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I know I’m a bad person… (Anonymous)

March 2, 2008

I just found out I am pregnant. My friend told me about this site. I know this is terrible to say, but after looking at all the posts, instead of being completely crazed with excitement, I’m terrified about stretch marks, massively huge nipples, a flabby a** or stomach…oh, God, I just want to look normal after. I’m absolutely, completely terrified now. I know I’ll be told “it’s worth it when your child arrives,” but I admit…I’m a vain person. I work hard now to have a good body, I eat well…I feel attractive. I already love my child beyond words, but this is truly disturbing me. How do I deal?

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21 Responses to “I know I’m a bad person… (Anonymous)”

  1. bonnie Says:
    March 2nd, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    My own two cents -

    I think it is absolutely normal to be afraid of what this website shows. That’s part of what this site is for – to normalize the postpartum body.

    But take care to note that not every body is drastically different after pregnancy. Many moms do, in fact, bounce right back.

    No matter what, we, as women, need to learn to be OK with our bodies so I would recommend that you start down that path now regardless of what the end result will be. You ARE and will be beautiful.

  2. Regina Says:
    March 2nd, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    you know, that;s how EVERY SINGLE woman here felt. terrified!!!! and you know what? you might not get stretch marks!! you might pop right back with no effort or look even BETTER than you do now. you change. your mind set and what is important to you changes. and it;s not always that you DEAL with the marks of pregnancy. you don;t always COPE with stretch marks and sagginess. the only thing in the entire world that i LOVE about my body is my STRETCH MARKS!!! my daughter gave them to me. i was pregnant, i grew another person, a daughter, an angel. Inside my own body. and in return she gave me a daily reminder so i will never forget and take for granted what has happened.

    sometimes it sucks. especially around bathing suit season. but your child with be worth more than a perfect stomach and toned legs and butt. vain is something that we all are until we find something that matters more to us. for most women, it;s not their friends, family or career. even there boyfriends or husbands. it;s their CHILDREN!!! the only reason i am alive today is because of her. your child will save you in so many ways.

    don;t sorry about wanting a perfect body now. your idea of perfection will radically change. and every flaw you once saw in yourself, if you pass that same trait onto your child, it will no longer be a FLAW but absolute PERFECTION!!!

    fret not. you will understand soon. but don;t worry when you are 9 months pregnant and still don;t understand. it comes the moment your child is born and you hold them in your arms and heard their wonderful cry for the very first time. it;s a love and a peace that is so real it hurts. and all the pain in the world is worth that one moment of utter JOY!!! and you will never regret giving your body away for that piece of heaven you are holding in your arms.

    Good luck!!! i wish you happiness!! Welcome to the most wonderful of all callings!!!

  3. Mere Mortal Says:
    March 2nd, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    you will look normal. you’ll like like every mama who has ever grown, nourished, and birthed a baby.
    that’s what “normal” is.
    unfortunately, our culture doesn’t share these kinds of images openly, nor talk about them. that isn’t your fault, but unfortunately we pregnant women and mama’s are the ones who suffer because of the lack of real images and honest stories in this culture.
    we honor the scars and wounds of soldiers who have come from battle. don’t mothers – who have become warriors in their own right, in their own sacred battle – deserve the same honor and respect?
    also, you never know how your body will look and change. perhaps you won’t have any of the things you described, or perhaps only one of them instead of all of them combined.
    the truth is, how can we not expect our bodies to change after being expanded with the seed of life within our wombs?
    that said, i honor the fear within you now. go deeper and ask yourself what you are really afraid of…what meaning(s) the shape and image of your body holds for you…
    there will be no right answers.
    there will only be growth and wisdom.
    being pregnant, birthing, and becoming a mama take courage and surrender. after two, i am still learning both.
    and i’ve learned to embrace the body that grew them and brought them earthside.
    eat well, stay active, stay hydrated, connect with your baby, and enjoy the journey.
    love to you.

  4. Nikki Says:
    March 2nd, 2008 at 10:46 pm

    You know its funny that I just read something pertaining to your situation. Now this is all my opinion but My best advice, if you want it, is to truly believe that you won’t get them. Sounds crazy but I’m serious. It’s all about attitude, why are you preparing/predicting for the worst? It’s not going to do you or your baby any good fretting about looking different. Think and stay positive, have faith that either you can learn to accept and love your changes or that you won’t get them at all. if you are spiritual/religious then this further applies to you. God does favors don’t be afraid to ask, but you have to have faith that he will answer.
    **Even if you still get them, then take it as an act of love to get you to love your body in different forms.**
    I hope you don’t take my spiritual relevance as coming on strong, I know these days people are not quick to accept a religious point of view.

    Take Care

  5. Necole Says:
    March 3rd, 2008 at 6:30 am

    The poster who said that some women bounce right back is right. I’ve birthed 8 babies and you can’t even tell. No stretch marks and my stomach is as flat as before I had children. People are shocked when they find out I’ve had one child. I’ve also breastfed them and it really didn’t change my breasts, or nipple size. Aging is what what sent them South :>P

    Even if it does change your body, it is okay. Unfortunately, we live in a society where women are expected to look a certain way and never age, or change. That’s unfortunate and puts a lot of pressure on women.

  6. Krissy Poopyhands Says:
    March 3rd, 2008 at 6:54 am

    Ah, sweetie, but that’s the point.

    You are pregnant. What is about to happen to you physically will be profoundly changing, whatever the marks or lack of them on the outside.

    What society won’t tell you is that this change will be fundimental. Your clothes will fit differently, even if you wear the same size or smaller. The you you see in the mirror after having a baby will be a different you.

    Things will never be the same.

    It’s sometimes very hard to love the new person you see, even if she’s fit and gorgeous, because she’s a stranger. Even if you never get a single stretch mark you WILL be a stranger to yourself for a while.

    This site is every woman out there trying very hard to look in the mirror and understanding that the changes she sees aren’t a sign of some fundimental inner flaw. They aren’t punishment or failure. It’s simply what happens. Everyone gets it to a different degree, but pregnancy WILL change your body.

    You can either accept it or fight it. Certainly women throughout time have done both. The point is that now that you have a baby on the way it’s no longer up to you. You no longer get a say. Your body will do what it will do and your baby will be born and life changes.

    Being frightened is normal. It’s a frightening thing to be so utterly hijacked by something else.

    Hopefully it will also be the purest love you know, and ideally some of that love bomb that hits will be able to spill back onto your body for the work it did bringing that love into the world.

    Most of us are still working on the self-love. That’s why a place like this is important.

    I hope you become less afraid. I hope you feel good about yourself. I hope that everything you hope for comes true. Unfortunately whether or not you can deal is now completely and utterly irrelevant now.

    I hope your baby is born happy and healthy and wonderful.

    Peace.

  7. alexis Says:
    March 3rd, 2008 at 7:18 am

    Anon -
    I think your comment is a good opportunity to bring up the fact that being fit and healthy is great before you are pregnant but ESSENTIAL to being pregnant.
    There has been a lot of myth surrounding women, fitness and pregnancy. The old rule was to be extremely conservative, so runners were supposed to swim, swimmers walk, walkers thumb wrestle (I guess!). Weight lifting was completely out of the questions if you wanted to do anything beyond your grandmother’s rehabilitative soup-can curls and hiking should be done with a EMT team on call.
    But bold women knew better. Women were brave enough to accept that if their body felt up to it, they could do it. It makes sense, of course, because it was only in the last fifty years that women had the luxury of NOT participating in their life for nine months. Runners were running into their ninth month, swimmers were enjoying the exhilaration of their sport (and the support of the water) and hikers were utilizing their honed sense of balance on and off trails. Doctors were aghast but the babies were perfectly healthy – probably more healthy for it.
    I am not suggesting you strive start making personal records in track and field, but enjoy challenging your body like you are used to. Your baby will need more and more of your energy to grow – but you can provide it! Eat and rest more to get more energy. And, of course, make sure you are seeing a doctor who understands your desire to stay active, and to continue your usual way of life.
    Google pregnancy and exercise, get books, get educated. A lot of professional women athletes have written articles about their experience and they can be very inspiring.
    Of course your body will change but you don’t have to be a spectator. Be a part of the change! I think if your body is a priority before you are pregnant, there is no reason to feel as if you are “letting it go” when it is performing its most important task.
    Take care

  8. Linda Says:
    March 3rd, 2008 at 8:17 am

    It’s so hard, I know. It’s hard to even know where to begin. The thing is, you have to. You have to find a way to let go of being “perfect”, if you don’t want to spend your life feeling depressed and bad about your body. Because your body *will* change. If not with pregnancy, then with age. Come to terms with it now, for your sake. It involves a fast growing-up process, and that can be intense. But you deserve it, and so does your child.

    It can be done. And wow, it is freeing. I know it’s hard to believe now, but once you’ve learned to adjust your perceptions and priorities to be in harmony with your reality, you will be so much happier. Truly.

    If it were me, knowing what I do now, I would waste no time starting to learn to really love my body. Not what it can do for you, and not what you think other people want it to do for them, but as it *is*. When you have a child, you’re going to love that child no matter what it looks like. You need to allow yourself to have that same relationship with your self.

    It may also help to realize that what you regard as ugly is not objective truth. In a purely aesthetic sense, many people see stretch marks as beautiful. In other cultures, and among individuals in our own, flesh is considered enjoyable. And by that I mean *fat*. And despite what the media would have you believe in order to hate yourself enough to buy more products and services to fix yourself, many men and women appreciate a variety of shapes. For others it’s simply not an issue. I know a lot of men, trust me, who are perplexed by the obsession most women have with having flat stomachs, small thighs, and firm skin. They either have a different idea about what’s attractive, or they just honestly find it irrelevant.

    I’m 40 years old, and have gone through four pregnancies. I have cellulite, a round stomach, my breasts sag, and my skin is no longer smooth. But get this: I am more at ease in my body and I have a better sex life than I did at 20, when my body was much smaller and firmer.

    There is life beyond youth. Youth is overrated. Have hope. You will be okay.

  9. Katherine Says:
    March 3rd, 2008 at 8:30 am

    You are not a bad person – your fears are pretty normal, especially in our body-obsessed culture. Keep doing what you’re doing – exercising daily and eating healthful food. You exercise now. Keep it up every day of the pregnancy and you will have less edema and will probably not gain an excessive amount of weight; keeping fit will help you during labor and birth too. Look at the Brewer diet guidelines, which ensure your baby has optimal nutrition and helps guard against pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes, IUGR, and toxemia. You can find info. on it at http://www.blueribbonbaby.org It has great menu plans for pregnant omnivores, vegetarians, and vegans.

    My main advice: savor every day of your pregnancy, document your changing body, and enjoy the baby growing inside you.

    Oh yeah, and SLEEP while you can! After the baby comes, you will be too busy/tired to notice what your butt looks like. And, after the baby is mobile, whatever butt you have, don’t worry – you’ll be running it off chasing him or her.

  10. Jill Says:
    March 3rd, 2008 at 10:51 am

    Not everyone considers what you’d find on this site “unattractive.” In fact, just last night at work, a few male coworkers of mine were discussing how much they prefer “soft and squishy” women. One said, and I quote, “Would you want to touch a woman when she feels like your bicep?” while flexing his bicep to make it firm. These same guys were looking over my shoulder one afternoon while I was flipping through a sale paper advertising swimsuits, and said that they found the ONE plus-size model on the page sexier than the two dozen skinny models. Maybe it’s personal preference? Maybe it’s because she stood out in the sea of stick-thin girls? Maybe she looked healthier, happier, not like she could blow away in a strong wind?

    The challenge lies not in fighting off the natural way of things, but in changing your own perception of what is “pretty” or “ugly.” I suppose many people DO look at this site and cringe, because their idea of beauty is limited to the thin, tight, airbrushed models they see in magazines. That’s not an accurate representation of the average (beautiful!) woman, nor is it an accurate portrayal of what many people find sexy. It’s only one narrow facet of the spectrum, but unfortunately, it’s what’s seen as the “norm” with everything else deemed unworthy.

    Embrace your new body, but also strive to treat it right. Exercise, eat right, and most of all, love yourself. A woman who is healthy and confident is a thousand times sexier than a skinny girl who hates her body. Maybe that’s why the guys I work with find the “squishy” girls more attractive.

  11. Alicia Says:
    March 3rd, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    I’ve never commented before, but on this, I feel I need to.

    I feel exactly the same way, and I’m not even pregnant yet. When I came across this site, I was fairly certain I was pregnant. (I still am not sure if I was or not, I just had too many symptoms) I very nearly had a total breakdown upon looking at these pictures. In the course of an hour, I went from a happy, possible mother-to-be to deeply depressed and unable to function. I am a size 0, 5’1″, at a healthy weight of around 108. I work out 3 days a week, I eat pretty well, and I will admit it because I’m not ashamed of it anymore: I’m vain. And it’s not for society, it’s not for men, it’s for me. I have to spend the rest of my life in this body, and I’d like to spend at least the rest of my 20′s wearing a bikini to the pool. If that makes me a bad person, so be it.

    I was watching Lifetime a few weeks back and they commented that only 2% of women think they are beautiful. This poor woman feels so badly about actually caring about her appearance that she named her comment “I know I’m a bad person.” I don’t know about you, but I think that’s absolutely awful. There’s now a culture of women who look down on other women just for actually LIKING how they look. Wow, how things have changed.

    My poor fiance probably despises this site now. He has spent hours upon hours convincing me of how unlikely these things are to happen to me; coming up with everything he can to put my mind at ease. I would say it has helped very little. I know this site is intended to help women feel positive about their post-baby bodies; but I wonder how many women have reconsidered having children altogether because of it. I seriously think there needs to be a warning on the front page about how stressed out these pictures will make you feel if you haven’t already had a child. I tell all of my pregnant friends to avoid it at all costs, even if it means putting a parental block on your computer and having your significant other set the password.

    To repeat what my fiance has been trying to beat into my head, you are unlikely to get stretchmarks if you don’t have a family history of them and take good care of your skin. (Overall, medically-speaking your chances are about 50/50) The younger you are when you get pregnant, and the better you exercise, the more likely you are to “bounce back.” If you don’t breastfeed, (a controversial idea, I know, but there’s still people out there who don’t.) your breasts are less likely to sag. There ARE people out there who don’t look as bad as most do here; they just don’t feel a need to make a big deal out of it. My mother has no stretchmarks, and was only a little pudgey afterwards because she didn’t take the time to exercise. My sister-in-law-to-be has had two children and you can’t tell. AT ALL. Heck, there was a woman on Dr.Phil last week who had 6 kids (pregnant with her seventh) and you couldn’t tell. What you have to remember, and what I have to keep repeating to myself is I ever want children, is that these things DON’T happen to everyone. You DON’T need to prepare yourself for all of it; if you have any vanity at all, that’s pretty much impossible.

  12. Rae Says:
    March 3rd, 2008 at 6:50 pm

    If you are healthy and fit pre-pregnancy, and you remain healthy and fit during pregnancy, chances are good that you will bounce back, especially if you are young. I was 18 when I found out I was pregnant with my first child. I piled on 65lbs because I didn’t exercise and I “ate for two.” Also drink lots of water–it will help keep your skin hydrated so that it can stretch easily.

  13. Tanya Says:
    March 3rd, 2008 at 8:02 pm

    Give yourself time! :) It took me about 2 years to fall in love with my new body. There are moments I looked at my body with regret, not of having my beautiful son, but of losing who I thought I was. But, my body was nothing to do with who I was inside.

    I am real, and my body is real. I’m not perfect, and my body is not perfect. But, I AM beautiful, and my body is beautiful, too. I have a mother’s body, and that is something that I treasure. It’s a sacred thing.

    Don’t lose heart. As others have said, you may find that your body doesn’t change all that much anyways. But, if it does, you will eventually accept the new you, and learn to love her. It won’t happen right away. It doesn’t have to.

  14. Miranda Says:
    March 3rd, 2008 at 9:39 pm

    I don’t have much to add (its all been said!) except for be proud of your body.

    Looking at my baby girl I am amazed that she grew inside of me. She spent 39weeks inside of me and came out 7lbs 4oz, with eyes so beautiful. Yes I got stretch marks, I have more heartburn than I used to, and my pouch is more pronounced but I GAVE BIRTH! That is TREMENDOUS! HUGE!

    I don’t know what other advice to give you other than to take a look at what your body is doing.

    Good luck!

  15. chingona Says:
    March 3rd, 2008 at 10:23 pm

    Alicia,

    I understand where you are coming from, but I think you are missing the point of this site. I deliberately don’t share this site with friends until AFTER they have their babies because before you have kids, a lot of your self-image is wrapped up in how you look. That’s what our society tells women – that the thinner, more toned, whatever you are, the better you are. That’s why this site is so scary to some women. However, if you visit here regularly, you will see a huge variety of shapes and sizes. The point is that any and all of these outcomes are normal, and there isn’t anything “wrong” with any of us. You wrote that there is a culture of women that look down on other women for liking how they look. This site is about helping women get closer to liking how they look – no matter what they look like – not about looking down on thin, conventionally attractive women.

    For the record, I weigh less now than I did before I got pregnant. But those first months after my baby was born were a big shock to me. I only gained 30 pounds during my pregnancy (that’s the recommended amount, in case you don’t know), so I thought I would back in my old clothes in a few weeks. My mom had no stretch marks from having me and my brother, so I thought that I wouldn’t either. I felt really bad about how I looked when I had stretch marks and a big belly. This site helped me realize I was pretty normal.

    I did lose the weight without a ton of effort after about seven to eight months (breastfeeding helps you lose weight – it burns 500 calories a day) and I got a lot of compliments about how I looked and how quickly I lost the weight. The stretch marks faded. But I still have those marks, my belly-button looks strange, and the skin on my belly has a crepe-paper texture from having been stretched out. No amount of exercise or dieting will change those things. But I still like my body. This site helped me a lot with that.

    It’s nice of your fiance to try to reassure you and he may be right, but in the end, you don’t know until you actually go through it. By all means, take care of your skin, eat healthily and keep exercising. All those things are good for you no matter what. Rather than try to reassure yourself that because you care about how you look, you’ll come through unscathed, it would be better to remember that your self-worth is about more than your clothing size or how flat your stomach is.

  16. Mrs.H Says:
    March 4th, 2008 at 4:47 am

    My husband and I are currently trying for a baby and I feel the same way. You’re not a bad person, and you’re certainly not alone. I’m happy with my body as it is, and I’ve spent many nights stressing over how it will change as a result of pregnancy. My husband has to talk to me during those times and convince me that these things don’t happen to everyone. After reading the comments here, I’m starting to believe that. The best we can do is just take care of ourselves and not worry when there’s currently nothing to worry about.

  17. Laura Says:
    March 4th, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    Don’t worry. i’ve often thought of this site as a “misery loves company” type thing. Maybe i’m just lucky, i’m one of “those” women who bounced back immediately. I gained 38 lbs (130 to start, almost 170 at delivery), and @ my daughters one week appt. was wearing prepreggo clothes and just 135 lbs, now at 8 weeks post partum, can’t keep weight on and am @ 125. No stretch marks, breasts not too huge, and i’m no teenage mother (27). So don’t assume that these posted photos will be you…just work out now while you are preggo, and you’ll be fine (weight wise).

  18. Noelle Says:
    March 4th, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Anoymous and Alicia,

    I feel the same way both of you do. I am not pregnant nor do my husband and I plan on children for a few years but yet I find myself addicted to this site. I’ve never posted until now and I know I’m going to be read the riot act but others of you but I feel I need to throw my two cents in.

    I am 5’3, 110 lbs. I exercise regularly, eat well and am luckily, blessed with good genes. My mother has given birth four times, my grandmother three and neither of them had or have one stretch mark. Although I imagine having a child brings more joy than anything else in the world, I can’t help but think that because I’m physically fit and happy with my body now, I have more to loose than someone who’s unhappy with their body prior to pregnancy.

    I don’t believe having a baby and being pysically attractive should be (or need to be ) mutually exclusive. I think it’s wonderful when a woman is happy with her body whatever her size or shape. But I also don’t think those of us who want the flat tummy and perky breasts should be chastized for working for those things. The bottom line- having a “perfect” body post-baby takes work, probably more than it ever did before baby. You’re not going to bounce back is A.) you’re not in good shape prior to becoming pregant and B.) if you don’t take care of yourself after. I see women in my office and the junk the eat, the soda they drink and is it any wonder that they’re unhappy with how they look? People are willing to work at everything else in their lives- their education, their careers, their relationships…so why not their health too? If you don’t exercise and you don’t eat well, you’re not only going to be unhappy with the way your body looks, you’re going to be unhealthy. Period.

    I look at the women on this site who have “bounced back” as inspiration. I everyone here for giving birth to such beautiful children and hope they all grow up happy and healthy. But there is NOTHING wrong with wanting to be sexy and thin and fit after having a baby. Being scared of loosing our bodies that we’ve worked so hard to acheive will make us no less mothers. We’ll love our children, bust our butts at the gym, skip the chocolate cake and tote our babies and bikinis to the beach in July.

  19. Leigh Says:
    March 4th, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    There have been a lot of comments here already, but I’ll weigh in also: although I’ve returned to my pre-pregnancy weight, my body does not the way it did before. However, since I became a mother, the inside of me has grown so kind, loving, and compassionate, that I truly am more beautiful than before.

  20. KJ Says:
    March 4th, 2008 at 7:57 pm

    Good. :-) Fear is the first step in CHANGE.

    You are not a bad person. You are a changing person. And you have the opportunity to decide whether or not you buy into the lies about women’s bodies and what is “beautiful” and what is not…. or you can choose a different path.

    I too, truly believed that how my body looked was so important that I would get physically ill thinking about childbearing, ageing etc. I bought into the cultural lie that I could stave off such “evils” by exercise, diet, etc. That I was a WONDERFUL person for doing so, and those fat lazy slobs were missing out.

    For me, it was all about control. Controlling my body to look the way *I* had been conditioned (I could say brainwashed, even) to believe it should look. Baaaaaa. I was one of those sheeple that didn’t bother to question what the magazines had taught me. And probably I took those control issues into my birth (which you cannot control) and my mothering (which um, dude…. once you have a kid you’ll know.. it will CHANGE you. For. The. Better.)

    Becoming a mother taught me to let go of the idea I can control everything in life. And it also changed me from frankly, a self-centered selfish bitch, to a real woman. My husband appreciates the difference. I’m sure the world around me does too. And not because of flat abs.

    Not sure any of this will get through… but probably typing this was more for me to express my journey. Thanks for listening.

  21. bonnie Says:
    March 4th, 2008 at 10:14 pm

    I’m going to close the comments to this entry now because I think there are many viewpoints expressed here and I’m terrified of feelings getting hurt – mine already have been – I hardly think this site is a case of “misery loving company” and I certainly do not feel “miserable”… although I will admit it’s likely not an accurate sample of society in terms of ratios of stretchmarked to none shown here… Is that a run-on sentence? That’s what I get for drinking caffeine at night!!)

    Anyway, I want to beg everyone to step outside yourselves for a minute and just imagine that you might not know the full story behind another person’s life. People who are overweight are not always unhealthy. People who are thin do not always starve themselves. Women who bounce back do not always excercise, and women whose bodies show changes are not necessarily lazy. Let us stand together as women, not drive each other apart.

    Peace.


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