My biggest body-related fear once I became pregnant was stretch marks. I oiled and lotioned my belly as often as I could. I was hopeful that I’d escape stretch marks altogether because my mother never got one throughout her six pregnancies. And I almost made it. Around 37 weeks they started to appear. A few purplish-red marks below my belly button. I slathered on the vitamin e oil, as if it wasn’t too late. My husband came home that day and I told him “I think I’m getting stretch marks” and burst into tears. Why did I care so much?
Then it got worse. The marks spread upward and outward until my belly was covered. And I got smaller ones on the sides of my stomach/waist as well. I felt helpless. There was nothing I could do to stop them, and my belly was still growing. I started Googling tips and tricks until I couldn’t stand to look at the computer screen for another second.
Up until that point I had loved my pregnant belly. It was nice and round and beautiful. Now I wouldn’t even let my husband see it, let alone look at it myself.
My beautiful baby boy was born a few weeks later and I couldn’t bear to look at my stomach in the mirror in the days that followed. When I finally did get a glimpse, the stretch marks had become all loose and saggy, and seemed to cover even more of me now that my stomach had shrunken down.
It makes me so mad. Mad that there was nothing I could do to stop it. Mad that so many women seem to get through pregnancy without getting any. Most of all, mad that I cared so much about what I looked like. After all, I had a beautiful, healthy baby – something I had always, always wanted – so what should I have to complain about?
Don’t get me wrong. He is absolutely worth it. I don’t even really associate my baby with my new body. He is this perfect, wonderful gift that has made my life better in every way. I just feel like my body has somehow failed me.
Almost 3 months later, and it’s not any better. My stomach is still covered in dark stretch marks. And it doesn’t stop there. My breasts – which I used to love – are now big and saggy, and my stomach is loose and jiggly. Despite the fact that by my 6-week post-partum checkup I was back to my pre-pregnacy weight, my body is nowhere near what it used to be. My clothes all look weird and unflattering. I had thought that losing the weight would be the hard part. No, the hard part is realizing that my body, regardless of how much weight I lose, will never, ever be the same. And I just don’t know if I’ll ever be happy with it again. I can’t even fathom ever putting on the bikini I wore on my honeymoon just over a year ago.
My husband still tells me that I’m beautiful and sexy, and I love him for it, but I simply can’t believe him. I don’t think he’s even seen me naked since I gave birth – if he has, it was by accident. It’s hard to want to be intimate with him when I’m so unhappy with how I look. Not just unhappy, but actually embarrassed. I’m embarrassed about my body.
I guess what really bothers me is that I feel like I can’t do anything to fix it. I’m 26 and I feel like my body is ruined forever. And what about my next pregnancy – will it get even worse? That scares me too.
Until then I continue to do sit-ups, watch what I eat, and buy all those expensive stretch mark creams. Still waiting for it to somehow get better…
#1 – pre-pregnancy
#2 – 40 weeks pregnant
#3&4 – just under 3 months post-partum
~Number of pregnancies and births: 1
~The age of your children, or how far postpartum you are: 3 months