Before I had my son, I had no idea how much motherhood would change my life. I had no idea I could feel so exhausted, yet so exhilarated at the same time. I had no idea how much I would long for just five minutes alone, yet miss my baby so tremendously the minute I was away from him. I had no idea how excited I would be to see him take his first steps, all while wishing he would stay tiny forever.

Motherhood changes women, permanently

We become stronger - I don't know if the pre-pregnancy me could have endured those late nights, early mornings and long days. My mental strength and stamina is greater than it has ever been since having a child because I know I can do the hardest things.

We become more selfless - As long as those late nights are and as much as we may complain, we know we would give the world for our child.

We become another's source of life - There's nothing quite as shocking as taking a tiny infant home from the hospital knowing that you are 100 percent responsible to make sure he is safe, happy, well-fed and healthy. That level of responsibility changes a woman into a warrior; a super hero.

These permanent changes are inevitable and beautiful. So why are we so unwilling to accept that our physical bodies will be permanently changed as well?

New moms are bombarded from all sides by advertisements for products, pills, programs and special diets designed to help us "get our pre-baby bodies back," and when we find that our bodies don't actually go back to what they were, we feel like we are somehow failing, and that we would be happier and better off if we looked the way we used to.

Here's the thing: I don't want my pre-baby body back, and neither should you

My pre-baby body hadn't created a life, housed it for nearly 10 months, then safely delivered that beautiful, precious package into the world. My pre-baby body didn't go through 23 hours of exhausting labor. My pre-baby body didn't have the capacity to nourish my baby exclusively for the first six months of life. My pre-baby body didn't sacrifice sleep every night for nearly 10 months until my baby finally slept through the night.

For years I feared and lamented what having a baby would do to my body. What about the stretch marks, and the saggy boobs, the belly? What about all my cute clothes? What about my abs?

I realize now that each and every change in my body is physical evidence of a miraculous transformation from a woman to a mother, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Without the stretch marks, there would be no baby.

Without the saggy boobs there would be no milk.

Without the loose skin around my belly there would be no cute, giggling, cuddly boy who never wants to go to bed.

"Getting my pre-baby body back" won't make me a happier person, a better mom, a better wife, friend or neighbor.

Mamas, it's time to stop wishing for your pre-baby body back, and start loving the body you have.

It's time to stop looking for a miracle cure, a product or a workout plan that will "get your pre-baby body back" and start creating health, fitness and happiness in the body you now have

It's time to throw away (or donate) those cherished pre-baby clothes that will never fit the same again and find clothes that help you feel beautiful in your body.

Motherhood is a total transformation. We may mourn the loss of our freedom, sleeping in, our stretch-mark-free bodies, our alone time — but we know that what we gain will always be more than what we lost. We can't go back, and that's a good thing.

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