The last two plus weeks of my pregnancy, I never did hit the get it out stage (think Sookie having a pregnant breakdown in the middle of the kitchen). I never got to have my crazy, past-her-due-date pregnant lady freak out moment. I had plenty of others. I will willingly admit to that. Just ask my husband.
Actually…don’t do that.
Yes, I was excited to meet and hold my tiny baby. Yes, I had everything ready and just wanted her here already. After all, nine months is a long time to wait to meet someone you grew inside your body. Yes, I reached that emotional level of being as ready as I’ll ever be for the Bringing Her Painfully Into This World part. (Can you ever be ready for that part as a first time mom? The answer you’re looking for is no. Hate to break it to you, ladies). I did reach the point where I wanted her out. But it took me a long time to admit that it wasn’t solely for the fluffy reasons you hear other mamas talk about.
I wanted her out because every day I had a new stretch mark.
And boy, did seeing those stripes on my body make me cringe. I looked at them with vain, hormone-filled eyes as they etched their way across the curves of my body and I just crumbled. They came with rapid force toward the end. My body held out for so long. Why was I not warned about this? I was in the clear for eight whole months. I thought I was golden. I slathered on the thick creams routinely and meticulously in front of the mirror nightly as I watched my stomach move and grow. With each disgusted thought I hated even associating the way I felt seeing them to her. And with every horribly vain thought, I felt even more guilty. It was truly a vicious cycle. I wept in bed on more than one occasion hating my body and what it was becoming. I couldn’t just easily accept and adopt the, ‘I am woman hear me roar’ attitude I so often heard others chanting during pregnancy.
I wanted to.
Oh, how much did I want to put on that face and slip into that role. It must be so empowering. But I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t force myself to. Not genuinely, at least. I never got to that point. I’m still working towards that mentality postpartum. I was amazed at what my body was doing. Absolutely. I’d be a complete and utter fool if I didn’t acknowledge that. The way it housed and provided for her. The way it gave her nutrients and helped pump blood to her growing body from mine. The way it stretched to accommodate all 8 pounds, 4 ounces of her in the last days.
One morning, shortly after she was born I wept for a different, less anxious reason.
I wept to let go. I wept to move on.
I cried in the early hours of a morning feeding, just her and I. Her tiny foot had pulled my nursing tank top up above my stomach, revealing those same stretch marks I once hated. I looked down at my body and my belly through half-asleep eyes, different eyes than the ones that had looked at them a few weeks ago. The same marks I so loved and hated the last month of pregnancy. The same body that spent two physically-anguishing hours forcing her into the world. I looked at her, wide-awake starting to stare up at me and I cried.
I forgave myself.
For all of it. For the thoughts.
For the guilt.
It was cleansing. Freeing. Unexpected. Like most of what I’m experiencing in motherhood, it was a process. A process infused with emotions and lessons, humility, grace, and vulnerability. I made room for acceptance and appreciation. Knowing that every single flaw isn’t really a flaw at all. After all, on account of sounding the utmost cliché, those stretch marks I loved to hate brought me her.