Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Stretch Marks

The title is not some coy allusion to changing so quickly that stretchy parts of you can't keep up. Though, I am going to make a mental note that might be a cool metaphor to explore.  Anyway, this here post?  It's about actual stretch marks.

Days after I announced I was pregnant with my first child, my mother pressed a bottle of cocoa butter lotion into my hands.  Generic, natch.  (I don't have to look far to discover from whom I inherited my legendary frugality.)

"Use this," she said. "It saved me from stretch marks."

My mother bore seven children. Seven.  Escaping a total of five and half years of pregnancy sans stretch marks is pretty compelling testimony.  Also, I was raised to do what my mother told me.

Here's the thing:  with all of my pregnancies, I didn't really pop until about month six. Actually, pop isn't quite the right word.  Exploded?  Yes, I exploded.  Maybe-she-ate-a-big-meal belly turned into she-could-be-a-sumo-wrestler-in-training belly.

Yowza. My skin winces just thinking about it.

Throughout it all, I'd dutifully slather my skin in cocoa butter, look in the mirror and think, "Wow, Mom was right! I don't see any stretch marks!"

Then, my son was born, and my belly deflated. Turns out, I'd earned my stripes after all. Dozens of them, in fact. Angry, purple lightning bolts sizzled up from my pelvis and toward my naval. Here I was, convinced I'd skate through pregnancy with a perfectly unscathed mid-section.  Nope.  I was just blind to them since they were on the lower half of my belly. Sneaky, sneaky stretch marks.

Post-pregnancies (and let's be perfectly frank:  pre-pregnancies as well), I carried enough extra weight that my belly still puffed out, hiding most of the rumply welts from my view. Now though?  I'm rounding the corner on having lost forty pounds. The extra weight that padded my midsection is gone.  Left behind is puckered, loose skin, riddled with whispery white lines.

If I were a contemplative sort, I might try to make a philosophical connection between stretch marks and motherhood.  I might admire the changing landscape of my maturing shape. Instead?  Instead I'm mostly glad that I did not seek a career as a stripper or a belly dancer, 'cause boy, this would be a handicap.

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