I hold the baby in my arms now.
I can once again roll out of bed, see my toes, and even reach down to the floor to pick up scattered toys and tiny socks.
Stopping to look in the mirror, I suck in my stomach and turn to view my profile, looking for signs of progress in my body’s return to “normal.”
What’s this? Dark streaks on my lower abdomen catch my eye. Indentations from the pre-pregnancy jeans I’ve been squeezing into, perhaps? I rub them to see if they’ll fade. No. Sure enough, these are stretch marks.
My first thought is to wonder what I could have done to prevent them… or what I can do to erase them…or whether they’ll fade on their own. But then I get to thinking…
I think of the way my skin stretched to hold the growing life within (and has more or less bounced back!). I think of the doubled volume of blood that coursed through my veins. Of the organ that grew for the sole purpose of supporting the life being knitted together in my womb. I think of the 8 pounds of human that rolled and squirmed and wiggled within. Of the 20-1/2 inches of boy that stretched and punched and kicked (and boy, did he kick!). The 300+ baby bones held. The rapidly beating heart. The perfectly formed fingers and toes.
And now when I see these marks on my body, I start to see them as reminders of the miracle that formed them. Lingering outward signs of the precious life that was formed within. Tattoos with a story to tell.
So maybe instead of wishing to “get my body back,” I can start to accept the body I now have… the body of a mother.
Maybe instead of comparing myself to our culture’s standard of beauty and being ashamed of the changes I see in myself, I can embrace a new beautiful.
Maybe instead of looking for ways to erase the signs of pregnancy, I can treasure the story told by the scars I wear.
And maybe, just maybe, I can actually learn to love my stretch marks.