The title of this post…double entendre if I’ve ever heard one, especially in my current state of body. Here I am, 21 weeks into pregnancy, coming to terms…coming to the full term of pregnancy. But I am also, once again, coming to terms with this ever-growing and changing body of mine.
I snapped this photo the other night in bad lighting. At first I was going to hit delete and move on, but it kind of made me stop and pause for a minute. It’s me through a fuzzy, dark lens. Sometimes that’s how I think of myself while pregnant. I am not quite me. I am nondescript. Just another woman bearing a child…insert any head or identifying features.
The mystery and beauty of what is happening inside is lost when I focus too much on my exterior.
I’ll never forget this one moment when I was pregnant with Zion. I was probably around 28 weeks or so, I had just walked back to my room from the shower. There was a full length mirror leaned against the wall and when I took off my towel I caught a glimpse of myself there. I was completely in awe of my body in that moment. I was so amazed at the roundness of my belly and how it was slightly lopsided to the right, where he liked to lean. I admired all my new curves and felt almost gleeful at what it all meant.
Just a few weeks later—same scenario, only this time I turned around to catch a back view. There were long red stretch marks starting from my hips and ran all the way down my bottom, then continued down my legs till they finally stopped just behind my knees. I was so shocked. It was horrible to see these marks left on me, like a wild animal had come by in the night unbeknownst to me and left them there.
From then on I watched my body change through that fuzzy, dark lens. I was no longer as impressed with my ripening belly, especially once it developed some ugly red streaks of its own. When I developed PUPPS soon after his birth (yes, that can happen!), anywhere I had stretchmarks was invaded with a horrible red rash. It was safe to say, my self-image, self-worth even, was pretty much shot.
It took a long time to recover from that. One of my favorite posts I wrote on this blog was about that recovery period (click here to read it) and how I came to terms with having the “shape of a mother”.
And yet. Here I sit. Thinking I was past all of that, thinking I had come to terms with it and I could just enjoy my last pregnancy by marveling at the miracle of it all. Not wallow in self-pity and shame.
But it’s hard, ya know? It’s hard when, STILL, women are put under so much pressure to look put together and beautiful and thin and perfect while pregnant. We have blogs devoted to maternity fashion…not always a bad thing…but can be rough when you don’t just look like you swallowed a basketball (unless you count your butt as two more basketballs…and your thighs…)
Not to mention, as I said above, what about the mystery and beauty of what’s happening inside? Where does that even come into play when people get judgmental of Jessica Simpson and her 70 pound weight gain during pregnancy? Where does that fit in when I look at myself in the mirror outside the shower now and see two babies’ worth of stretchmark scars and wonder if #3 will grace my body with her own graffiti?
The other morning, Zion came into bed to snuggle. First thing he did was lift up my shirt to say “Good Morning Floooooweeeer!!” right into my belly button. Soon he was tracing my silvery stretchmark scars with his finger (much like he did once at 8 months old) and a big grin came on his face and he said “Mom, see that line? THAT’S where I kicked you…and right there too…and there! That’s so cool it’s still there and I can see it!”
There was some hope, and even redemption I’d say, in that moment. To him, those were markers of him, and his brother, and eventually his sister. I can’t deny how special that is, to be able to carry the signs of my children with me for the rest of my life. But for today, I have to come to terms with not measuring up to society’s standards. I have to accept myself—fragmented skin and all.
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