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Friday, June 12, 2015

Warning: This Body Has Stretch Marks. And That's OK

My body wasn't the same after having one baby, and it's definitely not the same after having two. AND THAT'S OK. In the spirit of my new collaboration with Pacific North Photography, The Mamas Project, which launched this month, I wanted to share about my own motherhood journey- the physical and emotional, because sometimes it can feel like all we see and hear on blogs and Instagram are the pretty moments, and the truth is that just isn't the whole picture.

This post isn't about getting attention, about fishing for compliments, or anything like that. It's about facing the challenges and insecurities that come with becoming a Mom and encouraging other women to look at what they see in the mirror after they have children and learning to accept and love what they see. Maybe you haven't lost all the baby weight, or your boobs aren't as perky; maybe you've got a scar from having a c- section, or have stretch marks where your abs once were. And that's ok. And just so you don't think I'm one of those women who flew through birthing babes without noticing a difference, I'm sharing some personal insecurities and reflections of my own along with photos of my post baby body (if you don't want to know what it looks like, don't scroll down- you've been warned).

I'm going to start by sharing some private information: I'm a size 7 (probably more like an 8 right now). My weight fluctuates; I usually weigh between 127- 132 lbs, depending on how healthy I'm eating and if I've been exercising. I returned to my pre- baby weight after my first after a few months, but have yet to see what my body and weight will go back to after having Liam. And before you start to think that doesn't sound so bad, here's the rest of what I want to share: I don't always feel sexy. I have itty- bitty little A- cups that seemed barely there after I finished nursing my first, and honestly I'm a little scared to see what's going to be left of them after I'm finished nursing #2. And while I am blessed with my Mum's fast metabolism, I have also inherited the same tell- tale signs that I've carried children that she does: varicose veins, spider veins, and stretch marks. Lots of them. Everywhere. 

While my body bounced back pretty quick after having my first, I'm noticing that this time it's taking longer to return to my pre- baby weight, and that my jeans still don't do up. No matter how many crunches or crazy contortions I try, I can't seem to get rid of my love handles or that little pudge of skin around my belly button that is the trademark of carrying children.

Under layers of clothes the changes aren't so noticeable, but stripped down there's no hiding the fact that my body's not the same. And here's a confession: Just because I can still fit in a bikini, I'm not sure I'll rock one in public again. I haven't decided yet. I'm not embarrassed or ashamed of how I look, but I don't feel that I'll gain any more confidence from proving to myself- or would it be to others?- that yes, I've had kids, but I can still wear a two- piece damn it! I don't care what people think of my stretch marks, but I don't need to flaunt them on the beach to prove that to myself. Accepting them quietly on the inside and sharing about that here with my readers is all the proof I need. This body has stretch marks, and that's ok.

After having Ari, I put my belly button ring back in almost as an act of defiance that my body hadn't changed that much. This time, I've tossed that idea out the window. I now have a line that stretches from my bikini line to above my belly button, which combined with the dark scar tissue from the piercing  has me thinking that that youthful piercing has run it's course; this is a more mature body with the scars to prove it. Retiring my only adventurous piercing isn't hurting my ego or a symbol of getting older, of getting a 'mom body'. I look at it, and the bikini in public thing, as gracefully embracing the changes that motherhood has made to my body and life. I would rather transition into different phases of life with class and grace than cling to vanities from earlier years in an act of defiance towards aging. I'm 27, I have a body marked by children, I'm not sure what swimming attire I'll be sporting this Summer, and that's ok.

I am lucky to have a husband who loves me and the body that has changed so much since we first met. I owe him a lot of credit for keeping my spirits high, my confidence intact on days where I have wavered. He reminds me that there is no such thing as perfect, that he loves me, all of me, and to not be hard on myself. Before I got pregnant I remember asking a lady I know and respect if she had stretch marks and what she thought of them. I've never forgotten what she said, especially since it resonates so strongly with me now. She told me not only did she have them, she was proud of them. They're her battle scars. Memories her body carries of the two children she carried and brought into the world. Just as I have now done. And I remember thinking how much I hoped that I would have that same outlook after having my own. Looking at my body today I sometimes get nostalgic for the 18- year- old abs I once had, but I wouldn't trade my kids to have that body back. My legs may have visible spider veins, my bum may have stretch marks (how I don't know, but they're there), and my tummy may always be a little soft & squishy, painted with stretch marks from each of my children. These are my battle scars. And that's ok.

This is a post I've been wanting to write for a while, but I needed the time and focus to write it the way I really wanted. This has been a little like writing in a diary, putting the thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head into something cohesive on paper (or rather, on screen). It's about sharing without prejudice the honest journey that our bodies- and we ourselves take- after becoming Mothers. It can be everything you hoped it would be, but you still need to allow yourself to reflect on and process the things that have changed, that are not the same. I am not who I was a few years ago, my body will never be the same, my life will never be the same. And that's ok, because it's all worth it.

How has becoming a Mom changed you physically and/ or emotionally? What personal journey have you taken as a Mother? 

Don't miss The Mamas Project, a collaboration between TPB & Pacific North Photography coming in June, a conversation about self love and finding success as our new roles as mothers.

June posts sponsored by Little Dreamers Consulting