I got pregnant young; I guess not as young as some mothers I know, but 18 is still a child in my mind. I was ready though. I had been forced to grow up quickly because of home-life circumstances. When I got pregnant I was a nice 120 pounds. I had a nice taught and tanned body. My breasts were perfect perky size C orbs. I am only 5’3″, so I am by no means a big girl. I have never thought of myself as petite, but I have been told by many people that I am. So there you go.
I gave birth to my son in October of 2004. I was then 19 years old. Who knew I would grow such a large child! My son stretched me beyond capacity. I applied vitamin E directly. It was sticky oil I applied all over my body three times per day. Palmer’s pregnancy butter was a favorite as well. I thought I was doing it right. I knew I would be one of those women that bounce back; you know with no signs of a child on my body. I knew I would breastfeed. There was no other option; that is what your breasts are for. When I was about six months pregnant, I couldn’t see my feet, or the underside of my belly obviously, and my aunt burst my bubble by notifying me I had several large red stretch marks creeping and crawling up my protruding belly. I was devastated. I put on even more products daily to help to avoid them becoming any worse. No use. My son was very large. I was not able to birth him because he was stuck in my pelvis. I am small, he is large; go figure. I had to undergo a cesarean birth after eleven hours of labor. I was so upset. The recovery process alone was almost enough to make me want to avoid another pregnancy, EVER. He was born at 9 pounds 4 ounces and was 22 inches. My breasts grew from the small C to a DD almost larger. I produced more milk than my son even needed. I then wore not a size five jeans but a size ten. That was a little disheartening. My belly was nothing but a stretched out balloon of hanging skin. I finally began referring to it as the road map of California; I mean with all the stretch marks crossing and meandering in and out with each other all over my abdomen, it resembled the complex road systems of a large state like California. My husband at the time still found me attractive and beautiful, but I did not. When my son weaned at ten months I gained even more weight because I continued to eat as though I was breastfeeding. I finally peaked at a size 14 and knew, for my own peace of mind, I needed to lose some weight. God bless South Beach!
My marriage failed. When my son was two I found myself a single mother. I met my second husband when my son was three. He loved my body. I thought he was crazy. I had completely saggy and deflated breasts. While I was back to a size 5, my belly never saw the light of day again. It was an embarrassing representation of what my son had done to my body. I had also discovered I had stretch marks in my vaginal area and on my pubis. How nice and attractive. Even though my body was a beaten and battered leftover of my teenage self, my husband praised it telling me I was a woman. I started to feel comfortable in my own skin.
I became pregnant when I was 24 with my second child; a girl this time. I was so happy. Even though I had thought I would never go through that process of pregnancy again, my husband had made me feel confident and comfortable with the idea. My doctor assured me the baby would be large again. I dreaded the C-section. My husband was actually upset because of the scheduled C-section. He has previous children, and none of them were born this way. He couldn’t understand. Needless to say, I felt less than adequate because of this. In any case, regardless, I was pregnant and would deliver with or without a scar. My doctor encouraged and even recommended a VBAC. So, of course my husband was excited. I was too, because I wanted the chance to birth a child naturally. Because this baby was a girl she was not as big; but still large anyhow. I gave birth to her vaginally in September of 2010. The circumstances surrounding her birth were very trying and miserable. I found out my husband was having an affair the day before I delivered. To make it even worse, the woman, he was in love with, was pregnant by about 15 weeks. It was extremely emotionally draining. Even though the situation was terrible, I welcomed my daughter at 8 pounds 15 ounces and 21 1/2 inches. She was beautiful. No extra stretch marks; my son had paved the way. She tore me though and so my vagina had to be “reconstructed for cosmetic purposes, mostly.” Because of the stress of my marriage, and breastfeeding to boot, I was down to my pre-pregnancy weight in a matter of about 10 days. My breasts were not as large; only a D cup from the C; I produced just enough milk.
My husband and I attempted to reconcile on more than one occasion. From the time of my daughter’s birth until now, we have tried at least six times. We even discussed and attempted to get pregnant a couple of times with no success. I always felt it was probably for the best. However, during a weak moment while visiting him, I became pregnant for the third time.
Currently, I am 29 weeks with another daughter by my husband. This will make my two girls only 20 months apart. I was roughly a size 5/6 and at 130 pounds when this pregnancy surprised me. My breasts are again filling with milk and only one cup size bigger. I will welcome her in July of this year.
I have learned to love my body through the processes of pregnancy and postpartum. I am a woman. Regardless the number of women I know who have had multiple pregnancies and have no stretch marks, I do, and I cannot change it. My road map adds character. I can look at my leather-like belly and smile knowing I produced three beautiful children. Now that I am again a single mother with my third miracle on the way, I can appreciate the fact that I was able to grow and protect such a perfect being inside my body; my breasts, those deflated leftovers of a time passed, nourished them and gave them the gifts God intended. While I will ensure I am back at a healthy weight after the birth of this daughter, I will not kill myself attempting to look modelesque. I am perfect in my own skin. I am a woman and I am a mother. There is nothing better than knowing I am able to work my body the way God intended. Here is to the woman; the vessel of one of life’s most amazing blessings and miracles. Embrace your body and love yourself. If you cannot, who can?