Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Guest Post: Rockin' the Stretch Marks

My name is Melissa Turney. I live in Las Vegas, Nevada, where it is hot and miserable, but after three years I can finally call it home. I am a wife and a mommy to a three month old daughter, Hannah. I will graduate from UNLV in December and become the first female college graduate on my dad's side of the family. I became acquainted with this blog through Megan, who was my first friend ever, and I've decided to adopt the attitude that I'm pretty awesome (in a completely humble way).


I was recently saddened by a status update from a pseudo friend of mine who is 25 weeks pregnant. She said “_____ told me today that cocoa butter doesn’t work on stretch marks... sad face.” I can’t fully blame her for her dismay. I admit that I, too, had qualms about my post-baby body while I was pregnant, as my body was distorting to epic proportions. But I also recognize that I’ve never felt more beautiful than when I was pregnant. If pregnancy is wonderful and beautiful, then post-pregnancy is a mess.

Before I had Hannah, I had a pretty average body. I weighed in at about 130 pounds; my boobs were small, but firm; and my skin was all around smooth and stretch free. Naturally as my body changed I became a little self conscious. While I’ve never had to really watch what I eat, I confess it took a while for me to eat fast food in public because I didn’t want to be the girl with the pudgy tummy eating a Big Mac. I didn’t even enter the building to buy any food until I had an obvious baby bump that was obviously not just an extra flab of fat.

My friends told me that it was the coolest thing to give birth and watch your stomach go flat (in reality it is the coolest thing to actually give birth and watch a human come out of you… a human you already love so completely). I was intrigued by this, as I could no longer remember what it was like to NOT have a pregnant body. About thirty minutes after I gave birth (I was a little too occupied with my new daughter to care about my body) I finally looked down to notice my stomach. To my amazement it WAS flat. Hallelujah! Unfortunately, to touch it felt like kneading dough but who could have time to care about that (TOES! HOW I MISSED YOU!) when my body was so small. Well... not quite. I stood up for the first time and my flat stomach became a replica of 4 month pregnant me. Did I miss something? Twins perhaps? Alas, I still looked pregnant when I stood up and let it all hang loose--literally. Not only that, but my body continued to change drastically over the next few weeks. My small but firm boobs had become large and voluptuous during pregnancy. I couldn’t wait to try those babies out after the stomach was gone. Unfortunately, they were still NOT sexy. They were leaking all the time and when they were not large and in charge, they were shriveled and resembled old man breasts.

I have to admit for about a month I didn’t want my husband to see me naked EVER. I didn’t even want to see me naked. The boob situation got worse as I’d lie down and they would flop to their respective sides of my ribcage (lovely), and I had long circular marks stretching across my once taunt stomach. I was not an attractive sight. Then something happened that changed my whole perspective…

I went to church two months after Hannah was born and a woman stood up to the pulpit. She introduced herself and her husband. She talked about how they had been married for five years and had been very blessed in the beginning. They managed to buy a house in a time when the sellers had the upper hand, and decided to start a family in their new home. While they were blessed in almost every aspect in life, they were not conceiving a child--and after over a year of trying they were told that the woman would never carry a baby conceived naturally. They started on fertility treatments. Nothing worked. They went into debt to try costly alternatives and still nothing worked. Finally, they gave up their house in order to do invitro fertilization, and happily, she is expecting a baby girl in February.

I sat there and listened to her story, sobbing as I held my baby close to my imperfect body. That imperfect body had created, carried, and delivered the perfect little angel who now lights up my life. My unattractive breasts now sustain that life through the milk my imperfect body creates. I went home, bound and determined to be grateful for a body that was so perfectly able to conceive with hardly a thought and have a successful, comparatively easy pregnancy. A month after that life changing moment, I still am in awe at my beautiful stretch marks swirling around a body that obviously has accomplished something miraculous. I roll out of bed, pick up my boobs off the floor, and face each day feeling more beautiful than ever, and grateful for the opportunity to be a woman. Grateful to carry the scars of childbirth, the dark circles from a lack of sleep, the lines on my eyes from smiling too much; and grateful for the perspective that I may now share with my daughter when she is feeling less than perfect.

16 comments:

Meg said...

Melissa, I love this post - and the fact that you wrote one and I didn't know until Lin said she was scheduling it to post! We talk a lot about feeling good about ourselves in spite of our flaws here, but I think we sometimes forget that the reason we don't have perfect bodies is often that we are doing something more important than sitting in a spa all day. (Plus, you know, we've spent our money on something besides a team of makeup experts.) I love you and your adorable chubby baby. :)

Sydney Vivian Lambson said...

I love this post. Isn't it amazing that a women's body can do just that, have a child. And your body is imperfect just because it doesn't fit your expectations.

annie said...

thank you for this post! it's seriously the stuff i would write if i could get the guts up to tell everyone that i have to pick my boobs up off the floor every morning too! well, there, i just told everyone. thank you for reminding me to love my body for the beauty it can create. i used to mourn the loss of my smooth skin, but really...i hardly spent any time with it at all....i'll spend much more of my life with my stretch marks, so i might as well make friends with them!

Lin said...

So I just have to say, that when I read this post (which I love), all I could think was, "Um. I've been picking my boobs off the floor since I got them in 5th grade." And I wasn't thinking that in a "haha!" kind of way but in a "boo" kind of way because I'm kind of frightened about where they will go when I do have babies. Also, what will happen to my feet?! They are already a size 10. Bah.

It's good to know I will have this post to look back on and remind myself to appreciate all that awesome stuff because of what it truly means...that I could bring a baby into the world. Women are cool. Go us.

Sean and Jennie said...

This is an amazing post! Thank you!!! I have been worrying a lot about how my body will change when I get pregnant and after. It is so refreshing to think about the miracle of birth and the true beauty of the female body. I also love what Sydney said, your body is only imperfect because you perceive it that way. It certainly is hard for me (and probably most women) to perceive my body as anything but imperfect. I suppose we all need to remember what is important and what we are capable of.

Melissa said...

I just realized how much I talked about boobs here :p but I have noticed how my perspective has changed since having a baby. I'm really proud of my body for being able to do something like that. It is truly amazing that we have the opportunity. I also loved what Sydney said too Jeannie- perfection is in the eye of the beholder. I think an attitude of loving your body goes beyond what it looks like and is more about what it can do...(walk, work, live, love, hug, kiss, care, see, hear, etc)

Julie W said...

Amen to post pregnancy is a mess. On an encouraging note, if your baby is only 3 months old, give your body more time to heal. You will be amazed at how your body can rebound, the stretch marks fade and the gym really does help! My 3rd baby is 11 months old and my body still continues to get back to normal.

Whenever I feel sad about my non-youthful body, I remember how amazing it is to have children. Everything you say is true. We really are blessed to have the opportunity to have destroyed bodies!

Cathryn Matheson said...

Beautiful, Melissa! Thanks for your thoughts. I think we girls need to hear things like this more often, pregnant or not. It's hard to be happy about the way we look when we feel like the people whose opinions matter expect plastic surgery perfection of us. Great reminder that we're often our own toughest critics. :)

Elise said...

This post is fabulous. Not only are the ideas great but the writing is lovely. And I got the greatest mental picture of picking ones boobs up from the floor. 10 out of 10.

Kinsey said...

Oh my goodness I LOVED this post! You're helping me cope with my worst fear, lol. I worry way too much about how my body will look after kids, and I'm not even pregnant and haven't had any kids yet! :)

Margie said...

You are beautiful Melissa. Both inside and out. This was fun to read and I'm grateful for your perspective.

Marivic said...

Beautiful and very smart perspective. I totally enjoyed reading this. Great job, Melis!

Kathy--SMILE!! said...

Melissa, THANK YOU! Like Elise said, "And I got the greatest mental picture of picking ones boobs up from the floor. 10 out of 10." That was a striking image! You are a good writer and a lucky, wonderful, new mother! I love you!

fidjiti said...

thanks for this awesome post. You know, I think I can finally admit that I was skinny before I got pregnant. Everyone told me so and well, I never believed them until now. Now, I know I WAS skinny! I think that alone brings me joy, to finally believe old compliments. This brings me to post pregnancy. After trying for about 7 yrs and finally getting pregnant, I don't really obsess over my body as much as others. (i'm sure to everyone's dismay) I kind of just look in the mirror and say, "well that's the new mommy me," and move on with my day. I guess it's cause I KNOW that if I just worked-out I could get back my skinny body, but I don't want to sacrifice the time I spend with our son. And I do other things with my time which I value more than working out anyways. I'm glad I am not the only one who sees it my way. Like Julie always tells me, we'll have perfect bodies when we're resurrected. She's so smart!

Bea said...

I enjoyed this post. Made me smile. Thank You. and thank you for a beautiful Hannah.

Laura said...

I am crying. That's all.