Both of my parents are genetically beautiful people. My father was an athelete, and my mother was a knockout. I did not grow up knowing about diets or poor body image, it was just the opposite for me. I was always a thin child and teen. At the age of 10 I “grew” my first stretch marks on my hips. I remember showing my Mom, and then showing my Grandmother who was a nurse. The both agreed that I was experiencing the first signs of “womanhood” and assured me that it was completely normal.
Since I can remember, I wanted to become a mother.
When I first married my husband at the age of 23, I had (what America would consider) a “perfect” body. I was thin with perky breasts, a tight tummy, and lean muscular limbs. Our first pregnancy was with identical twins. I grew a slight belly and my breasts swelled a tad, but by the 4th month, we lost our babies. My body returned to it’s normal state with no evidence of any pregnancy, which kind of saddened me. Months later we became pregnant with our first live child. I was 125lbs. when she was concieved. I delivered her in my 8th month, weighing in at 210lbs.. Amazingly the only stretch marks I grew during that pregnancy were in the calves of my legs and some on my thighs- not a single mark on my large belly! My breasts, however, were changed forever. Going from a 34B, to a 38DD was an amazing process. I could barely stuff my nipple into my preemie’s mouth! Fourteen months later, we concieved our second child. I was 145lbs. at that time, and still nursing. I only gained 30lbs. this time around, but my belly was stretched to its limit by week 41. Our natural birth went off without a hitch and I delivered a healthy 7lber. With that pregnancy, by the 9th month, I noticed stretch marks growing around my flat naval. My thighs also grew a new family of stretch marks, as well as my bum. I felt as if I was bursting at the seams. Here is a picture taken during our labor with that baby:
That was over 4 years ago. I breastfed that baby until this past year, which is when I dropped most of my weight. Now we prepare to concieve again this coming year.
It has taken me a long time to learn to love my postpartum body. Now that I don’t have “babies” anymore, I see my stretch marks not as scars but as reminders. They each tell a story. My belly might not ever be the 6-pack it once was 10 years ago, but it has housed many babies- those that have passed on, as well as those that have “stuck”. So, here is my belly now. A bit jiggly, and speckled with stripes (and exploratory surgery scars), but still feminine to me!