It's tough for any woman to learn to love her new body after going through a pregnancy. But after carrying her daughter for six months, and then making the difficult decision to have an abortion after learning her baby had severe fetal abnormalities, Jessica McCoy's struggle has been magnified. The 27-year-old recently decided to share her grief on Instagram, relaying a powerful message about the importance of self-love, People reported.
"I am not okay with my body," she captioned a photo of herself baring her stretch marks. "I think I would've been okay if Evie was here, although she would've likely still been cooking inside me. The fact that I am bigger than I normally am and don't have my baby makes it harder." (McCoy is surely not alone in dealing with postpartum depression (PPD) and other after-pregnancy conditions. Celebs like Kenda Wilkinson-Baskett have advocated for better professional help for the many struggling women.)
"I dealt with a postpartum body after [my first child], Brennan. And I was uncomfortable in my larger body, but it grew my beautiful little man, and how could I be upset with it when I looked at him? Every day I get clothes on and they're tight. And every day I'm reminded that I grew my baby for six months and she died. It really is a constant reminder to me."
Understandably, that's made it very difficult for the young mom to stay positive and feel comfortable in her own skin. "It's too hard and it hurts too much...looking in the mirror at my uncovered body hurts," she wrote.
While women often come together in person and online to share their journey toward a body-positive outlook after giving birth, Jessica's story and post points out that there's something missing in this conversation: how women learn to accept their bodies after losing a child. (Related: CrossFit Mom Revie Jane Schulz Wants You to Love Your Postpartum Body Just As It Is.)
"I've never seen anyone post about their feelings toward their body after pregnancy loss," she told People in an interview. "I've seen so many body-positive posts by women celebrating their body because it grew their beautiful child, and I fully support that, but at this time, I don't feel that. I feel anger toward my body. I feel like I can't trust it. I feel broken. And every time I look in the mirror or put clothes on, it's a reminder that my sweet girl is gone."
Her only hope is that her post will comfort other women who find themselves in her shoes and let them know that they're not alone in their struggle.
"I wanted to share my experience in case any other women feel the same way so that they won't feel so alone," Jessica said. "I know it has worked because I've had literally hundreds of comments and messages from women thanking me for sharing and letting me know my story helped them to want to share their experiences so that people they know can be helped as well."
Along with the positive feedback, Jessica has received her fair share of negative comments—enough that she's now made her Instagram account private.
"Of course, with the nature of my loss, I have received some very hateful comments from those in the pro-life group, which is sad," she told the magazine. "Some have even posted that they wish that I was dead (the irony here is not lost on me), but they really don't bother me because I know my decision was 100 percent made with love for my daughter and never wanting her to suffer."
At the end of the day, Jessica's only motivation to share her intimate feelings was to help other women heal in similar situations.
"Many women experience body image issues on a regular basis," she says. "When those body image issues are coupled with pregnancy loss, it makes the experience that much more painful. It is a constant reminder of what could have been and it is hard to deal with having a different body and no baby to show for it. And hardly anyone is talking about it. I want to help with starting the conversation because it helps to know that others are out there, feeling the same way as you."