mom and baby with groceries
Wonder Women

Loving My Postpartum Body, Leaks and All

Here at Lily Bird, we feature personal stories written by smarty pants women from our community. That’s because telling your bladder who’s boss is better as a team sport. These women get you. They’re in your corner. And they’re here to remind you that your body isn’t broken. Hey, bodies age, bladders leak, and movie sequels bomb. Right?

This week Holly’s here to share how she learned to love her postpartum body, leaks and all.

_____________

When my oldest son was just shy of two years old, I started training to become a childbirth educator.

At the in-person training, I met a lot of amazing, strong, smart women. Most of them had several children, and therefore had a lot more experience than I did when it came to pregnancy, breastfeeding, parenting… and the lingering effects of giving birth.

In one particularly memorable session, when we were discussing the importance of Kegel exercises throughout pregnancy, I remember the instructors talking about different times they practiced their Kegels. At red lights. During long-winded conversations with supervisors at work. While sneezing.

“Best way ever to hold in a leak!” One of the ladies exclaimed.

I laughed with the rest of them. But I didn’t understand, not really.

I had stayed relatively fit during my first pregnancy. I had had an uncomplicated vaginal birth, and my little guy had been on the smaller side (though not dangerously so). I had since taken up semi-regular exercise again. My body never did quite reach the level of tautness I had enjoyed pre-pregnancy, but I was healthy and fit in most every way. It may be an ongoing joke among moms that having kids means you’ll pee your pants for the rest of your life, but that hadn’t been my experience.

I laughed with the rest of them. But I didn’t understand, not really.

Now, after having given birth a second time, I get it. I really do.

Now I have turned into one of those women who Kegels when she sneezes. When I feel the urge coming on, I tighten those muscles and hope for the best. Sometimes it works. More often, it doesn’t.

Leaks happen. I think that they’re just a fact of life for me now. For the time being, anyway.

And, for the most part, I’m okay with that. I don’t necessarily like it, not by a long shot, but I’m not despairing over it, either. My reproductive life has left a number of, er, marks on my body. The occasional incidence of bladder leakage is one of them.

Sometimes the leaks happen at predictable times: during a sneeze, while sprinting across the playground after my one-year-old, while jumping around the room with my six-year-old. Other times, they are less expected: while climbing the stairs, when getting up from my sewing desk, in the middle of a grocery shopping trip.

It’s never a lot, just a few drops before I mentally panic and clamp down and regain control. And it’s honestly not that often. I will often go long enough between “episodes” that I can almost forget that it’s even an issue for me.

But they’re definitely a thing. I have bladder leaks. I bore two living children, I gave birth to them vaginally, and now the muscles in that area just aren’t as tight as they used to be. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.

Like so many lingering effects of pregnancy, I am optimistic that with time, leaks may become a thing of the past. As my breastfeeding relationship with my youngest winds down, my breasts will slowly resume their original shape and size, though perhaps not their original perkiness. My tummy has already shrunk substantially, and someday regular exercise may firm it back up again. I’ll start getting more sleep as my baby grows into toddlerhood and eventually into his preschool years, and maybe I’ll stop waking up every two hours even when I no longer need to help either child get back to sleep.

I have bladder leaks. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.

And maybe, just maybe, if I keep at those Kegels, the leaks will continue to diminish and eventually fade into a distant memory. But until then, leaks are simply part of my life. If that’s one of the consequences for having a strong, beautiful body that grew and nourished two healthy boys, I’ll gladly take ‘em.

By Holly S.
Holly
is a military wife and a mom of two lively boys, born five years apart. She has been working to come to terms with the many long-term implications of parenthood. She currently resides in Virginia where she spends what little free time she has reading, writing, cooking, playing board games, doing yoga, and learning about essential oils & other facets of natural living.

Want to share your own story about leaky laughs or dribble dilemmas? Give us a shout at hello@mylilybird.com.