When you are eight months pregnant and change, everyone says to you “I’ll bet you are ready to get your body back.” If your answer is always “YES I AM!” there’s a few things you should know.

You don’t get your body back.

You get someone else’s body back. Someone with a limp sack for a trunk and bad skin.

Your new body is nothing like the one you remember, and this time the change isn’t gradual. It’s immediate. You go into labor with the tight, glowing, “I’m special because I’m pregnant” body, and the next day you wake up with something completely alien.

You look fatter at first.

When you are pregnant, people open doors for you. You are special, the world wants to protect you and be nice to you because you are growing the next generation in your womb and your hormones make you a walking time bomb.

After the baby comes, you have to keep wearing maternity clothes, and guess what? You somehow look FATTER in them. Now, instead of a glowing pregnant lady, people just see a frumpy fat chic. No one opens the door for the frumpy fat chic.

I had no problem swimming laps in a bikini when I was full-term pregnant. But after the baby? Forget it. The world does not need to see that.

You become a virgin again.

I could deal with my new mom arms, and my chunky mom knees. I could even deal with the mom double-chin. But what broke my heart was the first time I looked at my new mom vagina. It looked like a cartoon rifle after someone puts a cork in the end and the bullet explodes.

The flower that was once so familiar is suddenly totally foreign. For me, there was a fear and disgust towards myself that was very similar to the way I felt as a budding adolescent.

And the first time after baby feels like the first time ever. All of your preferences have been erased and reset to factory settings. Take it slow, it’s going to hurt, and it’s okay to say that you’re not ready yet.

Buy new shoes.

I spent the last six weeks of pregnancy wearing flip flops that cut into my feet – yes, your feet will get too fat for flip flops – because I didn’t want to buy shoes that would only fit for two months. Guess what? Your feet do not go back to their old size overnight. Two months after labor, I was still wearing those uncomfortable flip flops.

Do something nice for your feet and your back, get comfy shoes when your feet swell.

Get ready for the urge to fringe.

A couple of weeks before my due date, I decided I wanted to get my ears pierced again. Then I had the urge to get a mohawk. I’m not making this up! I’m a white bread Baptist girl from Minnesota who never even colors her hair and suddenly I’m morphing into Mr. T? I started braiding cornrows on one side of my head, which earned me the nickname “Chola” from my husband.

Lots of mommies get tattoos and edgy haircuts after their kids are born. Why is this? Are we reclaiming our bodies from the little buggers that destroyed it and continue to feed off it every 40 minutes?

Or maybe those things we once thought were outrageous and beyond our courage are nothing now that we’ve been through pregnancy and delivery. Whatever the reason, it’s normal. If not normal, at least common.

Taking your body back is a process.

Once you have your new body, you have to learn to own it. Even love it.

You have to readjust the relationship between your identity and your appearance.

You have to say goodbye to the little black dress that, even if you could fit into it again, just doesn’t feel like “you” anymore now that you’re a mother.

You have to put some time into doing up your hair even though it’s all falling out, because what you have left is worth dolling up.

You have to throw out your old marriage-bed routine and discover your sexuality all over again.

But I promise, somewhere between rubbing stretch mark cream on your hips, painting your nails, and buying your first pair of mom jeans, you get a glimpse of your new self in the mirror and you think “That body carried a child. THAT body. This body.”

Then you strike a super hero pose.

Let’s hear from you! What are the things that helped you get your body back? Share them with us on the MHM Facebook page!

Author: Emma Fulenwider
Emma is our MHM team writer, covering the many aspects of Mom-preneur life. A mother of two and memoir writer by trade, she runs Cedar Pen Life Stories from her home in Sacramento.