My world was flipped upside down by becoming pregnant. I was a runner; I competed in 5ks all the time and I was training for a half marathon before I became pregnant.

Our son was born via caesarean section and I remember my husband was by my side telling me I looked so beautiful right then and there, even though I’m sure I looked like I got run over by a bus twice. He was so proud of me and loved me for being brave enough to do this with him.

Since my son was born premature and he spent time in the NICU, I struggled to even think about going back to the gym. My body had been cut into to save my son’s life. I was physically weak from giving birth and being a new mother. I was also suffering from the baby blues shortly after my son was born. I left my job so I could stay at home with him and give him the care and attention he needed when he finally came home from NICU, which I have to say was the best decision of my life.

My husband had to go work abroad almost a month after my son came home from NICU.

To say it was hard is an understatement. I couldn’t find time to return to the gym and ‘get back’ the body I once had before, so it was impossible to return to that body. My hips changed, my waist was changed, and I had a soft tummy. Even the way I jogged was different. I couldn’t really get to the gym due to having a small baby who was getting shots every month of his life to prevent him from catching RSV and whooping cough. I tried running in my stroller but still found it hard with the caesarean section to make a hard return to fitness. So I found yoga and belly dance. Both have helped me to not only feel comfortable in my own skin, but also to embrace how my body is NOW.

I know that I’ll never go back to that 95-pound runner’s frame I used to have, but I’m quite happy becoming a healthy yoga/belly dancing mama. I think I’m finally at a place in my life where I don’t feel like I need to conform to what mass media tells me I should look like. I know that I’ll never have 6-pack abs and big breasts and a big butt and I’m okay with that! We are all so different and it’s amazing how just growing a tiny person in your body can make you feel so many emotions about yourself. I’m so happy to have this little boy in my life showing me that life is different and beautiful and that HE loves me no matter what I look like.