Montana Cheal, 34, Hoboken, NJ

This year, as part of our Take Back The Beach program, we are asking YOU to tell us about your experiences with body talk and self-perception. Below, one reader's story.

"No Wonder Your Baby's Breech!"

My son was born at 8:26 p.m. on February 2 via C-section. The first sensation I felt after they squished that chubby little body out of that remarkably small incision was relief — relief because I could hear a living, breathing baby wailing (in what I can only assume was a reasonable response to the harsh exit strategy), but also physical relief unlike anything I'd ever experienced.
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For months, he'd been wedged with his head under my right ribcage, crushing my lungs and pushing down on a set of nerves above my cervix. The result was extraordinary pain whenever I attempted to walk more than a few feet at a time, so I'd spent the bulk of my third trimester on the couch, housing bagels and pints of Ben & Jerry's in an attempt to feel something approaching pleasure, without the benefit of wine or exercise. NYC is littered with pregnant women with perfect little basketball bellies crushing Soul Cycle classes like all that extra human growth hormone is somehow akin to free doping. Meanwhile, I sobbed trying to take my dog around the block.
So when they told me, after the procedure, that I had what was called a septate uterus (basically a wall down the center of the uterus) that prevented my son from moving into proper birthing position — which was likely the culprit for both the extreme pain and a miscarriage from another pregnancy earlier in the year — I wasn't completely surprised. What I was, was grateful. Grateful, grateful, grateful that this body somehow figured a way to fight through 39 weeks and deliver a perfect little person into my arms. Whole, happy, healthy.
So, six months later, as you might have guessed, I haven't shed all the "pregnancy weight." And I'm surprised to find — after a decade plus of juice cleanses, diet fads, and exercise obsession — the amount of fucks I give adds up to zero. This fat ass fought for me when it really mattered. Hating it now seems absurd.
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#TakeBackTheBeach essays are meant to reflect individual women's experiences. They have only been lightly edited (if at all) by Refinery29 and do not necessarily reflect the company's point of view. Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity or harmful behavior.
Have a story of body image and self-perception that you want to share? Submit your essay to our Take Back The Beach contest here.
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