Published on "Mamamia" Sunday 30th April 2017
As my very first (ever) stretch marks began to emerge, somewhere throughout my first pregnancy, I’m afraid to say, I cried.
I don’t think for me, that it was vanity. I struggle with change, or at least I have at times in the past (even chopping my mum bun off recently took some serious commitment). I think for me, simply, it’s hard to see something you’ve become so used to seeing, your own body, change so rapidly.
After all, I had become accustomed to my pre-pregnancy body slowly changing over the previous 27 years. Yet the changes that we experience during pregnancy are over but a fraction of the time that we had with our bodies before.
After a while, I accepted the changes (stretch marks and new outie belly button to be precise), even grew to be fond of them. After all, they represent one of my greatest accomplishments in life, my eldest daughter. And believe me when I say ‘accomplishment’, the kid didn’t sleep until she was three-and-a-half, it’s amazing that I’m even half as sane as I am.
When the time came for baby number two, I thought I was prepared for the changes. Yet like each child, each pregnancy can bring with it a whole different set of challenges. My first pregnancy, like my first child, was set out to take me to places that I’d never been before (awake all night… and not voluntarily like in my youth). To push me to let go of the things that I need to, and focus on what’s really important.
My second child, like my second pregnancy, came forth to show me just how much I was really capable of pushing things (mind, body and spirit). Just when I thought I had it all sorted out, thought I’d adjusted my head space accordingly, and knew what to expect, the second child came along to throw all of it on it’s head. To push me to my limits, and to show me just how far my mind and body could stretch, and just how much love I was capable of.
"I don’t think for me, that it was vanity. I struggle with change." (Image: Supplied)There were elements of my second pregnancy that felt easy, in the sense that I had been there before, I knew the morning sickness would end, that eventually all babies sleep through the night, and that labour is in fact the easy part… and that the hard part is what happens when you bring the baby home. But there are no two pregnancies that are exactly the same, not even for the same person… now I know.
I bounced back physically from my first pregnancy without any real issues, but my second pregnancy had pushed my body to the extreme, literally (10cm abdominal separation). It saddens me to say, that again, when I dared look in the mirror at my body, a mere six weeks later, still looking six months pregnant, I felt complete and utter despair (again I cried). I thought I knew what to expect, but this took me completely by surprise.
I threw myself into the chaos that was my life as a mum of two, 19 months apart, and tried to forget. Yet, eventually, bit-by-bit, everything returned to normal, or what would become my new ‘normal’. Some time, patience and a lot of hard work, I recovered, not back to the old me, but to a new and improved me. I realised how amazing and strong my body was. I think I had taken so much for granted in the past, but seeing how I’d brought it back (after a very long uphill climb), gave me an incredible appreciation for it.
Fast-forward almost exactly four years from the appearance of those very first stretch marks, and I’m sitting fat and happy at 26 weeks into my third pregnancy. I’m not sure what it is, whether it’s having been through some tough times, a little bit of age and maturity, or simply having finally worked out what’s worth worrying about in life, but I’m excited about it… about everything (Ok, still incredibly nervous about pushing a baby out of my hoo-ha, that part doesn’t change).
I’ve never felt more comfortable (not so much physically, because we all know that pregnancy has the uncomfortable factor, but in the mental sense) in my own skin. To me there’s something about my pregnancy body that fills me full of life again (literally). There’s a confidence there that I don’t normally possess, a sense of pride and self love that I wish I could feel all the time. Not only have the old marks reappeared, the ones placed on my body by this baby’s two older sisters, but some new ones too.
It might sound strange, but in some ways these marks are truly welcomed. Each of my children has left their mark on me, in so many ways. I’ve changed the way I approach life, I’ve learned to stop fighting unworthy battles, to accept what I cannot change, to work with the new me, instead of trying to go back to the old me. I don’t need the old me back, she’s not relevant anymore… her way of thinking, her body, her outlook (I would welcome her sleep habits back though) … because the new me, is so much better.
I’m definitely interested to see what my new body will look like after baby number three. I don’t know what to expect, I have to let it all go, and leave my expectations in the same drawer as the pregnancy tests I took (Is it just me, or does anyone else struggle to throw those things away?). I have no idea where this pregnancy will go, but for some reason, at this point (ask me again in a few weeks), I’m pretty cool about that.
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