33 years old
2 previous pregnancies, 2 children aged 12 and 15 months
Currently 25 weeks pregnant
I got married at 20 and had my first baby 10 months after we married. I went from a UK size 10 to about a 16 during my first pregnancy and got what I thought were the most hideous stretch marks. I did get a lot of stretch marks, right across my belly and my stomach never went back to its previous size. My husband’s sex drive had never been high but after going through the birth with me it was non-existent. Our marriage lasted about a year or so more and then I ended things and moved out to live alone with our son. My already fragile confidence after experiencing a difficult teenage years was even more battered.
When my son was 2 I returned to university to study Environmental Sciences. It was the best decision I made, my son went to the university nursery and I worked hard. I loved studying and loved my degree. My confidence grew generally but the whole time I still felt I hated my body, I went down to about a size 12 but felt like a young woman who’d missed out on being able to wear skimpy clothes and bikinis. I hid my stretch marks and flabby stomach from the world. I never felt I had a pretty face, my large breasts and long legs got lots of attention and mainly I would feel like a piece of meat to men in the street. I would try and hide them when I was out, I hated the attention.
While in my 3rd year I met the man who was to become my second husband. He seemed to be a confident, good looking and loving man. He loved my hour glass figure and seemed unfazed by my stretch marked stomach, I discovered that having big breasts and hips could be a sexy thing, but I still had my dreaded stomach to hide, I regretted not loving my body more before getting pregnant. In time I learnt he had his own issues about his self image, he’d had a serious accident which had left him scarred and with a badly broken nose. At times he would have a complete melt down about himself, so we ended up 2 fragile people together and in the end the relationship failed.
Shortly after our relationship broke down I had a brief fling with a friend and fell pregnant with my second child. I was terrified; I already hated my body and was scared what another pregnancy would do to it. I was alone and thought that I was going to be on my own forever. At this point an angel friend came to my rescue and paid for a long course of counselling for me, I got on incredibly well with the counselling, worked hard, confronted some issues, learnt how to trust and I can honestly say it completely changed my life.
During this time and while I was 4 months pregnant, I met a man on a week-long residential course with work. I was much more wary of becoming involved but in the end I followed my heart and we continued to see each other and moved in together much faster than I would have thought sensible. Luckily this turned out to be the best decision I made, he was there for the 20 week scan and the birth of my second son. He is an amazing father to him and we are now happily expecting our own baby together, though for both of us it feels like our second baby together. Both my son’s see their natural fathers but both get to share the experience of having this amazing man in our lives.
The biggest difference is my own self-esteem. My partner clearly completely fancies and adores me. He is loving and supportive and we share the same ideals, hopes and dreams from life. He sees my belly, both when pregnant and after as a beautiful miracle thing which has produced beautiful children. This attitude couldn’t help but rub off on me, I am finally feeling proud of my body and the wonderful work it’s done and is continuing to do. A few days ago I asked him to take some photos of me and the bump, stretch marks and all. I felt brave, liberated and beautiful. I am so proud of these photos it seemed fortuitous to then discover this website, so I’ve decided to share them with you, this is my biggest step yet in accepting my body, especially as I’ve decided to show you my face too.