. My instincts told me to hold my son, rock him, console his tears during his hours of crying. I did. It was hard. Mentally hard to hear your babies pain cry for that many hours a day. The second he was placed down he cried again. I was told by a young Male doctor it was “colic” and was prescribed something to mix with his milk before a feed. No referral to breastfeeding specialist or support. It was my milk that was the problem, not my expectations.
I managed 2+ years breastfeeding with my daughter, with great support from lactation consultant and breastfeeding team via NHS and her father. Her fathers words “Go ed babe!” when I’d feed her when taking my son out for McDonalds.
Plus my number one breastfeeding supporter, my Nan. (It’s almost 2am as I write this and I can hear a bird tweeting outside. Hi Nan!) She had plenty of milk, often shared her milk with other mothers who had short supply in the hospital after her birth. She loved that I breastfed my children like she did.
Breastfeeding made me love my wonky boobs. They nurtured my children. I bonded with my children through them. They had meaning and purpose beyond titilation. They were powerful.
The things that let me down so much, brought me a whole lot of joy, when I was mature enough to accept them. I forgive them. I appreciate them just as they are 🥰
To be honest, the breast hate was an aesthetic hate. It was how they looked. It was a vanity. It was seduction related as I got older. Not function related at all.
The day I hated my body most was the day after I was raped. It hurt. It was violated. It was full of burning shame. I didn’t want it anymore. I can’t write much more on this subject right now.
16 years later, I can still feel the feeling tickle up my arm hairs and I have to stop before I let that feeling back in. I am strong now. This is my body. I belongs to me. It is not the product of someone else’s actions. It is mine and wonderful. It is powerful. It is not what that feeling made me believe.
The deepest hate of my bodily functions returned and was truly realised the day I went for a scan on my latest pregnancy.
I booked with a private clinic for an early dating scan. We went along with my daughters father and my son and daughter. It was a family event for us to share.
When it came to my turn, I asked my family to wait in the waiting room and once they had checked me over I was to call them in to join us to see our little seed growing and seeing it at its smallest state.
Bladder full to bursting and full of anxiety, my heart knew something was wrong. When she told me my sac was empty, my heart broke. To walk back to my family and say “there’s a problem” was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to say out loud.
My son had been prepared for many possible outcomes of the scan, including problems that may occur. We talked about how common pregnancy issues are and how mum’s are very lucky to have pregnancies without any complications. He learned a lot when I was pregnant with his sister, through his own curiosity.
I planned a home birth for the birth of his sister, with the intentions of him being present. He was excited to be a part of it. However, so it wouldn’t be too overwhelming I covered with him the basics of birth and the stages of birth. He remained with me in the early stages of contractions. He advised me on my breathing and getting on my birth ball. He was great!
If he ever becomes a father, he will know what to expect. They were my reasons for including him and giving him the level of information about it he requested. Birth is powerful, painful but the most natural experience for a human to witness.
He was asleep by the time my labour had progressed. I contracted mostly alone in my bath, at home. My sister prepared me a warm bath as she knew water progressed me from my previous birth she attended.
While alone, I used as much of my hypnobirthing as I could manage. I learned how not to fight the contractions. I learned to let the pain wash through me without tensing in anticipation for the pain. I worked with the water to allow me to submerge myself into birth. Cocooned in water in the same was as my daughter. It made us feel safe.
During my both my births, my hair really does my head in. I pulled my hair a lot with my first birth to counter the pain in my uterus. By the time I give birth, my hair ends up in knots on top of my head in as many bobbles that will keep it away. It often reminds me of a cave woman just missing the bone.
I know through my learning the practices of hypnobirthing that the mind is a powerful tool. During birth is when I reach my tribal moment. It’s the strongest feeling of female solidarity I’ve ever felt.
During both my births, I pictured all the women all around the world who have done this before me. Throughout history.
Mary in her manger.
Cave women in their natural environments fearing the wolves who share their surroundings.
The young woman of the tribe in an hut with the company of the female elders.
The mother in the fancy hospital, swearing at doctors.
The mothers who lost their chance of experiencing this sensation. Who would give anything to share this feeling.
The women who’s birth was hijacked by the Male medical model.
The twilight birthers.
The old school mothers who spent days in hospital after birth, only responsible for the breastfeeding on the hospitals schedule. Their babies removed from their care to be “looked after” by nurses, being told they were too fragile to manage.
The unwed women who birthed in convents knowing the nuns thought they were sinners and deserving of gods punishment, and the justified torture when they removed their newborn baby from them.
Most mothers know this pain of childbirth. They know the struggle. They know the joy. They know the power.
I birthed my children with the power of womanhood silently cheering me on. It’s a feeling I adored. It’s the reason I love giving birth.
My sister, the madwife midwife, supported me when the active birth kicked into gear. Applying my TENS to my back as I sat on my own toilet. My partner was awakened by this point (my labour “singing” must have got louder.)
I managed to walk down my stairs and lay upon my couch. While trying to workout my TENS machine my water broke. Surges intensified. My midwife was called in the nick of time.
By the time she arrived I was almost ready to push. I was ready for gas and air by then. Actually I was more “GET ME THE GAS AND AIIRRR!!” once I heard her car arrive.
My daughter was born within 10 minutes of her arrival, in the presence of my daughters father, my twin sister and the funkiest midwife I’ve ever known. I requested my partner to go and get my son from his bed and bring him down. He was tired and “teddy-headed” but witnessed her brand new and went back to bed.
I wore my nans ruby ring during my labour. On our first picture I have of my daughters birth, her ring shone bright.
Back to that August day, when my body had failed me more than it ever has, the birth experience I’d began to mentally prepare for had gone. I now had to miscarry. I was still breastfeeding my daughter and did not want any medical intervention to destroy that connection. I willed my body to help me. Birth this disaster of a situation at home, with the love of my family around me was all I wanted.
I informed my NHS midwife and was scheduled for a scan the next day to confirm any loss as I had started to bleed.
The next day I went alone to the scan sharing the waiting room with happy, excited couples anticipating their 12 week scan or 20 weeks scan. Some waiting to find out whether they were having a boy or a girl. There I sat with an empty sac and no fetal pole and an ache in my uterus and my heart.
The midwives confirmed the unsuccessful pregnancy/incomplete miscarriage but unfortunately the sac remained. I begged for some time for it to naturally leave before they considered putting me on the ward for medicalised abortion. I couldn’t go there. I’d been there before with a pregnancy my life couldn’t handle at the time. This baby was wanted. By many. I didn’t want that guilt upon me. Not then.
They supported my wishes. They consoled me. All women, who let me cry.
I went, after I don’t know how long, for a scan at hospital to confirm all had left my uterus. If not the scheduled medical removal was to be planned.
Fortunately it had left while I was at home and had my family around me. Likely encouraged by the breastfeeding that my daughter and I had increased, knowing it helps clear the uterus after natural birth.
During the final scan two women examined my entire empty uterus searching for anything remaining. That was the day I saw my ovaries on screen. Those seed pods my children came from. I saw them. I thought they were amazing.
I saw a lot of my insides on screen that day. My Fallopian tubes were marvellous too. The wonder of this mysterious powerful place within me, witnessed. It was a powerful realisation just how clever my body is, and always has been.
I was signed off after that appointment. My day was done. No further treatment required. I buried the maternity notes in the boot of my car and tried to move on. I went home and my daughter came for my breast to comfort her.
I didn’t hate my body for letting me down as much when I got to see how wonderful it was. The very space my babies grew in. My body still bringing love and comfort to my daughter and hugs to my son.
It’s such a natural emotion to despise your body. It’s drip fed to us through society, language and mass media enforcing the idea our bodies are dangerous, unsatisfactory, disgusting, unworthy.
The most powerful thing we can achieve is realising the beauty it holds. Not vain beauty, or attractiveness, but the wonder in our scars, our wounds, our pain, our recoveries.
Healing our wounds comes from within. The scab forms on our cut finger without us having to do a thing.
Even when my body let me down deeply, I trusted it to repair itself and it did.
The same goes for the mentality surrounding body hate. If you leave the scab alone and not deepen the wound, that too can heal.
Medicalising body hate seems unimportant and even re-traumatising. Permanent solutions to temporary problems have taught me to make my choices wiser and have faith in and make friends with my body.
Resenting your own body isn’t uncommon for all people- young/old, tall/short, large/petite, abled/disabled. Punishing it doesn’t change the hate, it deepens it. Forgiveness was key to bringing peace.
We’re in it together 💜💚🥰