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Loving my Tiger Stripes

I started earning my “tiger stripes” around 11 weeks, when I was still down a pound from my pre-pregnancy weight. Tiny pink lines started playing peekaboo just below my belly button (back when I could still see my belly button), but then those lines grew and branched out until the whole front portion of my stomach was covered in wide, bright pink stripes.

I stopped putting creams and oils on them sometime in my second trimester and just let them grow wild. My husband told me over and over again that he didn’t mind them and even found my new body sexy. As for me, I loved what they represented and felt beautiful in my own new skin. I loved pregnancy. Of course I had bad and sick days, but for the most part? I absolutely loved it. I felt beautiful; I felt like being pregnant and keeping my child safe while she grew is what I was created for.

During those nine months, one of the things that helped me cope with my stretch marks was coming across a particular quote (the quote’s in the photo below). When I read it for the first time I felt more than okay about what my lines represented. It made me cry then and to be honest, it still makes me cry. The first time I came across that picture and quote was the moment I realized how much I needed a picture of my belly, stretch marks and all.

I’m not one for showing skin, especially in photos and especially when I felt as big as a whale, but I felt like I needed a picture of my marks in all their glory. So during our maternity session I had the photographer take a picture of the bump. Unbuttoning my shirt left me completely nervous and vulnerable of my body. But now, two months after giving birth, I really wish I took more bare belly shots, not only that, but I wish I didn’t ask her to crop out my head. I wish I owned up to my body and was proud enough to show it off then instead of hiding behind a crop.

tiger-stripes.jpg
 

Two days before my scheduled induction I read this wonderful article while hot tears ran down my cheeks. Since my belly was stretched to its max, I could only imagine the squishy feeling and the future she described; I vividly imagined having that same conversation with my daughter as she pretended to put on makeup beside me. Now that my stomach has deflated and I’m left with permanent zig-zagging lines across my tummy, I’m clinging to her words, realizing what my new body truly represents. I pray, that no matter frustrating it is for me to get used to my new post-pregnancy look, that I’ll be able to embrace how it and share how I got my tiger stripes with my daughter some day.

I’ll always treasure this photo and I hope my daughter will realize that not everyone looks the way they do in magazines or on film and that she’ll know I’m as real as it gets; I hope she’ll love me just as I am—ugly lines, squishy belly, and everything else that comes with age and my new postpartum look. These are the lines of our story and there’s nothing to be ashamed of.

*linking up with Story of my Life‘s #blogeverydayinmay challenge

20 Comments

  1. Wild applause over here! Good for you! Most women would cover them in shame, even though the majority of us have stretch marks. I've got them, but they have faded so much over time that I'm probably the only one who notices them. I never had maternity pictures, but I love this!

  2. Good for you lady! My stretch marks showed up in my boobs… awkward? My husband just laughed and said that's what I get for them growing so fast. Like I had a choice. Every way my body is different now just reminds me of how amazing it was to grow my daughter and I wouldn't trade it for anything. xo

  3. Wow! How very brave and wonderful for you to share this! TONS of admiration over here. It is so very refreshing to see "real" posts like this about pregnancy and parenting. Thank you for sharing!

  4. I love this!! I vividly remember a day not too long ago when I was nursing my 1 year old son. He was pinching a roll of belly fat, and I mumbled something along the lines of "Gee … thanks for playing with my rolls, kid!" To which my three year old piped in "I love you soft belly, mom!" It was in that moment that I realized, I dont need to be a size two. My children love me the way I am … and THAT is all that matters!

  5. I'm so glad you took that picture and put it out here! Your body was doing exactly what it needed to grow your little baby. I've always been super in-shape and lost the baby weight pretty quickly, but I still have some little silver stripes and more jiggle than before. And you know what? It doesn't bother me one bit 🙂

  6. I'm so with you – I know stretch marks are genetic and my mom had a ton…so I never bothered with creams. Mine are just now beginning to fade, but it's definitely an adjustment to look at myself in the mirror and see them. So brave of you to take a picture – I couldn't do it!

  7. I have a picture much like that one from my first pregnancy. I packed it away a long time ago and have never dug it out. When I had my second baby I didn't take one belly picture. Not even a covered one.

    I think I need to dig that picture out and take a good look at it for what it is. The amazing home that grew one of the dearest loves of my life.

  8. Love this!

    Girls are so much fun but also a little intimidating when you think about the world and it's impending influence on them right?

    Love the way you put this and I love that photo! I don't have stretch marks but I have other things left over from pregnancy number one that have made me super self conscious with pregnancy #2. Definitely need to keep this in mind for the next 9 weeks!

    Thanks Jess!

  9. Wow. I'm currently almost 33 weeks pregnant and this is a great post. I think it's important for women to love their bodies at all times — even post-baby. Your body went through so much to create that child, you should be proud of every change you now possess. Great post.

  10. What a beautiful post and encouraging message to send along to your daughter. Thank you so much for sharing!

    I am an Army wife and currently pregnant with my third boy. I just saw your blog on My Traveling Troop and had to pop over to say hello. I look forward to following along.

  11. Playing catch up…this post is AWESOME! So heartfelt and inspiring to all of us "someday" mommies out there who are worried our bodies will never be the same again. That quote is perfect in every way! Thanks for being so open and candid, Jess!

  12. I love this post. I found you through the FB group. Be proud of those marks, something infinitely beautiful was formed as a result. Stay strong!

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