Number of pregnancies: Seven pregnancies, two successful
The age of my children: 2 aged 4, 1 aged 2, and 1 on the way
When expecting our first baby I remember going to my 20 week ultrasound in my regular pants. I couldn’t wait to start looking pregnant. After two years of trying, and waiting, we were finally on our way to having a baby light our house with his or her own brand of sunshine and happiness. I delighted in my pregnancy, I consciously thought out my meals, so they were balanced, I took my vitamins, exercised lightly, and, all in all, had the perfect pregnancy. At the end of my pregnancy I had gained 25 lbs and didn’t have a single stretch mark. I should have been the world’s happiest woman, except I wasn’t. Our Kate died just before she was born; our delivery room was silent when she arrived.
A week after she was born my body made that amazing Hollywood like change that would have left one guessing whether I was ever actually pregnant. I was so sad. I had absolutely nothing to show for my pregnancy. People would later tell me “Don’t tell people that you made out so well, other women will hate you with jealousy” Who ever thought it would be me jealous of those who’s pregnancies left their bodies transformed? I longed for one stretch mark to prove she had actually existed, just one tiny one. My tummy only showed signs of the baby within for a few days. The comments that, at least, I looked great at the funeral where a slap in the face, really is that what you chose to say, did I really look great?
The truth is we’re all made up of different genetic material. I went on to have twins and another singleton, and amazingly enough I still have no stretch marks. I ate no special diet and slathered no expensive creams on my belly. My body springs back quite quickly, with no miracle exercise regime. I’m lucky, I guess. Nursing three babies exclusively (yep you can nurse twins and never have to supplement, women you are equipped and powerful) have left my, never were A cups, in somewhat dismal shape. My hips have always been a bit on the largish side leaving my upper body super out of proportion. I don’t love the way I look, but it’s how I’ve been remolded.
Some of us will go to accept, and eventually love our bodies, others will not, opting instead to change the outside to better live in their skins. Instead of either group working to make the other one feel bad, or less valuable. Let’s open our eyes to the bigger transformation, the one that takes no physical form, the metamorphosis we make from women to mothers. I love watching my friends embark on the journey of pregnancy and motherhood. I fascinate at the changes these women are able to make within their character to make way for a new being. This is our biggest change, and it is our most remarkable undertaking. No matter who we are on the outside, we all want the same thing for our children, room to grow, happiness, and love. How we provide that, is as diverse as our physical appearance.
I know now that no mark would make Katie more remembered, she lives within me, my husband, and my children. I have grown as a mother in many challenging ways starting with stillbirth, then having a son who works harder than most to overcome Autism, and it’s many challenges to him and to our family, also by having two other little girls who are seeking to find their roles and carve out their spots in our family, and by the three other early losses all at varying times in my life. Pregnant again, I wonder, if there is any room left for me to grow, but I know the growth of a mother is ever expandable. I wear my stretch marks on my heart, you can’t see them with your eyes, but ask me to show them to you, and I will share the stories that have changed my shape in seemingly impossible ways.
Embrace yourself as a mother, whether able to stand naked in front of a mirror boldly and love yourself, or as a woman who feels more comfortable undressing with the curtains tightly closed with the lights off, and do not forget to embrace other mothers whether they share your sense of self or not.
Holding Katie’s hand