Saturday, February 4, 2012

No matter how you spin it, stretch marks are ugly.

So I don't know if you've seen it recently, but there is a photo circulating the internet that provides a nice, fiery take on stretch marks. 

It's inspiring. It's fierce. It's empowering. It makes me want to stand up and scream out "HELL yeah" while doing a triple air punch and then karate-chopping a mirror. Are you ready? Here it is.

Did you do it too? Did you stand up and scream while karate-chopping a mirror? 

Actually, I don't really feel like doing that. Inspiring and "own yourself" as that message is, I actually don't look at my stretch marks like that.

Because they're ugly, no matter how you spin it.

I received my first stretch mark at either 31 or 33 weeks, with my first pregnancy. I can't believe I don't remember anymore which week it was because it was really upsetting to me. I literally cried when I saw that first slash worming its way through my skin.

Incredibly superficial, vain, selfish and petty? You betcha! But I don't care!

I cried because I knew it was just one of many that were on their way. I still had weeks and weeks to go, and I did not want my mid-section turned into... well... a rash of goddamn tiger stripes. Or more accurately, to look like I had been attacked by a tiger.

Deep down, I had been hoping to - but understanding that I probably wouldn't - escape pregnancy relatively unscathed physically. Before becoming pregnant, I had a nice body that I put time and effort into, and I was comfortable in my skin.  

And once I saw that first stretch mark, I knew it was over. Even if, after the baby was born, I returned to the exact same physique (which, duh, I did not), my skin was not going to be the same. Unlike the pregnancy, this was permanentSure, one can say to me, "hey bitch, it was for your babies, get over yourself" but that's not going to change my attitude. What it will change is the position of my hands - into a big sarcastic two thumbs up... with my middle fingers. 

Because, as mothers, we are expected to adopt the attitude that anything, anything, that has to do with or is for our babies is to be embraced with love and respect and joy. And if we don't, then GASP, aren't we just miserable bitches who don't deserve our children. I don't buy that. 

And three babies later, it's quite clear that I am never going to. I don't think we should be expected to celebrate every single thing, good or bad, just because it has to do with our kids. That's basically worship. Now, I love my babies. Good God, do I love them. But I don't worship them, nor do I worship everything that has to do with them. Especially the bad.

I definitely don't worship my stretch marks. Being pregnant, especially with my first, I knew that my life was changing and I would be giving up a lot of myself (including, eventually, large chunks of my sanity) for those babies, and I was fine with that. Now, they have my heart, they stole my sanity, can I just have my old body back, please? I don't want to permanently wear some "badge" of motherhood, although my c-section scar isn't going away, either. My kids are my badge. And I don't need to wear them to be reminded of them. They take care of that just fine on their own.

Oddly enough, my c-section scar, for some reason, doesn't bother me. Probably because I don't really see it, and it's relatively low so nobody else does, either. And it's kind of cool to be able to show the boys the scar and be like, "Hey, look, that's where you came out of." The moms who gave birth the other way certainly can't do that. Or at least, they really shouldn't be doing that.... *shudder*

Maybe when my boobs are sagging so low that they cover the marks, I won't really care about them anymore. In the meantime, I do not celebrate them. But for those of you mamas for whom that saying empowers: YEAH! What an awesome way to look at those stripes. Stand up proudly and wear those belly shirts - metaphorically, please. I just won't be standing there with you. I'll be busy shopping for some StriVectin. (Does that stuff actually work, anyone know?) 

And finally, I really want to give a shout out to the person who typed the caption in the photo and correctly used "you're" and "your". I really like that. I appreciate it - and that they didn't use the ungodly "ur", either. Very nice.

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  1. I enjoyed this immensely, Elizabeth. I also cried when I began receiving my first batch of stretch marks, and even though that was 23 years ago, they are still with me, today, sadly. The boys are definately worth it, but, damn, what a sacrifice! Our poor bodies really do get put through the ringer.
    P.S. No, StriVectin does not work. I have purchased, used, and returned the product.


  2. I beat my chest with my fists when I saw that picture! My girls call them snail trails ;)

  3. Glad you liked it, Denise! And that I'm not the only one who cried! Thanks for the input on StriVectin, too. I had used some briefly, then ended up pregnant again and couldn't use it, then it expired by the time I could, so I didn't really get to figure out its effectiveness.

    @Anonymous, that's the spirit!

  4. This could be the most amazing thing I have ever read. I LOVE (love love love love) your perspective on 'worshipping' our children. Wow, I am so gald that there are other Mommies out there who love those children to the ends of the earth and will allow themselves to feel real emotions... completely acceptable emotions... regarding motherhood. Thank you for this refreshing )and may I saw mentally/psychologically healthy) perspective.

    Katie (new and now devouted reader)

  5. Yay, Katie, glad to have you! Thank you for your very nice words, too!


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