Thursday, January 2, 2014

Would You Trade the Stretch Marks?


I have two little boys, 3 1/2 and 1 1/2. My first was born naturally and my second was born via the first gentle cesarean in the Chicagoland area after my little stinker refused to turn head down. My pregnancies were very similar. I didn't have any real aversions to certain foods. I just wanted to eat it all. All the food. Which actually wasn't very different from my life prior to becoming pregnant.

My biggest "complaint" would definitely have to be heartburn and the acid reflux that sometimes came with that. Um, yuck. All worth it though and I would take it again and again, especially after learning the details of our first doula's hyperemesis gravidarum where her organs began shutting down by the end of the pregnancy. Yep. Bring on the occasional night time chokes please!

I gained around 50 pounds with both boys. I had plans to really keep that under better control with our second but it didn't seem to happen. Both times I never hit the 200lb mark but wow was I ever close! This was an interesting experience for me, especially the first time.

Judging by the comments of others, I spent most of my life appearing skinny. I say "appearing" because I grew up in the 80s and 90s and I'm not sure if you noticed but ads and media really bombarded the public with half naked skinny women (and it seems to have only gotten worse as the years go by). Not surprisingly, that gets into the deep inner psyche of the vast majority of young girls and as far as I can tell it never completely leaves. So while others found me skinny, I didn't see quite the same thing. So tipping the scales at almost 200lbs was....confusing and worrisome. Yes, even knowing I was creating life! I know how absurd it can sound to some people who don't "get it".

There are times when it is relatively easy to ignore this societal voice in my head and other times well, not so much. I have noticed that it all depends on who I'm listening to.

Did I make the mistake of turning on the TV?
Was I looking too close at the magazine covers in the check out line?
Was I looking in awe at pictures on Facebook of an old high school friend who was in a bikini 4 months post-partum?
Was I staring a little too discriminatingly close at my stretch marks?
Was I doing a sit up and trying to find where the muscle began?
Did I focus on my muffin top for more than 3 seconds?
Was I trying in vain to remember what my belly button used to look like?

OR

Did I look at my boys and remember how I would do it all over again, every time, if it was the means to these two precious ends?
Did I look at the scale every month and watch that ever so slow but steady drop and see that I could do it? Even if it took longer to get off than it took to put on!
Did I let the boys jiggle my stomach and just watch them giggle and laugh?
Did I stare at my stretch marks and remember how it felt every time the boys moved or had the hiccups?

Sometimes it requires a lot of effort to tune out that inner teen. I have to stop and center just to see where I'm at and what's going on. Then I can get back in the right mindset and move forward, happily!

Finding the amusement in the entire situation helps. Seriously, they find my stomach hilarious....how can I not laugh with them? It also helps to remember how THEY see me. Those stretch marks and fluff are part of their mama, whether those "flaws" are there or not, they think I'm amazing. They love to play with me no matter what I look like. They find me both full of love and knowledge. For such little beings those two things add up to the most powerful person they know. I find that amazing.

I don't want them to grow up watching me scrutinize my body. I want them to see me find the humor in it, accept it as it is and even find it flawfully beautiful. It seems to me that would give them a healthier lens to view the rest of the women in this world.

When mama isn't having an issue with her body then neither is anyone else of relevance. We can get on with life. Which is a good thing because there's plenty of baseballs for me to throw, bases for me to jump on, hoops for me to slam dunk in, rocket ships for me to countdown in and dirt for me to roll around in!

I hope that all you mamas out there can find a way to shush your inner teen and love yourselves. See yourselves as they see you, which is honestly beautiful and don't forget to stay in the picture!!! I know you would take those stretch marks again and again if it meant your babies are your babies.

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