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.

I’m Proud… (Ewa)

I’m Proud of my Stretchmarks

Today, after 17 years, my belly looks like this. I´ve been thinking that I should try to dress myself in in yellow, orange and red colours and paint my strechmarks so that they look like flames from a fire or a vulcano erupting on the next Halloween-party I go to….. It gives me great satisfaction to know that I have been able to carry 2 (out of three) lovely children full term and that they have grown into two lovely young ladies which have now reached the age of 17 and 19. The eldest is actually born “breech birth” i.e. with her little “behind” first . So was I and one or two of my brothers and sister. The only one we know for sure is born ” like everybody else” with the head first is my twin brother.

Kind Regards