This story was originally published on March 13, 2015 at 4:56 p.m.
After giving birth to four kids in five years, Joanna Venditti was attending a wedding recently when she started to think about all the changes and transformations her body had gone through.
“I looked around the room and I realized that I’m the mom of four and there are a lot of beautiful young women there and I’m kind of in this different category now,” Venditti, who lives near Toronto, Ontario, told TODAY Parents.
“I was really surprised with myself about how OK I was with that. That’s my new phase in life and that’s great and I’m really proud of myself.”
The moment inspired Venditti, 32, to write a column for her blog that’s generating buzz for her honest portrayal of her post-pregnancy figure and how she’s come to terms with it.
Her focus now: Celebrating what her body has done, rather than thinking it was somehow “ruined,” and losing the baby weight, but taking her time.
“My goal is to be fit, be healthy, and feel good in what I wear. I’m not looking to be rail thin,” she said.
Venditti’s first two pregnancies were routine, with fast and easy deliveries that required zero recovery time. At 5 feet and 2 inches tall, Venditti normally weighed about 125 pounds, gaining 50 with the first two babies and losing the weight within months.
Then, she found out she was pregnant with twin girls, a “total surprise” that made her and her husband so giddy that they laughed for three days. But Venditti was soon nervous about how large her belly would grow and she was overwhelmed by the countless doctor’s appointments, ultrasounds and blood tests that came with multiples.
It was a rough pregnancy, Venditti recalled. So she came up with a mantra whenever things got frustrating: “You are a vessel, you are a vessel,” she would repeat to herself out loud. It helped her disassociate her mind from her body, putting the focus on the babies, she said.
At her heaviest, Venditti weighed 190 pounds. When it came time to give birth, she had to deliver via a cesarean section that came with more recovery time, but there were other problems to come: She struggled with pain in her upper torso from her organs moving and stretching to accommodate the twins. It became so bad that she couldn’t lie down and had to sleep in a sitting position for a week.
“I told my husband, I don’t feel like myself,” Venditti said. “This adorable cute belly that would distract everyone was gone and you’re left with the remains. I did feel sad, I almost mourned.”
Her body had been through a war, she wrote, so she made the decision to be kind to it.
She tries to work out each morning to tone her muscles and stay in shape. She eats healthy foods, but indulges on occasion and tries not to feel guilty about it.
Any time she has a moment of insecurity, she asks herself: "How many other people in this room grew two people inside their body at once?"
Seven months after the twins’ birth, Venditti now weighs about 140 pounds and hopes to return to the 120s.
Her message to other women: “Take your time, love your body… celebrate what your body has done.”