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The LifeHouse (Tanya)

I was once a naked canvas. My skin was untouched, smooth and that is what I thought beauty was.

My body yearned to hold life within it, and at the tender age of 18 I was granted that wish.

I saw only beauty in my pregnancy. My body was like a mound of clay; and by the hands of God it was being molded into a sanctuary for a life to grow within its walls.

No longer did I have my defined ballerina body, instead it became wide, soft and chubby. My stretch marks were never a shame or a burden at that time. To me, they were like rose colored ivy weaving and dancing up and down my body; proof that my body was willing to heal after the pulling and stretching of my skin. Yes, they were different, and up until then, I never knew stretch marks existed. All I wanted was a happy and healthy baby, my body now was no longer my own.

It wasn’t until I gave birth that they became a horrific stain upon my life…

I went to the hospital in minor labor only to find out that my precious baby was being strangled by the umbilical cord. He was a strong boy right from the start; on the ultrasound it showed that he was actually trying to pull the cord off his neck, but it was only a matter of time. It was decided that I was to have an immediate c-section. My husband and I were terrified and confused, but hopeful.

As they were preparing me for surgery, one of the nurses blurted out ” Look at all those stretch marks, I never seen that many before”…My mind froze upon her words and immediate shame came upon me. I felt disgusting about myself, why did I let this happen to me.

Thank God that my son was born healthy and happy, despite being a tiny little thing ( 5 pounds, 6 ounces), he was perfect and I forgot about my body. It wasn’t until a month later that I started looking at myself again.

No longer did I hold life, instead I had a horrible bulge and what seemed like deep stretches of shame tattooed all over me. I felt so ugly, and I refused to let anyone( my husband) included see me naked. Why me? There were tons of women like my mother who didn’t have one stretch mark on their bodies, yet I had thousands. No more bathing suits, no more sexy clothes, no more beauty.

The mirror became my truth and my pain. I had to look into ten or more times a day. I would scrub my body over and over again,and I tried everything out on the market to get rid of them. I was so afraid of getting more.

Trying to feel comfortable in my own skin, I would study women like crazy, always trying to find their flaws..and if I knew they had children, I needed to know if they too bore the marks.

I was angry, I was crazy. I was wasting away my life.

Now I have come to terms with them. At times they bother me, but I love them all the same.

It makes my heart melt when my son runs his hands over them and tells me with true honesty that I am beautiful. Yes, I am far from flawless, but I am now truly one with the world . For I like the earth hold the marks of the life I keep. I am no longer the young maiden, so pure; I am the warrior mother, whose armor tells a story of true love.





Updated here.

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19 comments… add one
  • Lil Monday, March 19, 2007, 6:33 pm

    Being a mother myself, I know about the physical scars our life giving body endures…

    I just want to send you a *hug*…and to let you know that you’ve got the right perspective about your belly…and I’m sure with each love touch you receive you’ll be able to love it wholey once again!

    Peace of heart to you,
    Lil

  • Amy Monday, March 19, 2007, 6:43 pm

    My niece calls stretch marks “birth stripes”. I think that’s a much better name. :)

  • Victoria Monday, March 19, 2007, 7:24 pm

    There’s my belly – minus tattoos and stretchmarks, but same shape and size :)

  • Anna Tuesday, March 20, 2007, 5:04 am

    “I am no longer the young maiden, so pure; I am the warrior mother, whose armor tells a story of true love”.

    Thank you for giving my feelings their form in words.

  • Mama 4 Tuesday, March 20, 2007, 6:11 am

    As the mother of 4, I share much of your experience: the doubt, the anger, and wonderfully and finally, the beauty of acceptance.Thank you for this essays. It has reminded me why I must remember to celebrate each mark left by a pregnancy and birth. You are a wonderful writer!

  • Catherine Tuesday, March 20, 2007, 6:43 am

    You write so well and have summed up the feelings of million of mothers…how sad that we have to hit rock bottom before surfacing again. You look GREAT…and your son is one cool guy! Catherine

  • intensity_too Tuesday, March 20, 2007, 7:54 am

    Thi brought tears to my eyes.

  • Tanya ( the poster) Tuesday, March 20, 2007, 8:40 am

    Thank you for all your lovely comments. This has truly helped me come to terms with who I am.

    Today I am proud to say that I will be expecting baby #2, and I will definately be posting more pictures when I start to show.

  • Kim Tuesday, March 20, 2007, 12:29 pm

    My stomach looks just like yours- stretch marks far past my belly button. I am still ashamed of them too–

    You are beautiful and a wonderful writer!

  • Kelly Wednesday, March 21, 2007, 9:35 am

    What a great post. I feel the same way you did. Like you, I got tons of stretch marks all up my stomach. I have yet to accept them, nor have I accepted my flabby belly. I hope someday I can though.

  • Stephanie Wednesday, March 21, 2007, 4:17 pm

    Your entry was beautiful. It made me cry. I just had a baby 6 weeks ago and I feel proud of the stretch marks I now have.

  • s Saturday, March 24, 2007, 5:10 pm

    You are beautiful. Your body is beautiful. And your words are beautiful.

    Fabulous.

  • Ash Monday, March 26, 2007, 7:02 pm

    “Yes, I am far from flawless, but I am now truly one with the world . For I like the earth hold the marks of the life I keep. I am no longer the young maiden, so pure; I am the warrior mother, whose armor tells a story of true love.”
    That, Tanya, has got to be one of the most beautiful things i’ve ever heard!
    I can relate very much to your story, and thank you for posting this.

  • Kristy Tuesday, March 27, 2007, 3:45 pm

    I can’t believe a midwife would say a thing like that… ridiculous… i look very much like you (only with a bit more excess fat)… Very unprofessional, and obviously not an experienced midwife if she hasn’t seen stretch marks like ours before… I have’t come to terms completely yet, but I am slowly coming the realisation that it’s not just going to dissappear one day.

  • catherine smitko Monday, April 2, 2007, 2:43 pm

    thank you.

  • Raine Wednesday, April 25, 2007, 10:19 pm

    How beautifully you write. For you summed up the quintessential feelings of all mothers whose bodies bear the physical testament of our labor of love. I only gained 30 lbs, but I am 5’2″ and my dear daughter was a hefty little one. During my 8th and 9th month, I was CONSTANTLY asked if I was having twins…one woman even went so far to ask me if I was sure when I told her “no”. You can bet that my stomach is riddled with the “marks of life” (and OH! how painful they were as my stomach stretched!!). I am gradually loving them more as each day passes. I will bookmark your passage, so that I can return to it again and again.

    Love to you from one mother to another…

  • Jessica Sunday, July 1, 2007, 12:02 pm

    That is so sad. That nurse should NOT have said something like that. Hopefully when she has a baby she will remember what she told you and get it back three-fold.
    This must have really upset you I can imagine. I showed off my little 3rd baby bump to some girls who had never had a baby before and one of the girls said “Yeah it is cute but it is kind of ugly because of the stretch marks.” Talk about a self esteem raise huh!
    You are beautiful.

  • Stacie Monday, March 24, 2008, 3:50 am

    That nurse was a moron! If I were you, after my birth, I would have put her in her place.

    What kind of an idiot says that to someone who is giving birth? A difficult birth no less!

    It’s ridiculous, personal comments like that that are burned into our subconscious and make acceptance of ourselves so much harder.

    If I were you – even now, I would let her know how much her comment hurt and recommend to her that, in the furture, she keeps her negative comments to herself. I’d also contact her line managers and let them know that she needs to be sent on some sensitivity courses. Or maybe she should think about getting into a new line of business.

    Geez. If you don’t want to do it, you can forward her name to me … I’ll contact her with a few home truths!

    Thanks for sharing your story by the way … it was very encouraging.

  • Mia Monday, March 24, 2008, 11:11 am

    Be encouraged, I also have 3 beautiful children and have stretch marks, but I have a very young and pretty sister in law that has gained and lost weight continously, has no children and suffers with huge, red stretch marks that won’t go away with anything. So if you have them and have the life to prove them, cheer to life, L’Chaim-to life!!!!

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