I have gained A LOT since I've been pregnant. More than I ever thought I would. If my 21-year-old self saw me now, she wouldn't recognize me, and I'll be honest, it's brought me to tears more than once. You want to know how much I've gained? I will tell you.

As of today, I've gained 41 pounds of a smart, funny, sweet, sensitive, silly human and 22 pounds of snuggly, giggly, curious, chubby-cheeked little human.

Please listen. So much attention is paid to our postpartum physical appearance. Everywhere you look, celebrities are posting bikini selfies days after popping out a kid and the media is screaming at you to "lose the baby weight in 30 days!" and "get your pre-baby body back!" Then we look in the mirror and wonder why our bodies aren't Victoria's Secret catalog worthy. That's why I want to talk not of loss, but of GAIN. Let's focus on what we really gain when we become mothers.

We gain perspective

Think about what mattered to you before you had a child. Now think about what matters today. Think about when your baby is sick or frustrated or sad, how your heart aches. Think about what keeps you up at night, what is always in the forefront of your mind. Think about how your entire being is affected by just the thought, sight, sound, smell of your baby. Everything in the world is suddenly put in perspective.

We gain the trait of selflessness

It sneaks up on us slowly. We don't wake up one day deciding to be selfless. It just happens. Our soul takes us gently by the shoulder and guides us in that direction. Quietly. Your world no longer revolves around you as it did in pre-baby life. The part of our self we focus on today exists outside of our body. Every decision we make now, we make with someone else in mind. That someone else comes before everything else. We sacrifice: sacrifice that comes in the form of sleep, vanity, time, money, and self. And we do it without thought or hesitation; for it is natural to us.

We gain a sense of meaning

The joy, the pain, the highs, the lows. Our life has so much importance now that we are raising little human beings. We have so much power; so much responsibility. The enormity of that is truly daunting and at times it's just plain overwhelming; yet it's our reality nonetheless. And we embrace it.

We gain unconditional love

You are Mom. In their eyes, there is no one like you in the whole world. They can pick you up out of a line up blind-folded. They need you when they are scared, happy, hurt, proud, sad. They need you because you're you. Period. The love is pure and unique and unconditional.

We gain self-worth

As mothers we are aware that we are imperfect. We constantly strive to earn the title "Mom" by evolving and learning. We know that we know nothing. And yet, our heart tells us we are needed. We are loved. We are good. We are worthy of being his mother.

The next time you look in the mirror and instinctively criticize what you see, please remember this:

Those postpartum arms carry sleepy, warm little bodies to bed, they fall asleep and get numb because you don't dare move her, they wrap dry towels around shivering shoulders, embrace outstretched arms, deftly catch clumsy toddlers the moment before they hit the ground, and lift squealing babies in the air. Your legs have ached as you stood endlessly rocking a newborn, run with lighting speed after a toddler heading toward the road, bent down to pick up dropped pacifiers while still holding your little one on your hip. Your un-manicured hands wipe tear-stained faces and runny noses, rub backs, hold tiny hands, wash dirty feet, tuck in, tickle, cover coughs, push swings, cup vomit, caress cheeks, cool feverish foreheads, calm, comfort, soothe, love.

The next time you look in the mirror, remember, you are so very lucky to have gained so much.

Editor's note: This article was originally published on CT Working Moms. It has been republished here with permission.

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