There is an excited buzz in the air as one of my dearest friends awaits the arrival of her first born son who is expected to debut in the next month, however, as the time draws closer and closer she is becoming more anxious for the whole process and everything to follow.
I am reminded daily of the day I welcomed my baby into the world, not only because of her precious presence but also, from the physical reminders that came with her. I decided to post something that I wrote for Becoming Lovely last November. Some of you may have read it.
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.