Young Mum of 2 (Anonymous)

Age 24
Children aged 2 & 4
Both c-section

I met my husband at 19, yes I was young but the way I see it is that way I get to spend even more of my life with him, I’m lucky. I fell pregnant within 5 months of being together and we were extremely happy.

My first pregnancy: I had plenty of problems during first pregnancy, lots of heavy bleeding and then found out when I was a week overdue that our daughter was breech. Luckily when I went into labour the drs rushed me in for an emergency c-section and she was born, a healthy 9lb baby!

The complications continued and when my scar didn’t heal properly I ended up with a hole in my tummy for over 11 weeks after the Birth. Now considering I had put on a mighty 4 stone during pregnancy this didn’t help as I couldn’t exercise to shift the weight. I ate poorly and I believe this is where my issues with my body really began.

I know I’m not alone when I say that looking at your body after having a baby is just horrific at first. I have stretch marks on nearly every part of my body. Excess skin on my tummy which I now live with everyday. And I’m not saying I would change it because obviously my children are the most important thing in my life. However it’s a daily battle looking in the mirror.

Going back to my pregnancies. After 18 months I fell pregnant again accidentally and it terrified me that my body would change yet again!

I managed to keep my weight gain down to 2 and a half stone this time and kept active and ate healthy.

All went well and I had another beautiful little girl, by emergency c section again.

This was when I really stepped it up a gear. Exercising so much that I had no energy. Hardly eating so that my weight plummeted.

I wasn’t happy with how my body now looked and nothing was helping. Exercise and lack of eating was making me even more miserable but when everyone says ‘wow you have lost all your baby weight so fast’ it was like a massive compliment every time and it spurred me on.

I was about 10lbs underweight and looked awful. I can say that now because I can see it but at the time I just fixated on getting my pre baby body back. I know now this is just impossible.

In the last 6 months I’ve tried to eat more and although I still exercise a lot I am aiming to be strong for my children. Both mentally and physically.

Everyday we are surrounded by images, slogans, articles, celebrities promoting ‘skinnyness’ and it’s just so damaging.

It was damaging for me and I just don’t want my daughters growing up thinking there is only one way to be beautiful and it’s by being skinny.

I still struggle everyday as I’m sure every mum does. I now try and look in the mirror and focus on something I like. It’s hard. And not everyday it works. But I do it.

I know I won’t be alone. I just hope that one day I will find a comfortability in my post baby body.


Struggling With My Body Image (Anonymous)

I was 125 5’9″ pre pregnancy. I am 29 and this is my first child delivered via c-section. I was extremely sick for the first five months of pregnancy. After that i rapidly gained weight. I had severe edema and my doctor wanted me to take off work the last four weeks but with my husband out of a job i had to suck it up and work. I went into labor two weeks early and weighed a whoping 188! My daughter was breach so i forced to do a c-section. I thuoght with the swelling and birth i would easily lose half this weight gain. Not the case. So i breastfed until i returned to work so about four months. My daughter is now almost a year old and i look five months pregnant. I am a hairstylist so i deal with people all day, i have been asked when am i due. I always have a brave face when asked and i say oh im not my daughter isnt even a year old yet. But behind closed doors i cry my eyes out. I weigh 160 now and i am ok with the weight. I was underweight prior to having my daughter. I just dont want this belly anymore. I work out as much as i can and eat as healthy as i can but it doesnt seem to help. I am thankful i got very little stretch marks and now they are pretty much gone. But i sm not happy with myself. Especially when everyone i knew that was pregnant at the same time all look like they dont have kids. Reading some of these articles has help me feel like i am not the only one and i hope this helps others feel they are not alone. I am thankful that my husband has helped me feel beautiful and says that i look great. But ultimately if i could tone my abs a little more maybe i would feel complete.

Number of pregnancies: 1 and 1 birth.
Age of child: 10 1/2 months
C-section delivery.
Age: 29

Learning to Be Kind to Myself (Rebekah)

My age: 29
2 pregnancies, 1 miscarriage, 1 birth
10 months postpartum

First I want to say thank you to all the brave women who have posted their stories and photos here. You have helped me to heal.

I also want to say to any women out there who are struggling right now: Your thoughts are powerful. I have brought myself to some dark places with negative thoughts. But you can choose to be kind to

Here are some of the negative thoughts I have had (maybe you can relate):

I am ashamed of my body’s ugliness. I compare myself to other women who are more beautiful than me, who were lucky to have better genes. I grew up being told, as if I needed reminding, that I was not a “real
woman,” that I had scrawny legs, no hips, no butt. Pregnancy did not improve my body. I gained an embarrassing amount of weight and since having my baby I’ve worked hard to lose it all. But now I am covered in stretch marks and flab, and left with a belly more grotesque than I ever could have imagined. I had no idea all this would happen to me just from having a baby.

I gained more than 60 pounds in my pregnancy because I wasn’t careful. I was lazy. I over-ate. I was stupid and now I’m paying for it. My wrinkled belly is mushy, like an empty bag. Its texture is like a
wrinkled, doughy brain. It’s alien; it’s disgusting. It’s the belly of an old decrepit woman. My belly button was once cute; now it’s a deep, droopy hole. My breasts are pendulous—they hang down like tube
socks full of sand. They are asymmetrical, unattractive, saggy, and covered in blue veins. They’re not supposed to lie down on my stomach like this.

Why didn’t I appreciate the smooth belly and perky breasts when I still had them? Why couldn’t I have been one of the lucky ones who got to keep their youthful bodies? It is so unfair and I am so angry!

What the hell has happened to me? My body is disfigured, destroyed, no longer youthful, no longer sexy. I feel so sorry that I’m not desirable for my husband anymore, because he deserves better. I know he doesn’t feel the same passion for me anymore, and why would he?

I will need to hide my belly for the rest of my life now, under long shirts. I don’t want anyone to see me because I know I’m not normal. Nobody else I have ever seen in my life has a belly like this! It’s
not just a few little stretch marks—my skin hangs in big loose wrinkles—my skin is DESTROYED. Nothing I do short of surgery can fix it. As if the loose skin isn’t bad enough, my butt, hips, and thighs are covered in scars—stretch marks so deep they have left deep grooves in my once-smooth skin.

I would like to wear a bikini proudly but I’m afraid that people will stare and wonder what’s wrong with my belly, give me pitying looks, suggest a tummy tuck. Other women will secretly take pleasure in my
disfigurement because it places me below them. Men will look at me with interest until they get close enough to see the details, and then they will be horrified and turned off.

I look fine with clothes on, with a bra holding my breasts up where they’re supposed to be, with clothing covering all the wrinkles, and I feel like a walking lie. Other women compliment me on losing the baby
weight, and tell me they’re jealous of my figure. I accept the compliments and feel like a fake. I purposely project an air of confidence but it’s all fake, fake, fake. What would everyone think if they saw me naked? Any man who saw me naked would be disgusted. Why would any man, my husband included, choose to look at ME when there are so many perfect women to look at? I am a has-been, not even 30 yet and past my prime. I no longer matter and I am so ashamed, so depressed.

And HERE is me choosing to be kind to myself:

I am a BEAUTIFUL WOMAN! I am petite, but with a curvy and feminine shape. I am healthy, sexy, voluptuous, lush, long, limber, strong, soft, admired and even envied for my lovely body.

When I was pregnant my body did exactly what it needed to do, in its innate wisdom. I was a good mother from the start, and I took good care of my baby and myself while I was pregnant. I walked and did yoga. I spent so many hours reading and researching. I carefully planned my meals to make sure my baby got the nutrients he needed. I didn’t do anything wrong. I suffered through great discomfort with grace.

I celebrate my beautiful belly, my womb, and what it has done. I gave birth to my strong and healthy son, breech, at home, with a 7-hour labor, only 30 minutes of pushing and no tearing—that is a feat to be proud of! My body has everything it needs to bring new life into the world—to nurture a tiny cluster of cells and help it grow into a fetus, into a happy little boy, into a new PERSON in this world! That in itself is mind-boggling. I have given birth to a child. I have been a vessel for NEW LIFE. I am directly in tune with all the creative forces of the universe. My feminine abilities are pure, raw, and intense. I am creative energy in action! I am in awe of my womanhood and my body. I am so BLESSED to have been born female.

My belly is normal. There are many different types of postpartum bellies, and many other beautiful mothers have similar soft layers and networks of wrinkles. The skin of my belly is delicate, velvety and interesting. I am happy to bear the marks of motherhood (and such unique and fascinating marks at that!) The stretch marks on my thighs, butt, hips, breasts and belly are starting to fade to silver. They are gorgeous tiger stripes. The grooves of the deeper ones create a sexy texture on my thighs, like built-in fishnet stockings.
They’re cool!

My breasts are full and sensual with a pleasant weight to them. They make sweet, nutritious milk for my baby. He drank nothing but the milk from my breasts for 6 months and it made him grow big, strong and
healthy. At 10 months old, he still gets most of his nutrition from my milk, which keeps him happy and secure. My breasts are a source of delight, comfort and nourishment.

My husband is not bothered a bit by the changes to my body. He still finds me as irresistible as ever, and more importantly, I am the mother of his child. He now views me with a new kind of pride, love and respect. He sees me as a beacon of strength. I am his lady, his rock.

It is wonderful to be alive. It is wonderful to experience the gift of motherhood, and I am blown away with gratitude for my life and my family. I am capable of a love that transcends words. I am capable of far more than I realize. My body is beautiful, but my spirit is even more beautiful, and it shines through. I am beautiful!

I have been through a lot of changes, and feelings of loss and self-doubt are to be expected. They are a normal and healthy part of new motherhood. I am allowed to feel them in passing, but I will not let them rule me. I can choose a positive attitude.

I am only 10 months postpartum and the transformation my body has undergone, from small to gigantic to small again, is nothing short of incredible. My body, even now, is still changing. I must be patient and gentle with myself. I choose to respect my body and take good care of it. My many hours of hard work exercising and eating healthful foods are paying off. My healthy glow is apparent to all who see me. I choose to give myself and my body the same unconditional love and reverence I give to my beautiful son as I watch him grow.

And I may have to work up to it, but I KNOW in time I will have the courage and confidence within me to rock that bikini, in public, in the full light of day. Other people and their twisted cultural standards be damned!

Pictures 1-3 are my beautiful, pre-baby body. Picture 4 is my beautiful 37-week pregnant belly, full of life. 5-7 are my beautiful wrinkly belly, beautiful droopy breasts, and beautifully tiger-striped hip at 10 months postpartum. 8-10 are me rocking my bikini! (This is in the privacy of my back yard, in front of only my husband. I have yet to show my belly in public but I will get there!) And pictures 11-12 are my son, at 2 months and 7 months.

Missing my darling daughter, 15.5 weeks postpartum (Jillyn)

I have been meaning to take pictures and post on here for quite a while now, but with so much going on, i just haven’t found the inner strength or time.

When i was 20 weeks pregnant with our first child we had our first ultrasound and they found that i didn’t have any amniotic fluid. So a week later i finally had another ultrasound and the specialist fount that our baby had cysts in both their kidneys. He then told us our baby would not live. My husband and i were both devastated, but we decided to continue with the pregnancy and cherish every moment we had left with our child.

When i was about 28.5 weeks pregnant i ended up going to the ER for sever pain in my back. It turned out my kidney was inflamed and my growing uterus was causing it. They told me the only way to solve the problem would be to have our baby. The next day was my husbands college graduation and 2 days after that we were moving so we didn’t induce right away. After we were moved we set up an induction date for 2 weeks later because our 2 year wedding anniversary was going to be a week after we had moved.

They started the induction May 25th 2009 at 8pm when i was 32 weeks pregnant. On May 27th, 2009 at 5:17pm we gave birth to our daughter, Grace Carpi. She was so tiny, so perfect and angelic. The had been a frank breech so her little bum was all bruised, but other than that, she was just amazing. She weighed 2 lbs 14 oz and was 16 inches long. After she was born she tried to take a breath, she tried 6-8 times in the 10 minutes after she was born. But sadly, her lungs were not developed at all, so 10-15 minutes after she was born, she slipped away from us. She never let out a cry, never opened her eyes. The doctor has tried to tell us that she was a stillbirth, but after talking to other professionals and reading medical journals, we feel that our daughter indeed was alive and we will continue to fight for our right of a birth certificate.

I am 5’5″ and was 178 lbs before i was pregnant. I weighed 210-215 at the end of my pregnancy and now, 15.5 weeks postpartum i weigh 204-207 lbs. Because of my depression i feel it will take me a while go get down to my pre-pregnancy weight and even longer to get to my healthy weight (about 130-140 lbs). I got my first stretch mark at either 7w or 11w (i can’t remember) on my inner thigh. I got the ones on my stomach when i was 25 weeks pregnant. I also got more stretch marks on my hips and on my breasts. I went up a cup size during pregnancy, from a B to a C.

The last 15 and 1/2 weeks have been quite an emotional time for my husband and i. Not only did he just graduate from college, we moved, had our wedding adversary, gave birth to our daughter, buried our daughter, had my 22nd birthday, my husband left for orientation for a new job, we had a memorial for our daughter, went to talk to a panel of people at the hospital about receiving a birth certificate, and my husband left for 4 weeks of training for work. And during all of that we were and are still grieving the loss of our little girl. Some say we shouldn’t be a sad because we knew that she was going to die, but that doesn’t matter to us. We still lost our daughter, she still is not with us and we will miss her forever.

I am posting pictures of me before my pregnancy, at 28w 3d, at 32w (with Henna Tattoo from blessing way), pictures of Grace, and then pictures of me 15.5w postpartum and a picture of my first and worst stretch mark on my leg.

Updated here.

One Year Ago Today (Zahra)

We found out we were pregnant with Rory 6 weeks after having a miscarriage. I know we were so blessed for it to happen so quickly. I was so excited to be pregnant and really focused on enjoying the pregnancy despite our concerns that we would lose another baby. I have always had to work very hard to maintain my weight, I was never one of those people who could eat whatever I wanted or just lay around. I was active my entire pregnancy and continued to jog up till the day I went into labor. I was not extremely indulgent, I never ate entire bags, boxes, or cartons of anything. In the 42 weeks I was pregnant, I gained 35 pounds, which I didn’t feel was too bad. I loved being pregnant and I loved my growing belly.

We had an amazing midwife and had full intentions of having a water birth at a free standing birth center. When they offered to give us a tour of the hospital “just in case” we declined because I was so sure that I was having my baby in the birth center why would I waste my time visiting the hospital?! Let’s just say thank God the Birth Center mandates preregistration at the hospital…

Shortly after returning home from a wedding on June 14, 2008, my water broke and regular contractions soon began. After 10 hours, my husband and I decided it was time to go to the birth center as we had an hour drive ahead of us, we did not want to go too early because they only have 3 birthing rooms and we knew they would send us home if I was not far enough along. When we arrived our midwife instructed 2 students to begin filling the tub while she checked me – that’s when I saw the look on her face. She said ” I have good news and bad news, the good news is you’re 7 cm dialated, the bad news is my finger is in your baby’s butt!”…I knew we would have to go to the hospital, that was that. In the long run, it was wonderful, the hospital was fine, the cesarean was no big deal, and we got to take home the greatest souvenir ever, our baby Rory.

I went home from the hospital 10 pounds heavier than when I went in…I gained 10 pounds of fluid, I went the entire pregnancy with not so much as a swollen finger and went home looking like the stay puff marshmallow man. Still I thought, no big deal, I was nursing and I ate well, so the weight would just fall off…right? Not quite, it stayed and stayed and did not budge, all my friends were back in their jeans in a few months and I was still wearing maternity pants 5 months pp…..finally, slowly but surely after I stopped nursing upon returning to work, it started to budge little by little. It’s still a struggle, I have to watch what I eat and work out 5-6 days a week, but I knew that would be the case. I firmly believe in the theory of 9 on and 9 off! Happy Birthday to my Muffin, I can’t believe it’s been a year. I am so amazed that my body produced him. He is the joy of my life, he makes me love my husband more and more. I pray that we will be blessed once again to give him a sibling. He amazes me every day!

1st pic 37 weeks pregnant, 2nd 5 days pp, 3rd 3 months before pregnancy, 4th-6th pic 1 year pp, 7th pic our family

~ Age: 29
~Number of pregnancies and births: 2 pregnancies, 1 birth
~The age of your children, or how far postpartum you are: 1 year

Rocking the Boat (Anonymous)

Rocking the boat (Anonymous)

My son is now 20 months old (I’m 27) and is the most AWESOME gift life has ever given me, aside from my husband, yet I am still having a hard time overcoming a tough bout of post-partum depression. Before the birth of my son, I was a super-fit triathlete, vivacious and die-hard optimist, fresh out of college and had just started my own small business. I had a clear plan for myself and my future and was having a ball being the single social butterfly. Suddenly everything changed. My future husband and I conceived our son after a mere 4 months of dating, but decided we were in it for the long haul and decided to marry when I was 7 months pregnant. Talk about a scary start!

My pregnancy was fairly normal, just NOTHING what I had expected! I always romanticized the idea of pregnancy, always assuming I would be at a place in my life where a baby would be the icing on the cake. This was hardly what I had planned! I decided that I wanted as natural a delivery as possible- we’re talking NO drugs, IVs, post-birth eye drops- the whole shabang! Unfortunately, my plans were dashed the day I went in for my 36 week checkup and found that my son was breech. Again, my plans were turned upside down. The natural delivery plan was shot to hell, but I tried to keep my chin up and go with the flow. I opted out of an external cephalic version to avoid the risk of early delivery and to see if my son would turn on his own. I tried everything I heard of to encourage him to turn in an attempt to salvage my birth plan. I tried shining a flashlight down my stomach to encourage him to follow the light, laying inverted on an ironing board,
diving into a pool, even moxibustion and accupuncture! My efforts were all in vain. I even held out on a scheduled c-section until a week past my due date just to see if during the last few days he might still turn. That was no easy task, considering I was still working up until the day before I gave birth, standing for 8 hours a day and having gained 60+ lbs!

Five days past my due date, my water broke early in the morning and I scampered into the bathroom as fluid rushed down my legs. I noticed that there was a funny color to the fluid and immediately thought of what it must be- meconium. Not a good sign. Even so, I was elated that I was able to experience a small bit of a normal labor and will always cherish those last few moments that I was alone with my son still inside me. Knowing that meconium could be inhaled by the baby and cause complications, we rushed to the hospital to begin the cesarean delivery I had so dreaded. I relished the feeling of contractions and welcomed them, and felt calm spread over me as I accepted the situation ahead.

The c-section was actually pretty easy and I surprised myself that I was so calm. I tried to ignore my feelings that the doctors were rushing too much, that they weren’t paying attention to me, that I was just another surgery that morning. The whole thing progressed like a well-oiled machine. There was no soft lighting, no spiritual music playing, no SOUL to the whole event. I just let the doctors do their thing as I laid down and tried to breathe normally as the epidural affected my diaphragm and lungs. I didn’t even recognize my husband when he sat down next to me and held my hand. I was shocked when I asked the doctors if they had started yet and they said,” Oh yeah! We’ve got a hold of his legs! Now there’s a big baby!” (At 9.5lbs, I should say so!) I saw my beautiful son and his bright pink face screeching for all the world to hear for a split second before he was whisked away. I don’t recall seeing him again for what seemed like hours. The drugs they gave me caused me to become violently ill and I vomited almost non-stop for several hours after the birth. I was so drugged up that I have almost no clear memory of the next few hours. Bonding with my son was a distant urge. I do recall being wheeled down to the NICU to see my son, and having to stop several times along the way to vomit. One stop was so violent that I felt a distinct POP in the stitches holding my stomach together. This didn’t seem to bother any of the doctors or nurses, despite the fact that the skin around the alleged POP was now bulging.

My son was being held in the NICU for reasons that remain unclear to me. They said that there was a concern over his circulation post-birth and they wanted to check out his heart (this really means that they wanted to use their fancy machines and keep any possible lawsuits at bay). My son was fine and they released him soon after, but I have no recollection of his homecoming. I do recall a nurse prodding me several times to get me to nurse him and finally threatening to give him formula if I didn’t liven up. I fought through the drugs and tried to nurse. Let me just say that overcoming two inverted nipples while on morphine was not the easiest thing I’ve ever done. Breastfeeding proved to be THE most challenging feat of my life! I summoned up every nursing consultant I could scrounge up before I left the hospital, and was given every tool and doo-dad to encourage breast feeding. My mother-in-law must have thought I was a total moron when it was nursing time and I whipped out my avalanche of tools! Despite about 4 bouts of mastitis, cracked and bleeding nipples, latching problems and SEVERE engorgement (A cup to a D+!), I managed to breastfeed for an entire year! If my hubby hadn’t prodded me along and given a mountain of support, I might have quit after two weeks. It was a NIGHTMARE. I didn’t know a single other mother who had such a hard time of it. Nobody could compare stories with me or even come close!

Overcoming the c-section was a cakewalk compared to the struggles I had breastfeeding. It was so painful I actually used my leftover pain meds for the c-section recovery to make it through a nursing session. Since my brand-new hubby was still in law school and studied all day and all night, I was pretty much on my own with the baby. I suffered such exhaustion that I would lay on the couch weeping and say that I just wanted to die. I was also concerned over the strange bulge on one side of my birth scar, as well as the deflated balloon I had for a belly and the 30+ lbs I still had to lose.

Even a year and a half later and only 5lbs away from my pre-baby weight (pretty darn good, right?) I still have a few body issues. What mom doesn’t? Mostly I am struggling with my sense of self, the identity I am remodelling and the new life I have. I try not to seem ungrateful for all the blessings I have in life, but at the same time I struggle to find the “old” me, if she even exists anymore. With such a tumultuous start to my marriage, an unplanned pregnancy, unwanted cesarean, troubles breastfeeding and now a diagnosis of a prolapsed uterus and possible hernia, it’s a wonder I can carry on a normal conversation! Things are actually a lot better than they sound here, but I still have tough days. Completing my first triathlon at 5 mos post-partum was a real boost for me and something I remain proud of. It’s good to know that I have family and a great husband I can count on, as well as the awesome advice and inspiration from strong women like you! Shape of a Mother ROCKS!!!