Lets talk about stretch marks. I had a few pre-pregnancy on my inner thighs from growing hips after high school. I used to be really self-conscious about them but after the redness faded they became less visible and I became less uncomfortable. I still preferred capri pants over shorts and wore shorts when in a bathing suit, but for the most part ignored them.
Jump ahead to my pregnancy. In the beginning I was really worried about stretch marks. Don't ask me why, I've never been a bikini girl or anything like that, but it was ingrained in my head from every mommy forum and pregnancy site to do whatever I could to avoid them with lotions, oils and creams. I lathered up with cocoa butter twice a day and used bio-oil after showering. I figured if that wasn't enough, nothing was.
For a while, it seemed like it was working and I might actually be one of the lucky ones to avoid getting any scarring. Then I woke up one morning around week 20 or so of my pregnancy and looked in the mirror and there one was, a little stretch mark creeping up my belly. Slightly irritated, but not too concerned, I continued lotioning daily and hoped that'd be it. Unfortunately that was the beginning of the end, because from then on nothing I did stopped the scars from appearing what felt like every time I looked at my body in the mirror.
By week 30 I had more than I could count, sprawling up my underwear line and past my belly button. I gave up on lotions and enjoyed not smelling like cocoa butter 24/7. Once there were so many, I started to feel neutral about them. I just stopped giving a damn. My husband honestly was more concerned about it than I was, not for cosmetic reasons but because he'd heard they can itch and become irritated.
At one of my baby showers, my sister in law who had given birth a few months before me was complaining about a stretch mark she'd noticed after her son was born. She was in amazing shape pre-baby and was quickly bouncing back, so just to joke around I challenged her to show me hers and I'd show her mine. I honestly couldn't even see the mark she was pointing to on her side when she lifted up her shirt and was laughing inside to see what her reaction would be to my stomach. Lifting my top up, I watched her eyes bulge and mouth turn in to an "o", and she immediately started apologizing for complaining about her mark when I had so many. I told her it was fine, I was cool with it, I was just messing around, and then it occurred to me that I really DIDN'T care. I really WAS fine with the way my stomach looked.
I'm not trying to come off as self-righteous or pretentious, but when I realized I wasn't bothered at all by my stretch marks, I was proud of myself. I figured especially postpartum, that feeling may not last so I promised to remind myself when the time came.
2 months postpartum
Jump forward to 2 months postpartum, my beautiful daughter was born at 41 1/2 weeks and my post-baby body has taken a lot of time to heal. It's STILL healing in many ways, but one place I'm focusing on embracing and not being self-conscious about is my belly.
I wasn't in the greatest shape pre-baby but I definitely noticed my stomach was a lot softer after birth. The skin shrunk but didn't tighten and the stretch marks bunched up with nothing there to stretch them out. I can't say I haven't had moments where I didn't think "I wish I had a flat, flawless belly" but who wouldn't? It's at those times that I've tried to really look at myself and remind myself what the scars and extra pudge mean to me. They mean I'm a mother with an incredible, beautiful, delightful daughter that was a result of the wear and tear to my body, and I wouldn't take it back for anything. I'm so grateful to have her in my life and the changes to my body have been nothing compared to the joy she's brought to my life.
I hope to anyone who reads this, that you do whatever you can to embrace your body and love it with all it's flaws. You're beautiful and your body deserves to be loved by you because it's the only one you have and it's capable of amazing things.
That's all for today!