My body felt like Stretch Armstrong during both pregnancies! I watched it expand and stretch further than I thought the human body was capable of doing. My feet were swollen, my stomach was larger than life, and my little miracle was consistently reminding me he was cooking inside the cramped corners by pushing and kicking me from the inside.
I'll never forget that moment laying on the bed and watching the imprint of a tiny foot literally move across my stomach. It reminded me of the famous scene in the movie Alien, but thanks to modern technology, I was pretty confident my baby was destined to be much cuter and cuddlier.
And I remember hearing stories of women with petite statures like myself who gained the recommended weight during their pregnancy and even lost those extra inconvenient pounds easily afterwards. Well . . . good for them. But that was NOT my reality. With baby #1, I gained over 55 pounds and the second pregnancy around 45 glorious pounds. If you've ever met me in person, you know that is an absurd amount of weight for my size. The average kindergarten weighs around 40 pounds for goodness-sake! This little lady was basically carrying around an elementary school student for months . . . that truly takes a toll on one's body.
My selfish prayer and desire during my first pregnancy was to not look like a barn-animal. I wanted to be able to look in the mirror and still recognize myself, but toward the third-trimester, that dream flew out the window. Of course, I had medical issues to blame for all the extra weight but boy that was a humbling and yet exciting time in life. I remember being so big and uncomfortable that I couldn't even walk from one side of the mall to the other during the end of my pregnancy. I'm not talking about from the North-end to South-end, but standing at a door and walking 500 feet to Pottery Barn Kids in my eye-sight. I turned around, took the extra breaths, and mustered enough energy to make it to the car.
Here's another story for the books . . . all parts of a woman's body is fair game to change during pregnancy. And although I grew in many areas (unfortunately height was never one of them), my chest size was off the charts in comparison to where I started. I'll never forget walking around the corner at work and my female co-worker commenting in shock, "Where did those come from!?!" Of course after delivery comes a change too - and not all areas of my body remained the same . . . can you spell D-E-F-L-A-T-E-D?
Over 13 years ago, I gave birth to my first of two sons and it's been quite an adventure. I carry daily reminders of that journey which I refer to as "battle wounds." My body didn't bounce back into shape like a Victoria Secret model and I didn't have a personal trainer or chef to tighten up those "loose ends". Firmness is not a reality anymore in some areas. Stretch marks decorate parts of my body. A dark scar sits like a tattoo where my children were both pulled from my belly. Although typically covered by clothes, I sometimes struggle with seeing them as the beautiful.
You see, our culture idealizes an unrealistic view of physical appearances and if one doesn't match up, we are shunned. Challenged to change. Criticized for not caring enough. We are bombarded by photoshopped images that portray falsities and don't celebrate true beauty. They are lies. They put people down to build up their brand, their company, their product. We need more messages and images that show that "YOU ARE ENOUGH! AND YOUR BATTLE WOUNDS ARE WHAT MAKE YOU BEAUTIFUL!"
These signs of life on my body are my "battle wounds" . . . they tell a story. They show that I fought for life. That the hours of contractions, morning sickness, tears of pain, and a near-death experience were all worth it.
Life is beautiful and all the scars, bruises, and wounds that come with it are just part of our amazing journey.
Oh . . . my youngest just walked in my office as I'm finishing writing and said, "Why is your face so big in that picture?" Yep . . . beautiful! All for you my love!