Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thankful Thursday: Stretchmarks

Stretchmarks.

Five years ago, just the sound of that word made me cringe and on a bad day, it would make me cry.  Five years ago, Ellie was a perfect little 5 month old full of rolls, smiles and drool.  She was beautiful and I was so proud of my body's accomplishment in creating, growing and nourishing her. 

Don't you just want to nibble those chunky thighs?!
Unfortunately, the happy pride turned to anger as soon as I removed my clothing.  In the last 3 weeks of my pregnancy, tons of bright red stretchmarks formed all over my stomach, spanning from my hip bones to above my belly button.  It was awful.  They were ugly.  I was ugly.

When Ellie was 9 months old, I went to a personal trainer for the first time.  I knew she was going use that fat-pinching contraption on me and she was going to see my stomach.  I considered not going just because of that.  I cried all over Randy the night before, he listened, he rubbed my head, but there really wasn't anything he could do or say to make me feel better.  It's not like he could say "They're not that noticeable."  They were that noticeable.  I'm sure he thought I was a little crazy because I wasn't worried about how much fat the pinchy contraption would detect, I was only worried about the personal trainer seeing my ugly stretchmarks.

I did go to the personal trainer, she pretended to not even notice the stretch marks and the pinchy thing found the fat. ;-)

A few months later, I got pregnant with Aleena, and wow, did my belly grow.  If I didn't already have stretchmarks, I would have gotten them then.  I loved being pregnant but hated to look at my gigantic stomach with red stripes in the mirror.

40 weeks.  Come on out, Baby! (you can say it: huge.)
 After forcefully evicting Aleena, I had another beautiful, perfect baby girl....and lots of bright red stretchmarks.  Not shocking, it's not like I thought they were going to go away, but again, it took away from the new baby glow. (or was that haze?)
Sweet little faces.
Three and a half years later, the bright red, ugly lines have faded to silver and I'm left with loose, wrinkly belly skin that feels like a 90 year old arm.  The fat content has decreased greatly, thanks to running and various abs exercises, but I've still got some work to do.  And my belly button!  My poor deformed belly button!  To all of you young ladies out there: do NOT pierce your belly buttons!  Listen to your mothers, they really do know best.

This whole rant was inspired by a post on the Run Like A Mother: The Book Facebook Page:
"This morning's question courtesy of Angela, who has had four babies--and now has extra skin around her midsection. She's lost more than 30 pounds (go girl!) in the last two years, putting her smaller than she was pre-kids. But she hates the look of the flabby skin. Any advice, other than surgery?"

One of the suggestions on Facebook was to use an anti-aging firming cream that was meant for your face to tighten up the loose skin. I might have to test that one out. I'm seeing results in my ab muscles, but I've hit a plateau where the loose skin is concerned.

Randy has told me that if I really want a tummy-tuck, we can save up for it, but the jury is still out on that decision.  *Side note: Randy was not, in any way, suggesting that I should have a tummy-tuck.  He offered the option of spending our family money on something to help me feel better about myself.  I don't want any man-bashing feedback.

I'm not a fan of unnecessary surgery (that will keep me from running) so instead, I'm trying to change my outlook.


Badges of Honor.

The fact is, it was an honor to grow my babies and I wouldn't trade either of them for my pre-baby smooth skin.  Most days, I'm indifferent toward the stretchmarks, but occasionally, I catch sight of them at a weak moment and my first impulse is to cover them up.  I'll never embrace them but I'm working toward coming to terms with the hideous, permanent part of my body.

Lots of women get stretch marks, of varying degrees, from pregnancy.  Many of my friends have them.  We've discussed them, but never had a show and tell session.  I'm thinking there isn't enough martini on the planet for that....but maybe we should.  Maybe we'd all feel better about what we're so busy hiding, if we see that the women around us, the women we care about, are suffering right along with us.

I can't believe I'm about to say this...I'll show you my badge of honor.  Show me yours.

Maybe it's not that bad.


Ok, yes, it's that bad.  I swear, my belly button used to be cute.

Tweet me: @runmama2girls, or leave me a comment with a link to a picture or email me (jamiem718@gmail.com) and I'll include them in a follow up blog next week (with no names, if you'd like).  Go ahead. You can do it.

22 comments:

  1. You are beautiful, Jamie, inside and out! I am with you on unnecessary surgery - I have thought about breast implants for years, but can't bring myself to have the surgery/recovery (like you said - would stop me from running).

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    1. Thank you, Kim. And good point: this post focuses on the "too much" but there is also the issue of "too little". Man. It sure is hard work to feel beautiful!

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  2. You are brave! Good for you for posting this. Maybe in another 10-15lbs, I will show you mine. Right now, not feeling so brave. Every time you get sad about the marks, just look at those beautiful girls! Definitely worth it!

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    1. I wasn't feeling so brave this morning. I hyperventilated a little when I clicked "post". ;)

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  3. My thighs got covered in stretch marks in High school! Just from growing. At least now that I have babies I can blame them on that.

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    1. My thighs have a bunch from my first pregnancy. I'm not sure if was going to happen regardless, but I had a lot of swelling when I was preggo with Ellie. I'm blaming that.

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  4. Hi Jamie, I found your blog posted by Christa on fb. I just have to say, I was so moved by your honesty, vulnerability,and genuine nature that shined through your words. Know you will be an inspiration for many women who are struggling with self image and have a hard time embracing themselves as being wonderfully and fearfully made. We all have scars, some more visible than others; nonetheless they have the ability to teach us so much about who we were created to be: beautiful. Keep on keeping on!
    Kim H

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    1. Thank you so much, Kim! What a wonderful comment. :)

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  5. I remember Christmas Eve, 2003 when I got out of the shower, and holy moley, they ALL appeared. Everywhere. I had JUST been bragging about how I had none- and there they were. Merry Christmas to me. Ava was born, and 78 of the 88 pounds I gained (yes, GASP!)left right as I was expecting Lauren, and the cycle continued (Evan, Gavin and Owen to follow). For 5 years. Straight. Yep. I know you remember- I have gained and lost over 370 pounds. (Not to mention my once small sized B breasts were demoted to an "almost A" by one generous bra company, and were like utters.) But unlike you, I have not been consistant, and to show my tummy, there was no muscle definition (I SEE your muscles!) And unfortunatly, there is nothing you can do with that skin. Nada. Zippo. Zilch. You should be proud of your girls, your perserverance (sp!) and what great shape you are in! YOU ARE AWESOME!! I REALLY THINK SO!- Julie

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    1. Thank you, Julie! YOU are awesome. Five kids in 5 years! Amazing!

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  6. What a great post. I struggle with the way my belly button looks so much these days! I admit, it's one of those things that makes me wonder how I will handle having a 2nd child (from the physical side). How selfish a thought is that???

    For the record - You're beautiful!

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    1. I don't think it's selfish at all, Mandy. These are real concerns. Our bodies change and will remain changed for the rest of our lives.
      For the record, I don't think the second kid will make much of a difference in your belly button. The damage has already been done. :)

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  7. I'd kill for your picture to look like mine. Good work Momma!

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  8. I'm finally catching up on my blog reading. Good for you mama. Brave, beautiful, strong and capable. All amazing qualities for your little ones to look up to. Be proud of all that you are!

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  9. I know that we are all much harder on ourselves than others, and I know it's a photo so maybe it looks different in real life, AND I don't know how your stomach looked pre-babies...BUT I don't think your stomach looks bad. I really don't! Your daughters are so beautiful and your husband sounds wonderful!

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  10. I've lost 42 pounds and the one thing I struggle with is my belly, the loose skin and the stretch marks!! I'm trying to change my outlook on that too! My 11 year old precious daughter told me the other day I had wrinkles on my belly. I just looked at her and said "I know". Almost cried, but they were there because of her. And that's ok.

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    1. Ah, kids say the darnedest things. My kiddos have pointed them out as well. Not trying to be hurtful, just pointing them out. We need to try not to let it hurt our feelings.
      My husband, earlier this week, told me how great my belly was looking with all of the exercising I've been doing. Well-meaning, but still pointing out my terrible flaw. Sigh.

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  11. Since I'm only 4-months from evicting my OWN baby from my belly, I totally understand...but I have to tell you: a) your stomach looks incredible -- look at your muscles! b) the kids are so freaking cute I can't even stand it.

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    1. Thanks, Katy! The belly is a work in progress. I may not be able to control the way the skin behaves, but I can (try to) control my reactions to it.

      The little ladies are the coolest things I've ever done. All of my emotional pain is worth having them in my life.

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