Saturday, August 29, 2015

Baby Weight and Stretch Marks, Eeeee Gads!

Let's just start with the fact that I am absolutely loving all the positive body image stuff that's been tossed about on the internet recently. I feel like people forget to add the tagline *as long as you're healthy* but I guess the pendulum has to swing hard at first if it's going to get anywhere at all. So Yay!

That's probably why it makes me sad how absolutely obsessed a hefty chunk of women are about baby weight and stretch marks. How do I get my old body back? How do I make stretch marks go away? What diet, cleanse, wrap, oil, product, miracle should I buy to be what I was before but better?! 

Pregnancy is crazy; you don't know how your body is going to change. Chances are you'll have to combine a lot of advice and mix and match story bits from others to match what you will go through, and if you are blessed enough to have another baby that pregnancy will probably be completely different than the first one was. It really grates on our modern sensibilities, our need for solid, unchangeable courses of action. Our need to become this unattainable ideal of what a human body should be.

As women we have it bad. I don't know who did it to you, I don't know why they did it, I can't tell you when it happened to you, but I remember the moment it happened to me. When the 'self image' monster ate my courage and logic and left me with an issue I might have to carry and fight till the day I die. 
I was 5 or 6, my sister had just cut all the hair off my brand new barbie doll that I'd gotten as an Easter gift. As a poor kid I didn't get a lot of new toys, this doll was the most awesome and beautiful thing to me and my little sister had ruined it. While crying and yelling at my little sister my grandmother came in the room and tried to console me. I would not be consoled; I was justified in my angry sadness and I would cry! She turned me to face the vanity mirror over the dresser and said words that are burned into my mind in perfect clarity. Even now almost a quarter of a century later I can hear her voice as if she still had her head over my left shoulder looking in the mirror with me. "Look at that ugly face. A pretty girl like you should never make a face that ugly."
To this day I cannot cry in front of another person without hiding my face. I will run away to be alone, I will hide, I will do the ridiculous to keep people from seeing my 'ugly face.' If Jex and I are arguing and I get upset enough to cry I cover my face with my hands so we can keep trying to resolve the issue but so he can't see my ugliness. 

Pregnancy is the great inflater. It takes these things and makes them more real, harder to ignore, bigger and heavier than they are. Women who would like to have lost a pant size and eat healthier are now absolutely horrified at their waist measurement even though that waist has another human being growing inside of it! They loose their minds when they have to eat saltines and coke for a day because they're too nauseated for anything else. These perfectly sane women are distraught over the marks that will forever 'ban' them from cute swimwear for the rest of their lives. They focus so hard on the weight they're gaining (Is it too much? Too little?!) and the flaws they're getting, or might get, on their skin. It almost becomes an obsession. 
It breaks my heart. 

Baby weight and stretchmarks, the price we pay for precious babies, become scars instead of badges of honor or rights of passage. Sure, if we lived where we could afford good food and traditional diets we might not be so bad off. But the fact of the matter is we don't. We live in our world, however imperfect. We need to remember that a little extra weight makes our laps more inviting to sleepy children and comforting to our hurting and confused middle-schooler. We need to remember that our stretch marks are proof of our babies' life inside of us and the strength we had to carry them for as long as we did. We need to remember that we are human and there is no such thing as 'perfect.' 
We need to allow ourselves to be good enough and let go of the idol ideal that screams at us in magazine adds and covers, that people fight against in strange and extreme ways, and be who and what we are without shame. Doing our best to be better every day. To let our hearts be lighter than before. 

My mom's lap is a comforting place to be, she is soft and warm with arms strong enough to protect me from anything. Her stretch marks look like fire, and remind me that if she loved me before she could see me or know me, she can love me even now. 

Remember my lovlies, The light heart lives long. 

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