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Seeing the Beauty in My Body (Joanna)

April 4, 2013

Your Age: 22
Number of pregnancies and births: 1
The age of your children, or how far postpartum you are: 3 months

I got pregnant when I was 21 years old. Not a teen mother, but still young enough to get the occasional stare. My pregnancy was perfect as far as the doctors said, however, psychologically I was a wreck. I have never been a skinny girl, but I was never “overweight” either. But I was absolutely terrified of gaining weight. Every single pound I gained felt like a dagger. I dreaded hopping up on the scale at my weekly OBGYN appointments. I even ended up counting calories, and refused to eat anything besides salad, toast, and the occasional bowl of cereal. I still managed to gain 45 pounds. I came across this site when I googled “pregnant and depressed about weight gain”, and to be honest, it terrified me even more. Seeing what women look like post-partum just made me feel worse. For some reason, I felt like my body defined who I was. I ended up getting my first stretch marks around 28 weeks. Again, I was stressing and obsessing over my appearance. I felt horrible. I refused to look in a mirror and would even tell my boyfriend to “shut up” when he tried to call me beautiful.

I gave birth to my daughter at 39 weeks and 3 days on December 18th, 2012. She was 7 pounds 15 ounces and absolutely beautiful. However, I didn’t get the immediate bond that I constantly heard mothers talk about. I was shell-shocked. I went from being a 21 year old girl to a mother in hours. I couldn’t take it all in. I remember spending my first night in the hospital crying because I was terrified of this little human being that I was now responsible for. I didn’t change a single diaper during my stay at the hospital, didn’t give her a bath, didn’t cuddle with her. I would simply breastfeed her and hand her to visitors or her father. My brain wasn’t able to process what was happening. The day we came home from the hospital I was terrified. I didn’t know what to do. I was in pure survival-mode (for myself AND my daughter), and I ended up losing 25 pounds in 2 weeks because I was so depressed and STILL in shock that I would literally forget to eat. I was slowly slipping into postpartum depression. Add hormones and sleep deprivation to the mix and I was a wreck. I cried every chance I got. I felt as if my life was over. My stomach was saggy and loose and covered with stretch marks. I felt disgusting

It wasn’t until my daughter was about 2 months old that I began to feel better. She became more interactive, she started smiling when she saw me, and I fell in love. My body was slowly turning back to normal. I remember hearing women say that once your baby’s born you won’t care about the stretch marks as much. I understand what they meant now. These marks represent everything I went through and my own personal battles. They represent the love I have for my daughter. They represent everything a mother is about. Sacrificing (in this case, your body and beauty) for your children. Looking back at my pregnancy, I really wish I enjoyed it more. I now realize there are few things more beautiful than a pregnant woman and a mother. You are carrying and growing a LIFE inside of you. What can possibly be more beautiful than that?

I have a new-found respect for mothers. All mothers. Single, married, young, and old. You are absolutely amazing. You are beautiful in my eyes. If you’re worried about your stretch marks, just remember what they stand for. If you are worried they will make you less attractive to your significant other, don’t be. If he/she truly loves you, they will see the beauty in them. If you’re pregnant right now and feeling ugly, fat, or unattractive, just remember that you’re doing something amazing. You have life inside of you.

I just want to end this by saying that whether you’re pregnant or you’re in the postpartum stage, embrace your body and appreciate it for bringing life into this world. You are beautiful. We are all beautiful.

The first photo is me before I got pregnant.
Second and third are me at 38 weeks pregnant.
Forth, fifth and sixth are me 3 months postpartum.
The last four are of my daughter

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5 Responses to “Seeing the Beauty in My Body (Joanna)”

  1. Megan Says:
    April 4th, 2013 at 11:21 am

    Thank you for this. I am 39 weeks and 1 day pregnant with my first child and the stretch marks just showed up about three weeks ago. At first it was just one little mark above my belly button…”I can live with that” I thought. Now my stomach is covered in these horrible red marks and I’m so depressed. I actually cried about it yesterday, I feel so ugly. I’ve gained 45 lbs…more than I thought I would and I’m dreading coming home from the hospital with a saggy pouch. Your kind words made me feel a little better and little less scared and I hope I can find the beauty and confidence in my body the same way that you have. I think you are beautiful!

  2. amber H Says:
    April 5th, 2013 at 9:30 am

    You look amazing and it will get better with time!

  3. Mark Says:
    April 6th, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    There is nothing but beauty in your body. I hope you always see this.

  4. Erin Says:
    April 8th, 2013 at 10:38 am

    You look great and have a beautiful attitude! I know how scary it can be to have a child young, I am 24 with a 1 1/2 year old! I wish we saw regular bodies (mothers or not) more. It would make the changes easier I think if we thought of stretch marks as beautiful instead of strange and ugly.

  5. Heather Says:
    January 24th, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    This made me tear up. I’m on my first pregnancy and have had a really difficult time watching the number on the scale go up after so many years of trying everything in my power to make that number go down. I’m trying my best to see the beauty in what it means and what the result will be…thank you for sharing your story!

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