A body marked indelibly with love (Laurie)

I had my first child at 21 years of age. I was previously a teenager who had the constant belief that I was fat, and obsessed over my body daily. As my body grew with pregnancy (and fluid retention!) I became very despondent about my shape, worrying that I would be ‘fat’ and forever unattractive. I also came to the realisation that my pre-baby body was actually very thin and lovely. I had never had the confidence to wear a bikini before, and when pregnant, realised I could have worn one easily! So I mourned for the youthful body I didn’t appreciate, but in the back of my mind, I was sure that I would have that body back after the pregnancy. Don’t the magazines say that you do if you eat right an exercise?

Then, I got stretch marks right the way across my belly, from side to side, and an abdominal muscle separation that caused my belly button and the area surrounding it to have a caved-in appearance (post baby). After my daughter was born, I couldn’t undress in front of my husband anymore, with shame.
Then, (after I had gotten back to pre-pregnancy weight at around 1 year post-partum), I was disturbed by the amount of comments I gained from women who had never had children about my body. How I looked good ‘for someone who’d had a baby’, or how flat my tummy was (they didn’t see the boob-high support underwear I was wearing under my clothes!) etc, and I began to feel indignant about the pressure I then felt to suck my tummy in all the time, because I knew women were looking. Then I felt bad that I was perpetuating the image that women should appear ‘untouched’ by their pregnancy, and I wished for the confidence to ditch the support undies and feel comfortable in my saggy skin. I became indignant about the unrealistic image of what a woman ‘should’ be, post-baby. I have now become proud of my stretch marks, and can truthfully say that I love my body so much more now than I ever did when it was more youthful. :)

My age: 23
Number of pregnancies and births: 1, 1

The pics!
14 weeks
40 weeks
demonstrating the stretch marks and squish-a-bility, 9 months later!

12 thoughts on “A body marked indelibly with love (Laurie)

  • Friday, August 7, 2009 at 10:21 am

    I LOVE LOVE that pic of your daughter squeezing your belly! I think your attitude is so uplifting and refreshing! Congrats momma! :)

  • Friday, August 7, 2009 at 11:17 am

    You look great! And my daughter loves to grab my soft belly too!

  • Friday, August 7, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    Hey! You and I are pretty similar looking (look out for my future post “Michaela Marks”). I think you look really great!

    I was at the beach yesterday and, after about an hour, I realized that for the first time in my life, I wasn’t jealous of the perfect, toned, unstretched bodies around me. I truly had no pangs of jealousy or regrets about my own body. In fact, I thought, “these girls look really cute in their bikinis … good for them”!

    I felt like I held a secret that no one else there knew … a secret that only a mother could know after her body has been transformed by pregnancy. I felt like I had moved beyond all the narcassitic, self conscious nonsense about what my body “should” look like.

    Then … on the way back I saw this really cool, young, beautiful woman … probably about your age … strolling her baby along, bare mid-drift, short shorts, long blond dredlocks. She looked so full of life! She looked like she was gleaming with happiness.

    Then as I got closer … I noticed the familiar, slighty strectched, slighty saggy skin around her stomach. I thought, “Wow … she is so beautiful, unique and sexy”. I also hope to exude the same confidence and happiness in my post pregnancy body someday – hopefully very soon!

    It’s the first time that happened to me. This site has really helped me get to that point.

    I think you look wonderful too and find inspiration in your confidence. You’ve helped me take another step towards total self acceptance. If I can look at you and think, “man … she’s lovely”! Why can’t I do the same for myself??

    Thank you for sharing your story and pics!

  • Friday, August 7, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    That last picture is too perfect! Love it!

  • Saturday, August 8, 2009 at 1:17 am

    you look good girl.
    The last picture made me giggle,my stomach is just the same. My daughter absolutely loves using me as her pillow, “you are so soft and cuddly mom!” and both my kids used to do what your little one did. Just to grab my tummy and see how much skin that follows ^^
    You are beautiful , you’re a mom.

  • Saturday, August 8, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    You look really great, and your tattoo even surivived the ride :) I adore the last photo! My daughter loves my tummy too, despite (or perhaps because of?) the fact there is a lot more than a handful available for squishing ;)

  • Sunday, August 9, 2009 at 7:58 pm

    i love ur pics.. ur a very beautiful woman..

  • Monday, August 17, 2009 at 12:19 am

    I have looked at many websites such as this and read many postings, but I have never commented until now. I just had to tell you that your comment about being sick of feeling like you had to maintain an image of being “untouched” by pregnancy really hit home. I have been struggling with body anxiety for my entire pregnancy, and have myself said several times that I can deal with everything that’s happening, as long as it “goes back to normal”. Your comment really got me to think about how unrealistic that is! Most of my friends have come through pregnancy with few or any lasting body changes, and I’ve been afraid that I won’t live up to the same standard! Even though I am 10 years older than you, your comment really hit home. I’ve been secretly terrified of changing and too scared of appearing vain to admit to my fear. I have an amazing husband, but have actually been much more concerned with how I would measure up to other mothers’ bodies. Thank you so much for your post. You are a gorgeous woman and the picture of your daughter grabbing your tummy must be the cutest thing I’ve ever seen! I can almost hear her saying, “I was made in there!” Thanks again, and I hope you teach your daughter to have your outlook.

  • Monday, August 17, 2009 at 10:38 pm

    omg the last pic is sooooo adorable. and you look great during pregnancy. god was kind to you. (jealous) lol.

  • Tuesday, August 18, 2009 at 7:20 am

    I must say I love the last picture. It brings everything full circle.

  • Tuesday, September 1, 2009 at 8:48 am

    Hi! See that woman there? She’s my sister! She’ll be embarrassed to know that I’ve posted, but I absolutely have to say how proud I am of her. I’m frightened of having a child myself, but it’s seeing her every day and how lovely her daughter is that reminds me how it’s all worthwhile. The fact that her body has changed into but she’s actually gotten more confident in herself is wonderful. It her outlook that makes me want to have a child; so I can look at myself in a new light and have a beautiful baby (or more!) and the same time! To be able to say “Wow. Look at me and how I’ve grown in myself” and also be able to show joy in sharing it, too. Thank you, Laurie!

  • Friday, September 4, 2009 at 8:42 am

    Hey, you EARNED those stretch marks! I like your attitude and I can tell you’ll be passing that healthy attitude about your body on to your daughter. I have three myself, so I think it’s so important that they don’t have to look in the mirror and criticize what they see. At least, I hope they’re not getting that from me — I try very hard not to impart that. Check out Love Your Body, Love Your Life by Sarah Maria for more insights into body image and positive body image. It’s for anyone who struggles with thier weight and appearance, and insecurities over them. She has a five-step process to help people learn to create bodies — and then lives — that they love. It will help you feel great about your body, no matter what it looks like — and will help you stop OBSESSING over it. It’s got a spiritual feel I really like.

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