Yeah, Those Are My Stretch Marks! And I Like Them!

"Oh Sorry- I Didn't Recognize You"

I always gain about 45 pounds with pregnancy. This results in months of feeling overweight, stretch marks, and skin that does not look the way it did when I was 19. And yes- people don't recognize me with fat face! Honestly, I beat myself up about it, contemplate starvation, and try to punish myself with work-outs.

Pregnant with my first, I just assumed I would be one of those women you see 3 weeks after they have the baby and they are back in their regular jeans. Instead I was one of those women who took 9 months to gain 45 pounds, and took 9 months to lose it.


Everywhere I go it seems like there is some actress on the front of a magazine or walking down the red carpet, skinny as all get out, while somebody else watches her baby (or babies) back home for her. Why don't I look like that a month later!?

Even though I intellectually know this isn't realistic for me (since I don't have access to trainers, cooks, and excellent photo-shop skills) I still spend a lot of time wondering why I do not get into that great of shape that quickly.

Recently a few things have made me rethink the hatred that I direct towards my post baby shape. First I read this blog about some flagrantly airbrushed pictures of an actress post baby, click here.

I also had somebody close to me get plastic surgery to correct the effects of aging. While I was talking about how horrified I was at their blatant act of vanity, it occurred to me that I show the same kind of distaste toward what childbearing has done to my body.

This Body Can Do Anything

All of this disturbing introspection made me think of how I felt about my body after my first child was born. I had a long labor and he was only born after 4 hours of hard pushing. It was the hardest I had ever worked for anything in my life. Even though I was baby fat and stretched out, I felt like I could do anything. I had no idea that my body was capable of that kind of physical endurance and strength. I felt like a female warrior.

I had never before exercised and I started to a few months later. When my baby was 6 months old I ran my first 5k and even though it was hard for me, I knew I could do. When I felt like giving up I just told myself "You spent 4 hours pushing out a 8lb 6 oz baby- this is nothing". And I did it!

Ignoring the Demons

Even though I once felt awesome about my female body post baby, I slowly lost that feeling of wonder. Two more babies later I found myself desperately trying to lose the baby weight again, wondering why my skin had to stretch out so much, irritated that I had even MORE stretch marks and - trying to not eat again.

Every time I look at the computer it seems like Heidi Klum is walking down a runway in her under ware 3 weeks after giving birth and I look nothing like her! And even though I should know better, I feel bad about myself and I hate this amazing body because it doesn't seem as good as the one that other women have.

Who cares?! I (and all of us) need to ignore the ridiculous portrayals of women in media who look like they have never had children. I am not saying that once you have kids you should never try to feel good physically again, I just realized that my focus was ridiculous. It honestly never occurred to me that their pictures were airbrushed and totally fake. I just kept wondering what was wrong with me. Why do we hate the way our shapes change with children anyway? Does our society constantly tear down motherhood and all symbols of on a daily basis? I think it does. Look at any magazine cover and you will see that this is true. It is time to rethink the way we see ourselves post baby.

Reality Check

So- even though I have been really disturbed lately about somebody I love altering their body with surgery, it made me realize that I have looked at myself the same way.

I forgot how incredible this body is. I forgot that all those scars and stretch marks and "imperfections" were earned with every pregnancy and birth. I also forgot that every little bit of it was worth it. My baby body flaws are not a sign of my weakness and imperfection. They are just proof that I have lived, given birth, and brought life into this world. I love them!


Misty said…
Thanks Sarah, that was great!
Bella said…
I beat myself up about it also. I work out twice a day and count my calories and I am STILL at the same weight as I was at my 6 week visit. Have I mentioned she is almost 6 months old? I read and read about how I am supposed to lose weight faster while nursing but I am the complete opposite. I HOLD ON to every ounce of fat while nursing and once I stop nursing, as long as I give up any kind of food that is good tasting and work my butt off I can lose a few pounds. It's hard! I even contemplate weaning my baby, but I honestly just love nursing so much that I would rather be a little fat than not nurse her! She is only small for so long and I won't be able to get that back! Don't get me started on stretch marks! hahah I actually DO Want a tummy tuck, whether or not I will actually do it is another thing. Can we make up the I HATE HEIDI KLUM club please? My body will never be what it was before I had kids. I am not a movie star who will bounce back. We do need to accept ourselves and our bodies post partum! These bodies made (in my case) four beautiful children and I wouldn't give up the stretch marks for any of my kids! I guess its just doing the best you can and exercising to be a healthy, happy person. Sorry I ranted...and raved! hahah
Mama Birth said…
I hate Heidi Klum too! And - I feel like I hold on to maybe 10 pounds while nursing too. I think that maybe our body needs some extra fat store to ensure you can feed the baby.
After hearing about the pain that my --- has gone through with her cosmetic surgery I think it has cured me of ever wanting to do that though. Especially when I preach about avoiding unnecessary surgery in birth, I don't know how I can justify it. I have a saggy stomach too- I don't really think it will get better- but I am just trying to be ok with it.
If I looked too good- I would probably be stalking the wolf boy! HAHA- Nature serves it's purpose. Right now I am just going to focus on eating healthy and exercising and letting my body do whatever it needs to do. If I am not super skinny- thats ok- I just don't want to get wrapped up in only noticing my flaws anymore.
Bella said…
hahahah wolf boy! that's awesome!
dainingrid said…
Sarah, you hit the nail on the head! I read this 4 weeks postpartum at a discouraging moment, thanks for the laugh and reality check!
Betsy said…
Hear, hear! I often look at my body and miss that slender, flat tummied body I had at 18, but I wouldn't trade my children for that body! It's done some amazing things, and it deserves to show for it!