Need to Learn to See Beauty in Myself (Anonymous)

I am 33 years old. I have been pregnant six times, and I’ve given birth to four fantastic children, ages 8, 5, 2, and 7 months.

I married my best friend straight out of college and got pregnant with our first child about two years later, the second month we tried. We were both in graduate school at the time, so our financial situation was not ideal, but we had planned the pregnancy and were very excited. Our first son was born shortly before my 25th birthday.

Growing up, I’d always been skinny and had never had any real body issues. My weight crept up in the years following high school, though, and I began my first pregnancy at the high end of what is considered healthy for my height. Looking back, I realize I was beautiful, but at the time, I just felt fat.

I gained 40 pounds with that pregnancy, much of which was water weight that was shed easily and quickly after giving birth. Twenty pounds stayed with me, though, as did the stretch marks that had made a fierce and furious appearance at around 36 weeks, long after I’d thought I’d dodged that bullet.

I had never seen anything like my stretch marks postpartum. My breasts and belly were covered in angry, purple stripes. I remember asking my dermatologist how I could get rid of them. She looked at me like I was crazy. I had become a mom and was finally learning one of the best-kept secrets about real women’s bodies.

It took me 18 months or so to lose the weight from my first pregnancy. My body was finally my own again, and I felt great! I began thinking of the stretch marks as momma tiger stripes, battle scars that showed just how well my body had grown and nourished my son.

We started trying for a second child shortly after I lost weight. Unfortunately, we were not as lucky this time, and I experienced two, consecutive, first-trimester miscarriages. The day I was to start Clomid in the hopes of attracting another sticky pregnancy, I found out I was pregnant for the fourth time.

I was so worried about losing another baby that I really didn’t worry much about how my body looked during that pregnancy. I was just happy to be pregnant! My body was working as it should; it was supporting another pregnancy.

My beautiful daughter was born when I was 28. She didn’t leave me with any new stretch marks, but she did encourage the old ones to crawl a tiny bit up my breasts and abdomen. My stripes, which had grown pale and silvery, were again tipped in purple.

My third child, another boy, was born three years later. In utero, he had always preferred one side over the other, and was born a full pound larger than my first two, so he left my belly lopsided. The apron of skin to which I had grown accustomed from my first pregnancy hung down further and more to one side than the other now.

When we conceived our fourth child, I weighed the most I’d ever weighed at the beginning of a pregnancy. My weight had always fluctuated quite a bit, but this was a maximum. I was embarrassed I’d let my body deteriorate, and I was worried about gaining even more.

My fourth child, and my third son, was born seven months ago. As big as I was when I carried him, he was my smallest baby, a few ounces shy of his oldest brother and sister.

I weigh more now than I’ve ever weighed without being pregnant. When I think back to the body I inhabited when I got pregnant with my first child, the change over these past nine years is astounding.

I’m starting to understand that I am done bearing children. I feel like I’ve been through a war, and I finally have time to stand back and survey the damage. This is the body I’m left with. It is the only one I will ever have, and it will never, never be the same.

I have stripes now, permanent stripes that mark where the skin on my belly stretched as my babies pulled it up over their bodies like a blanket. The muscles under these stripes have separated and become weak. My skin hangs, lopsided. I have breasts that hang too, breasts that have nursed babies for 59 months (and counting). Pendulous, striped breasts, with brown areolas where there used to be pink. My legs are bigger. My arms are bigger. I have a double chin, crow’s feet, and sprinkles of gray in my hair.

I wouldn’t change any of it, but at the same time, I can’t say I love my body. I see beauty in other women that I just don’t see in myself. I look in the mirror, and my body doesn’t reflect me. Staring back is someone who looks tired, someone whose physical transformation has left her with a body that is virtually unrecognizable.

I want my children to have a mother who loves her body. I just don’t know how. I want them – my daughter, especially – to grow up understanding that there is a wide range in what is beautiful. I want them not only to see beauty in others, but also beauty in themselves, every day of their lives.


My body is wrecked (Elizabeth)

Number of pregnancies & births: Four
Ages of children: 9, 6, 3, and almost 5 months

B&W photo taken four month post-partum after fourth child
Beach photo taken 11 months post-partum after first child

I guess you could say I was proud of my body after the birth of my first child. I bounced back fairly quickly despite the severe case of PUPPPs and my fresh stretch marks. It only took a year before I was able to confidently wear a bikini and actually go out in public. With each subsequent pregnancy, I got more stretch marks, contracted PUPPPs two more times, and during my last pregnancy, I had severe diastasis recti. And with each pregnancy, I became more and more uncomfortable with my shape. I thought that I needed to be able to fit back into that bikini I proudly wore after my first son was born. I thought that I needed to be able to wear my pre-pregnancy jeans. In fact, I have a pile of jeans of varying sizes in my closet that still don’t fit, yet I hang on to them anyway. Perhaps I’m fooling myself into believing that I’m going to slim back down. Is it possible to be proud of a body that birthed four babies? I’m proud of what my body did. My body was able to labor and deliver four healthy children and nurse them all without complications. Who wouldn’t be proud of that? But in this culture where celebrity mothers emerge months after birth looking radiant and toned, I can’t help but feel uncomfortable when I look in the mirror at nine-year-old stretch marks, scars, and an abdomen that sags over even my largest pair of pre-pregnancy pants.

My Second Entry – Still Trying to Accept Me (Angele)

Original entry here.

~Your Age: 28.. almost 29.
~Number of pregnancies and births: 2
~The age of your children, or how far postpartum you are: My children are almost 8 and almost 4; 3 and a half years PP.

Hello to all you wonderful ladies,

I have written in here before and wanted to update. In my last entry (3 years and still this?!?!) I talked about saving up for a tummy tuck; I had my first consultation with a plastic surgeon and I found out that I would indeed benefit from a TT. I have abdominal diastasis (muscle seperation) of approx. 3 inches. The Dr. explained my stomach to me, regarding the weird indent I have on my bottom can actually see where the muscle is seperated!…

I have lost some weight since my last entry, and it has not improved the look of my stomach, if anything it just hangs more now. I visit this site every day to simply get inspired and hope to find the strength and courage you ladies have. It is always difficult to see the beauty in oneself.. I hope to get there one day!

For now, I am content in seeing the beauty of my 2 little girls who make it all worth it! :)

My pictures are as follows:
3.5 years PP:
Pic 1: front sucked in
Pic 2: front relaxed
Pic 3: side relaxed
Pic 4: side sucked in
Pic 5: Muscle split
Pic 6:My little ones :)

Updated here.

Diastatis Recti (Katie)

Hi Mums,

I am 30 years old and mother to an 8-month daughter. Her name is Maja.

I used to be a fitness maniac before pregnancy, which you can surely see in my photo ‘before’. I used to be on the skinny side, but during pregnancy I gained 50 lbs and I was huge. People frequently asked me if I was carrying twins. Well, I wasn’t, and my baby wasn’t that big, with just 8 lbs.

Unfortunately, in late pregnancy I developed two miserable conditions, one of them was PUPPP (which made me suicidal) and the other one was diastasis recti. The diastasis recti brought along some stretchmarks around my belly button. These stretchmarks have cured fairly well, now they look like thin white or grayish lines, but when I sit down, my stomach is wrinkled. You can see them in one of the pics.

My belly button is deformed b/c of the diastasis recti. I have recently seen a surgeon and been told that I had a slight hernia and ought to undergo a surgery (a mesh implant). The diastasis recti gives me the funny pot belly which you can see in the pictures. I still look like 5 months pregnant. The trouble is, I will have to wait with the surgery until I’m done with having babies.

And I am still not sure if I want another one… It’s not about the body, I believe exercise can do wonders. What troubles me is PUPPP… Perhaps you have heard of it? Just after I gave birth (10 hours in labor), the itching was so bad that I didn’t even feel any pain. My mother had to move in and look after my baby, because I wasn’t able to sleep, I was restless and a nervous wreck. I even went back to hospital and told them to do ‘something’ or I would kill myself. It usually disappears after labor, mine was only getting worse and worse! I had it for six painful weeks and if it ever comes back… I think I can’t take it any more! Unfortunately I deleted all photos with my PUPPP, b/c looking at them made me itch!

8 months postpartum I lost almost all the extra lbs, with only 5 left. But as you can see, the body is not the same. No time for exercise! I hope this will change over time. And I am still thinking about the DR surgery. It would surely make my pot belly disappear.

I didn’t take any pics of my boobs because they haven’t changed a bit. They were two sizes bigger when I breastfed and now they are back to the original size and shape.

Anyway, Maja is the best thing that’s ever happened in my life!

Update (Iraiosc)

Original entry here.

Hi again, of course i still reading all post of all valiant woman who has new bodies like me. All you made me stronger and leave my depression.
Actually i feel so pretty dressed because i lost more or less all volume. My son will celebrate 1 year the 2nd april!!

Of course i still having umbilical hernia and diastasis… and i don’t know if i want more kids… of course i want… but i’m so so scared that probably i never would repeat… :(
What a bad situation for my husband, my son and me…. but, what would you do? Maybe another pregnancy would break my belly and probably the baby goes out like an alien!! hahahaha :-D
After i decide i will repair the hernia and put the navel at his place. When i will… i show you pics if you want!

Well, i hope you note some difference between fists pics and this, but i still looking bad down my clothes… my navel is so courious and is looking outside…
Kisses to everybody, still strong as you do and take care of yourselves to feel so pretty inside and outside!!

PD1 My son now is walking!!! :DDD bravoooooo!!
PD2 Again…. sorry for my mistakes in english!

Me dressed! I lost all the kilos i’ve gained!! I think now I look so well, don’t?

Do you see the hernia down the navel? and the wrinkles? :O

i know is terrible, but now i feel so better!

me at 38 weeks

and me one month before being pregnant.

Updated here.