It has almost been a year since I gave birth to Levi, and I wanted to share an update on how my body has changed in hopes it brings encouragement and a real perspective to motherhood. Being someone that is entrenched in social media, I often see other moms or celebrities "bounce back" within six months to their pre-baby bodies. Not me. It takes me longer, and it takes the majority of people longer than six months. 

This is my second pregnancy, and both of my pregnancies I gained 35 pounds. I lost that baby weight gradually over the course of a year. Back in March, I shared pictures of my body taken 4 months post-partum in size 12 pants and weighing 148 pounds. I'm now wearing size 8 pants and I weigh 134. You can see a side by side above.

My pre-pregnancy self was 127 wearing size 4, but I was also working out three times a week at the gym. I have not been able to exercise at all since the birth of Levi because I have had a flair up of arthritis and my Hashimotos disease has caused my thyroid to get out of whack. We are still working on finding the right dosage to reduce the inflammation in my body, but once I'm pain free I'll get back to the gym. 

But regardless of working out or not, these are just numbers and pictures. How do I really feel about myself? Do I feel normal now? 

I feel great about myself now, and, yes, I feel normal now. I finally feel like I can invest money in clothes I love and not just wear a cheap postpartum wardrobe from Target. I don't find myself self-conscious about my stomach anymore. I also feel confident to wear a swimsuit again. (Below, is an un-edited picture of me 9 months postpartum.)

Is there room for improvement? Of course, but muscle tone is totally different than just simply wearing clothes that feel like you and being in sizes that feel "normal" to myself. Can I wear all of my old clothes yet? Nope, but I'm not discouraged by that. It takes time my friends, and it will take more time for me. Give your bodies grace. It took a year to grow a human and it takes a year to feel and look like yourself again. And it may take even longer than that (like me) to get back to your pre-baby self. I just want to tell you that it's NORMAL. What's not normal is getting back to your pre-baby body in six months or less. That's amazing! Congratulations to the women that can do that, but it's not the norm. Don't put that pressure on yourself.

Be patient and realistic with your body. In time you will feel like yourself again, and in the meantime, pat yourself on the back for creating a beautiful baby.

Photos by Rennai Hoefer. All photos of my body are un-edited to give an accurate depiction of my body.