Three years ago I was living my dream teaching English in Thailand. I had a great job and good friends and was very blessed. Although I didn’t make much money by western standards, I was rich in Thailand and my money went far. I led a very selfish life eating take-out every meal, going to the movies, shopping, spending weekends on the beach and holidays traveling other countries.
Despite all of this, I felt like something was missing. I desperately wanted to meet my “soul mate”, start a family and settle down. Seeing the beauty that the world had to offer suddenly didn’t satisfy me unless I had someone to share it with. So, I cleaned out half of my wardrobe and started to sleep on one side of the bed. I dreamed of having children nearly everyday because those Thai kids are seriously the cutest kids I’ve ever seen.
It was shortly thereafter that I met my partner Shun who swept me off my feet and changed EVERYTHING. We started to plan a life together but I guess it’s true what they say about whatever you put out into the universe comes back to you, because it wasn’t long after that we found out we were pregnant. All of a sudden my life felt like it was crashing all around me. What should have been a very special and exciting time in my life became very stressful and I felt ashamed. Due to many other commitments and problems with visa paperwork we were forced to live on separate sides of the world.
Much of my pregnancy I felt ashamed because people were very judgmental of me being pregnant out of wedlock. I felt guilty because my partner was missing all of the exciting changes and experiences that he should have been a part of. And I was exhausted because I was working two jobs trying to save up for our future together.
By the end of my pregnancy I was huge! I had gained sixty-seven pounds, had so much water retention that I looked like I was going to burst, my ass went on and on and ON forever (really), my hair was a lot thinner and was falling out, and my already big feet grew two sizes. Everywhere I went people commented on how big I was and it would bring me to tears. I worried that Shun wouldn’t love me anymore because I didn’t look like the person he had fallen in love with, and I worried that I would be big and ugly forever. I was terrified of getting stretch marks and lathered on Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Lotion and Bio Oil from the day I found out I was pregnant. But, in the end I was stretched so much to accommodate my son that my knees, thighs, back and belly were covered with them.
I had my heart set on having a natural birth but, because my blood pressure was so high, Kai was so big and he kept having an irregular heartbeat, I was induced a few days before my due date. I was lucky that Shun could be there to experience it and we could welcome our son into the world together. Somehow, despite being induced, I was able to give birth to my ten pound nine ounce son without pain medication.
Shun had to return home and I took on the role of a single mother for six more months. I breastfed and hoped that I would shed the baby weight quickly but my body worked against me and I continued to gain weight. I now know this is because pregnancy and giving birth to such a big baby has left me with pre-diabetes and possibly (still in the process of confirming diagnosis) Celiac Disease. The stress of being alone, having a baby who was very unsettled and the trauma on my body played a huge role in my negativity and self-hatred.
One minute I would adorn my baby and the next I would be avoiding mirrors and photos and resenting him for destroying my body. I hated going shopping because I was so much bigger then I was before. I hated seeing pictures of myself because my otherwise always perfect skin broke out after giving birth and left me with scars on my face. The under eye circles were so dark from being a single mother and having a baby who didn’t like to sleep. I hated the muffin top that stared back at me and was devastated by a body riddled in huge blue and purple-cratered stretch marks. I cried a lot of tears and I spent most of my time at home because I was embarrassed of how awful I looked.
Like most woman I’ve never been comfortable with my body. I never felt thin enough or pretty enough. I hated wearing bathing suits or letting my boyfriend see me naked, but childbirth made these feelings much more extreme. I couldn’t help but compare myself to the “skinny bitches” in Hollywood or at the shopping centers. You know the ones-they bounce back and fit in their pre-pregnancy jeans two weeks after giving birth, don’t have a stretch mark on them and always look put together with their perfect hair and makeup.
I am now nineteen months postpartum and stopped breastfeeding five months ago. It’s only been recently that it feel like my body is slowly healing itself and I am beginning to accept this “new me”.
When I look in the mirror I see breasts that are saggy, a bit lopsided and have stretch marks on them BUT I feel proud knowing I nourished my son with natures milk and gaving him the best start that I could possibly give him.
I see a muffin top hanging over my jeans and thighs that have cratered stretch marks all over BUT my stretch marks have faded a lot over time and the muffin top continues to shrink. Both serve as a reminder of how lucky I am to experience pregnancy and childbirth and to be grateful for it, as many women are not as lucky.
I see a distorted belly button and the crater it noticeably leaves under each t-shirt that I wear. My bellybutton never popped out when I was pregnant. Rather, it was stretched so much that I didn’t have a bellybutton at all. Now I feel guilty for worrying so much about it while I was pregnant and am glad that my body could transform and adapt to carry my son-what an amazing miracle don’t you think?
I still dawn huge dark circles under my eyes from sleep deprivation because my son is an awful sleeper BUT they serve as a reminder of my strength and my dedication to my son. Even exhausted I am always there for him.
I ended up with a lot of stitches from the birth which left me with some pain and discomfort for many months after BUT it has gotten better over time. I cry when I see a funny movie and nearly pee my pants BUT it serves as a reminder that I need to exercise and take care of myself.
Despite the rocky road that brought me to today I feel incredibly lucky and blessed to have a beautiful family of my own. My son is the most amazing little man and every time he smiles at me I know all of the stress, pain and sacrifices were worth it. He likes mommies belly, stretch marks and all. And you know what? I do too. Because they are a part of him. And because even when my son grows up I will always have his baby tattoos to remind me of the precious time he spent in my womb and the beauty that he has created in my life. I am blessed beyond measure.
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