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Talking Body Image & Loving Yourself with ‘The Birds Papaya’

Eloise Edington  |   22 Oct 2020


 

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We’re delighted to be chatting all things motherhood, body image, relationships and loving yourself with Sarah Nicole, AKA blogger ‘The Birds Papaya’ as she’s famously known.

Over to The Birds Papaya

www.thebirdspapaya.com | @thebirdspapaya

Where does ‘The Birds Papaya’ come from?

I began my blog 12 years ago, with a baby and a toddler (my two daughters) and since everyone with a blog had cute blog names, I decided to do the same and named it after my two girls’ nicknames, Jemma “Birdie” and Maya “Papaya”

How did your popular blog start?

Quite frankly, out of the loneliness of motherhood. I had just moved six hours away from all my family and my hometown, and felt isolated in the experiences I was having, while being a stay-at-home mom, with no vehicle to use during the days. I found blogs were a way that I connected with people again, and after diving into being a consumer of them, I decided to google how to start my own, coded it myself while the kids slept and just began. It was absolutely atrocious but I’m so proud I kept with it.

Related Article – Mummies in Waiting, Learn to Mother Yourself First

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What motivated you to lose weight and how did it change your body image / confidence? Did it affect relationships?

After living away from home, and having my third child, I was sitting at 225lbs and had moved back to my hometown. I had SO much anxiety around people seeing me and a lot of shame around my body image. I decided to lose weight, so I would feel better about myself. Isn’t that what we’re sold? Well, since I was a stay at home mom with no extra money for any type of program or gym, I just downloaded apps that told me how little to eat and exercised as much as possible. I did lose weight, 100lbs+, but the reality was… I ended up with more hate for my body, an increase of anxiety leaving the house and being seen, and an increase in shame. At the same time, my world was crumbling and I was going through a divorce and moving back in with my parents with three kids in tow. It was time to overhaul everything I had tried to just pass off as “healthy” and face the demons I’d been avoiding. It meant acknowledging my imperfect life, imperfect body, and being healthy for REAL, which meant…gaining weight!

Many women (and men) are advised to get to a healthy BMI for natural conception or fertility treatment. It’s difficult to have another hurdle when TTC (trying to conceive). What’s your advice?

I do know that for many weight does come into play for fertility and, without being a fertility specialist, I’m not sure how I would approach that. BUT I do know that BMI is incredibly flawed and stemmed from a study of white men. It’s been proven inaccurate, yet is still used as a measurement for health, unfairly.

You say ‘shame feels like a dirty secret’. That word can resonate with the TTC community. Why do people feel like this and how can you change your outlook?

Shame breeds in the dark. When we hide things, when we feel alone, when we feel like a failure. Shame lives in the places people can’t see or can’t know. This is why I love sharing, creating human connection, even for those who aren’t ready or choose not to share their own hurts, hangups, shame… just for them to know they’re not alone.

What are your top 5 coping mechanisms in life?

Exercise, reading (non fiction so I don’t think about myself), taking a bath, keeping a journal, and asking for support/reaching out to a friend.

Related Article – Exercise Whilst Trying to Conceive: 5 Fitness Trainers who Help the Body, Mind and Soul

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Self-confidence – How can people learn to love themselves?

I think the importance of this is to remove our feeling of confidence from externals. Sure, red lipstick may make you feel bold and confident…but did the red lipstick do that, or are you bold and confident and the red lipstick mirrors that for you? It’s important to start giving yourself the credit and the control again. Love is an action word, but we associate it with a butterfly in the stomach, heart-fluttering emotion that is near-impossible to achieve for ourselves. But, we can show up in love, in the ways we love ourselves, and only we know what that can mean when it comes to body confidence.

Struggling to conceive and fertility treatment can affect relationships. What’s your advice for keeping the spark alive when feeling insecure? Have you ever had any issues conceiving or carrying a pregnancy?

My partner supported me while I was wearing a t-shirt in the bedroom for the first year and a half of our relationship. I was very body conscious and it did impact the way I felt in my relationship. When I was honest, it was good for him to know I wasn’t just removing myself from intimacy due to him, it was a me factor. In time, I began to allow touch and intimacy and coming back home to my body in a way that felt good to share it. With conceiving, I had my first three between the ages of 20-25. I didn’t have trouble trying to conceive, so I was fearful to even DESIRE a child with my new husband (who has no children of his own). I feared wanting it and it not being an option. The decision plagued me, and kept us talking in circles. Deep down, I knew I wanted a baby or at least to try, but I feared the emotional toll to getting there. So we compromised, we would open the window and see if it happened, and if it didn’t we would lay it to rest. Immediately I felt anxious over the decision and wasn’t sure I could continue in the pursuit. To our shock, that opened window was exactly what we needed. We’ve been navigating the new world of this ever since.

Related Article – Dealing with Anxiety and Uncertainty on your Fertility Journey

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Fourth baby! Congrats! Tell us about your route to motherhood?

Motherhood in my 20’s was how I defined myself. I wasn’t a woman, I was a mother. This time, I am a woman, who also happens to have children. I’m re-framing what it means, approaching it all entirely differently and, while I’ve faced new challenges (like prenatal depression and detachment issues I didn’t see coming), I’m excited to see where this journey takes us, even if every step of the way I am nervous to trust, nervous to put my heart into it because I am fearful of it being taken away, or taking me and the bits of my life that I love away. I am fully embracing the fear, and I think that’s kind of entirely what motherhood has been for me.

Related Article – How Infertility has Rocked these Women’s Romantic Relationships; and How Communication has Improved Them

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