When I was pregnant with my son, I was giddy about not getting any stretch marks. I already had stretch marks on my body (from weight gain and loss over the years), so I definitely didn’t want them all over my stomach. I was thrilled that my little boy spared me from the extra scars.
When I got pregnant with my daughter, I was confident that I would escape the stretch marks again. After all, my daughter of all people would understand the need to keep my stomach nice and smooth, right? I went through each month of my pregnancy feeling grateful for the smooth skin on my stomach. Then the unthinkable happened. I woke up one morning during my eighth month and a surprise greeted me in the mirror. Yep, good old stretch marks. I almost felt like they were laughing at me — snickering, “Gotcha!” I was not happy.
The stretch marks got worse, and I learned to accept them because I didn’t think any cream on earth would really help me out. After my daughter was born, I wasn’t too worried about my stretch marks. I had too many other things on my mind. But as the months progressed, I realized that these suckers were here to stay.
As I stared at myself in the mirror, I touched the incision scar I had from surgery I needed while pregnant with my son. I then looked at the stretch marks above the scar. I felt indifferent. I wasn’t upset about the marks, but I wasn’t in love either. They were just there, and as far as I could tell they would be there for the rest of my life.
Well something incredible happened in the last few months. I started working out regularly. I’ve lost some weight, but what has been far more liberating than the weight loss is the love affair I am having with my body and all the scars I’ve earned throughout the years. When I see my surgery scar, I smile because that surgery may have saved my son’s life. When I see my stretch marks, I think of the courage I have found since becoming a mom. When I look at my breasts, I am grateful for my health and the ability to breastfeed both of my kids. Working out has made me realize that my true beauty lies in my strength and courage, not in the smoothness of my skin.
I have grown to see stretch marks as a badge of honor, similar to an injury that an athlete has been able to not only survive, but also end up stronger and better because of it. These stretch marks remind me of how awesome my body truly is – how awesome every woman’s body is. When I see them, I see who I truly am and that makes me proud. I hope every mom out there with stretch marks eventually sees the same thing.