I’m 20 years old with two beautiful baby boys, but I can’t stand my body. I can’t even look at it. Before pregnancy I was self conscious about my body but in reality it was pretty perfect.. 5’5 132lbs, 34C breasts, wide hips and flat stomach. I’ve always had self image issues and I don’t know where it stemmed from… Little did I know what my body would look like in the years to come.
I got pregnant with my first son at 17 from a man I was with for 4 years (I met him when I was very young) with that pregnancy I gained about 40lbs. I got my first stretch mark by no surprise considering that fact that it runs strongly in my genes, my mom and grandma have stretch marks ripping across their stomachs. But I was still in denial. “What is this line on my hip? It can’t be a stretch mark, is it a varicose vein? Nobody gets stretch marks on their hips.” At about 30 weeks there was no hiding the sad truth, I had already gained stretch marks that ripped over my once magazine cover ready body. I had stretch marks on my thighs, my breasts, my stomach, hips and back (yes my back).
My son was born at 36 weeks when my water spontaneously broke. Other than some feeding problems my son was born healthy. My breasts engorged to no return however, they were unmeasurable. Well past a 42DD. So when my milk dried up, it left me with two sad saggy excuses for breasts. I didn’t even want to touch them. I felt like I was in the body of someone much much older than me and I hated it… They were uneven, my nipples were dark and pliable… They felt like two empty socks filled with sand. That’s the only way I can explain it and trust me they remained that way.
To my surprise though despite the breasts I now hated, I had lost the pregnancy weight rather fast over the rest of my body, I wasn’t doing anything special and I wasn’t nursing. I shed 40lbs in just weeks.. I then continued to lose weight with a combination of staying busy and not eating as much as I had before pregnancy. I dropped down to the skinniest I had ever been when my son was about 6 months old. Because I could easily hide my breasts and my stretch marks I was pretty confident and proud of my mom bod. When my son was 7 months old I met the love of my life who accepted me and my son, he was fully prepared to be the father figure to him and even planned to put his name on the birth certificate. When I was with him I continued to see progress in my body. He accepted me. He made me feel sexy, he kissed my tummy and always told me how beautiful I am- boobs and all. We got engaged pretty fast, about 5 months into our relationship. But I didn’t care, he was perfect to me and my son. We were together about 10 months when I fell pregnant and although he was scared and I was scared, we were so very happy. We found out we were having a boy and he thought it was sexy that I was carrying his child, I loved it- but I knew soon my body was going to plummet down to that nasty, saggy, wrinkly state once I had given birth. Hearing horror stories of how much harder it is to get your body back the second time around worried me to no end.
But something horrible happened. It’s hard for me to talk about but I need to share my story, maybe for my own closure. When I was 7 months pregnant my fiancé, the love of my life, the biological father to the beautiful baby boy in my tummy and the soon to be adoptive father of my older son… He passed away. He was only 23. It was a tragic accident and he was in the hospital for 1 1/2 weeks. He slowly declined as far as his reflexes and eventually the doctor preformed tests and told me he was brain dead. He was an organ donor so they artificially kept his body alive for 4 days. I was at the hospital every second of every day. At 7 months pregnant I quickly dropped 12 lbs in 12 days. I didn’t eat. I slept next to him. I put his hand on my belly. I kissed him and knew it would be the last time I felt him. I prayed, I cried, I lost it. But what kept me going was knowing I had a piece of him inside me. The nurses were so very worried about me. They tried so hard to get me to eat for the health of my baby but I just couldn’t. I’ve never been so sick in my life. I felt cheated and ripped off. It wasn’t fair that he wouldn’t get to meet his son. We were so close- I was due in two months. I quickly became jealous and bitter toward all the happy pregnant couples and the women who got to see the father of their child’s reaction to meeting their kids… After his funeral I started to eat again. But I didn’t care how much weight I gained. I didn’t care about the stretch marks or my breasts sagging. I knew I had to bring his baby into the world by myself and it would be all we have left of him. I didn’t care if I got stretch marks up to my neck, I didn’t care if my breasts sagged to my knees or if I gained hundreds of pounds I just didn’t care. I just felt blessed that I had his baby in me. I don’t know how I would’ve taken it if he hadn’t left anything behind. I knew my fiancés legacy lived on inside me and I would soon get to see a part of him face to face. Overall I gained 43lbs with my second, gained more stretch marks, my breasts got worse. My stomach is saggy. I’m about 3 pant sizes bigger. My belly bottom is blown out, wrinkly and dark. I’ve only lost 23lbs out of the 43 that I gained. When I see pictures of myself I cringe. I don’t see how anyone could love this body. And the fact that I’m going through it alone is 100x worse. My youngest boy is only 3 weeks old and you know what? He’s a spitting image of his father. I even named him after his father. He’s perfect. I feel so bad for him my heart hurts that he will never get to meet his dad. And that pain is so much more than any emotional pain I’ve ever had over my self image. I know I have a long time to go as far as letting my body heal- but I can tell this time around I’m not ever going to feel comfortable in my body again.
I may not have a great body- but what I do have is two PERFECT children, one of which is the product of a miracle. Both of which will never judge me for my body. After losing my fiancé I am so very lonely. I don’t have anybody here to tell me how beautiful I am or kiss my tummy like he did. I don’t get the pleasure to see his reaction when looking at his son who looks exactly like him. He was so excited about his first biological born son.
But I will never be truly alone because I have my children. They will never look a me differently for having stretch marks and a saggy body. They won’t care that their young mom has the body of someone three times her age. One thing that sticks with me when I look at my body in the mirror today is my fiancé telling me before he passed, that he didn’t care if I didn’t shed a single pound after pregnancy and he would love me no matter what. And I know he is looking down on me, being a guardian angel for his kids, kissing his boys foreheads and holding them, and his spirit is kissing my stretch marks and caressing my saggy stomach.