October 14, 2012

Stretch marks

On the days when pregnancy and impending motherhood is exciting, I am usually thinking about the wonderful things to come that will make the struggles and stresses of right now worth it all.

There are, of course, tons of things to look forward to once the baby is born (we're due in the end of April, by the way) - baby smiles and laughs, little hands and feet, a tiny voice speaking French, and so, so much more. But there are also a lot of things about being pregnant that I am either already enjoying or can't wait to experience.

Like my curlier hair and thicker fingernails.

And feeling the baby kick and move inside me.

And seeing my belly grow as the baby gets bigger.

And getting stretch marks.

That last one seems a bit strange, I'm sure. Almost every pregnancy blog I've read so far - and even an awful lot of weight loss blogs - talk about stretch marks, and the terrible fear that people have of getting them.

I used to fear stretch marks, too. From about age 16, I was afraid of losing weight, for both the loose skin and the stretch marks. So I continued to gain, making both situations worse than they would have been if I'd initially committed to living healthier. It was not about vanity, but rather, the idea of permanent reminder of my failures. I could lose all the weight I wanted or needed, and appear average to anyone passing on the street. But secretly, when naked and vulnerable, I'd always have a visual forcing me to recall the very big mistakes I'd once made.

Today, I have a lot of loose skin, and more than my fair share of stretch marks from huge gains and rapid losses. It's not as upsetting as I'd once anticipated - this far into my journey, I have a better understanding of and stronger love for my body, and I know that the weight loss milestones, the smaller jeans, and the race medals are incredibly worth the loose skin. Still, it's difficult - it can be uncomfortable, especially now. I have a very tiny little bit of a bump, but in order to feel it, I have to lift the skin of my lower stomach.

I have both excited and terrified days with regard to the pregnancy, just like the happy and sad days with weight loss. Losing weight is great, but sometimes, when my self-esteem is not what it should be, weight loss is depressing. Do I have the right to celebrate something when I maybe ought to be upset that I got myself that big to begin with?

Yes, I do.

I can't change the mistakes I made as a little kid, trying to ignore loneliness by binge eating, filling the emptiness in my heart with food. Maybe someday, at my goal weight, I'll be able to have surgery for my loose skin.

But the stretch marks - those don't go away. Those marks will always be there, a reminder of a different time.

So, I can't wait for stretch marks from pregnancy. For marks on my body with a purpose. Ones I don't feel guilty for. These stretch marks won't be from sitting in my grandparents' dark and cold house as a teen eating cans of Chef Boyardee and chicken nuggets, or from the countless dozens of cupcakes and cake balls that helped induce my carb comas in grad school, or from crying in my apartment in California and eating pizza. They'll be from doing something good with my body - carrying and properly nourishing my child.

16 comments:

Jen said...

Bravo, Mary -

I got pregnant before my weight loss journey and piled on even more weight while pregnant. When I gave birth I reached my highest weight ever, even so, I never felt more comfortable in my skin.

After having Ben and peeling off the weight - I've been left with a few marks and bumps on my belly but they are a roadmap to where I've been as a person and I try to embrace that.

Frickin' Fabulous at 40 said...

Nothing can compare to the feeling of that baby making you aware he/she is there, growing inside you. Relish every moment of it.

carolinecalcote.com said...

Every moment spent feeling guilty about the loose skin or stretch marks is a moment wasted. I think if the loose skin is a genuine impediment or health concern, as it is for some people, then that's a different story. But if it's just vanity, I say get over it people! (not talking directly to you here Mary, ya know?) No1currrs! And if they do care, who cares what they think? Life is too fabulous to waste on vanity. Do I like my loose skin and stretch marks? No. But I also don't let them occupy my thoughts or inform my decisions about how to live. Maybe because I'm 43 and realize that life is short (and long) and that one day we will all be elderly if we are lucky I have mostly gotten over worrying about these things. I think that the attractiveness gained from confidence far outweighs the unattractiveness of stretch marks and loose skin.

Lorrie B. said...

I like your way of thinking about getting stretch marks pregnancy. Not everyone is so positive. I have my fair share of stretch marks as well but right now I'm trying to focus on all the positive things I have going on and not the few negatives. You will be a great motivating and inspirational mother!

Bailey @ Onederland or Bust! said...

I love how you turned something less desirable into something beautiful! The stretch marks from your weight gain/loss and pregnancy will both hold amazing stories behind them and you should be proud of both :)

Miss Carrie Ann said...

I've struggled with weight my entire life. When I was pregnant was the time in my life I was comfortable in my skin. For once I was SUPPOSED to have a big belly! Enjoy it all!

Tammy said...

I love reading your blog! I wish we lived closer to each other. You are such an awesome person & will make an even more awesome mommy!:) I think I have had stretch marks since I was like 2!LOL It's totally great feeling the baby move inside of you. There are so many fun things about being pregnant...just try to relax & enjoy the ride.:)

Poison said...

I'm so glad you can see all the upsides as well and that you feel you have the right to celebrate. You most certainly do. You deserve to be just as celebratory as any other mom to be no matter where their lives have taken them up unto this point.

Ellen FatGirlWearingThin said...

What a wonderful example you are, Mary. Truly. You're going to be such a great Mom :)

Jill said...

I just found your blog through runsforcookies and I am in love with your story and your writing! I started from close to the beginning and read all the way through. It was like a novel that I just couldn't put down! I found myself cheering on your success, rooting for your relationships and tearing up when things weren't going as well for you. You write beautifully(and are beautiful-inside and out). I am so happy that you seem to be in a good place right now and I hope you have a healthy and happy pregnancy and baby! Good luck with motherhood and continued success after your little one is here.

marisol said...

I am so excited that you are sharing your journey with us.

Renee said...

I call my C section scar my happy scar...it sorta curves up like a smile face across my lower belly. Like you & stretch marks, I had a different than most opinion of my beautiful births & loved my csections!

Amy said...

Such a fabulous post. You're going to be such an amazing mother!

Tim said...

I view all my marks and scars on my body in the same way. M body is like a book and each scar/mark represents a chapter.

❀❀ Dawn (Lay Down My Idols) said...

Awesome post! I do regard my baby stretch marks with respect - I am thankful that I was able to carry and give birth to my children and I wear my marks proudly (but not publicly, hehe)...Interesting perspective about weight gain/loss stretch marks. Something to ponder!
Dawn

Bluezy said...

Great news. Your baby can only be so very much as awesome as you and Matt.