Becoming a mother was the most exciting and blissful part of my life. The idea of harboring a new life for 9 whole months and bringing a pure soul into this world had me jumping with joy the minute I received the pregnancy news. However, through the journey, I realized that I did not enjoy all aspects of it and sadly didn’t embrace a lot of it either. The third trimester hit the worst when my stretch marks crept in.
I was a young mother and was used to receiving a compliment for having my life put together at such an early age. I had it all, a flourishing career, a loving husband, and youthful beauty. Having a baby would have completed my dream life, but it shattered my inner self instead.
Having to look at myself in the mirror every day, gaining weight, and counting each new stretch mark, drained my self-esteem. I remember thinking about when the baby will come out and stop stretching my body and then drowning in a pool of guilt for feeling that way.
After giving birth, I hit my lowest. My gym-fit curvy body was now sagging. I had angry stretch marks around my belly and the usual postpartum loose skin made me feel ugly. Many people believe that the hard part is over after delivery, but in my experience, it is just the beginning.
As I have learned over the years that, the early months after pregnancy are critical for both the mother and the child, sadly I spent my early post-pregnancy months dwelling in baby blues and physical insecurities. It’s been three years since my baby was born, and a lot of research, bravery, and speaking out has helped me look at my stretch marks as a tiger stripe rather than a scar.
The Lowest Point in My Life
I was naive enough to convince myself that I could change my body entirely if I put that much effort into it. I canceled a lot of plans with family and friends in hopes that I could reschedule once I dealt with my stretch marks.
In the early months of breastfeeding, I started wearing a trainer, and a tightening band throughout the day hoping to help keep the belly tight. I applied all kinds of lotions, creams, and oils from the internet in hopes that my stretch marks would fade away.
I kept myself on strict diets and strenuous workouts for almost a year. I am sure, some of you can relate that when you push yourself towards an unrealistic ideal, the efforts rarely pay off. I wasn’t constant with my extreme diet and felt miserable every time I had a craving. Nonetheless, even after all these efforts, I found myself in a hopeless state where my body was just not the same as it was before pregnancy.
The Final Eye-opener
This is when I started thinking. I had been so busy earlier trying to go back that I forgot how to move on. Not being invested in remedies and techniques to push my body to the social media ideals gave me clarity.
One day my son came home from school and asked if we could go to the school. As always, I declined with a lame excuse and his dad took him. When he came back all excited and told me how much fun he had with his dad. I kept listening to him and thinking, is a perfect waist, and butter-smooth belly really worth sacrificing all the precious memories with my son?
This was the turning point of my journey as a mom.
How I Learned to Embrace My “Mom” Body
Honestly, the first steps were hard. But once I embarked on the journey to accepting myself and apologetically being ME, the rest of the steps automatically followed.
I went on a pool trip with my family for the first time in two years since my son was born. I had packed full trousers, a belly belt, and a lot of other items to hide my marks but what I saw there was surprising. Many new moms were at the kid’s pool in flashy swimsuits, with no regrets and shame for their sagging bellies and big smiles on their faces.
I remember thinking to myself, I want what they have!
Before I knew it, I became a regular at the pool and started talking to other moms. Turns out we all have stretch mark insecurities, talking to them was so comforting because they related to my struggles so well and helped me realize that it's okay to not have an insta-perfect body. They introduced me to some new mom influencers who share their experiences and how they tackle their stretch marks-related insecurities.
One step led to another and I changed my life for the better. Instead of following insane diets from YouTube, I visited nutrition to help plan out a healthy, delicious, and filling diet that keeps me fit and most importantly satisfied. I read books by new mom authors about post-pregnancy pain, baby blues, and stretch mark origins and really invested in learning more about being a mother.
I realized I didn’t give myself enough credit. Becoming a mom is a great achievement. A major reason is impeding pressure from social media to look a certain way – the unrealistic filter on real skin and real body with Photoshop and airbrushing.
Not being a certain kind of pretty, was the major reason why I was so insecure. Our body has gone through so much to bring a new life into this world and it is so strong for being able to bear all that. The stretch marks are a reminder of what we, women are capable of. They are a part of us, a new chapter forward rather than a downfall. Sadly, you don’t see social media telling you that.
Now, I am Unapologetically ME and I Love it!
I haven’t gone back to my ‘original’ body because I never lost it. The loose belly with stretch marks is my original body, this is how it should be and I am happy with that. I am pregnant again after three years and will be blessed with a baby girl. I am sure I will raise her to be a confident woman and be the right role model she needs now.