I never thought I would be on this site because becoming a mother had once seemed an impossibility to me. I was raped my a trusted family member at 14. I lost half of my family because it was too painful and shameful for them. From that point on, my body meant nothing to me but pain. I was tormented by that. I lost all sense of self worth and boundaries for my body and let people continue to use and abuse me. Even though I essentially gave them permission, it was in direct violation to everything I should’ve been, deserved to be. i never knew I deserved better. I clung to my petite figure and self image because i thought all i had to offer was the beauty of my external self. Then everything changed. I met someone who revealed to me the beauty of my inner self. We got married and the longing for a child burned within us. I yearned for such a gift but was holding myself back because of all of my past abuse. I knew that pregnancy would make me confront some very powerful and brutal truths ( I would have to learn to relate to my body in a completely new and intimate way) and I didn’t know if my heart and body could handle it. I prayed for the strength to let the walls come down and we decided to try for a baby. we went through 18 months of uncertainty and were told we may not conceive. It was so very painful and I felt “What good has my body ever been to me?” Then God wove together a chain of incredible events that changed my life forever. I broke down and cried out for help. a couple months later, my husband and I met a couple whom we eerily shared much in common with. they, too, had been trying to conceive a child and were told the odds were stacked against them.. they had been trying for five years. But only four months after our meeting.. we both found out we were expecting. we were six weeks apart and if everything wasn’t miraculous enough.. we would come to find that we were both expecting little girls. nine months later, out of my deepest pain, my body, my spirit and my soul triumphed and I gave birth to my precious baby girl. I am so deeply moved by the sight of my child that sometimes it brings me to tears. even though she is my gift, i have to admit that the body i hid behind for so long.. trying to keep it as my perfect little mask.. i can no longer hide behind. sometimes i feel so vulnerable and disfigured at the sight of my postpartum body. my breasts are no longer smooth but the skin on them puckered and saggy feeling with the grooves of stretch marks spread across them. my butt is covered in stretch marks as are my upper thighs. i cried the first time i saw myself after the birth. my biggest embarassment are my stretch marks. i only gained 35 pounds but i still got them. my greatest comfort is the realization that, as mothers, our bodies are nothing to be ashamed of but celebrated for our womb was a garden where the life of our child bloomed and that is what makes us beautiful.