Dear Diary,

 

When Beyonce’s bootylicous body bounced back four months after giving birth to Blue Ivy, many moms around the world sucked in their stomachs and pushed up their breasts. Although some of my mommy friends cheered on Bey’s rapid weight loss, several admitted that the superstar’s postpartum success added extra pressure to shed their extra pounds.

 

My friends and I played the numbers game and revealed how our weight fluctuated from pre- to post-pregnancy. We prayed that our magic numbers would once again flash on our scales, and we shared ancient secrets to weight loss. One woman took a water aerobics class and substituted salads for…well, almost everything. Another strapped on her baby and hit the pavement, speed walking through her neighborhood. I told the group how breastfeeding was my new Slim Fast. It was easier than going to the gym, and I never sweated out my hair or spent money on a membership like I did in my before-baby days. But you can’t nurse forever.

 

Then, I interrupted our pity party.  I told my friends not to try competing with a woman who has a team whose full-time job is to make her look good. If we had hair stylists, nail technicians, makeup artists, wardrobe assistants, nutritionists, and trainers, we would look like Miss Universe in the carpool lane and at the baby gym! Instead of comparing ourselves to a fantasy, we should stretch our definitions of beauty to include bigger bellies and even stretch marks! I told them how I’m more comfortable in my skin today than I was 15 years ago frolicking in a bikini on the beaches of Montego Bay during Spring Break.

 

Often, I bare my soul to my friends. That day, I decided to take it a step further—I bared my belly. I lifted up my shirt and showed them my stretch marks. When I was pregnant, I managed to go nine months without a mark. I gained 35 pounds total, mostly during the third trimester. Like my mother when she carried me, you couldn’t tell I was pregnant until I was six months along. My stomach was stretch mark free, thanks to a bedtime ritual of slathering on belly butter rich in Vitamin E. On the day my daughter was due, my stomach was still smooth as a baby’s bottom. But Baby C decided not to make her grand entrance into the world when she was supposed to. Two weeks went by. No contractions. But I did feel something squiggly on my stomach.

 

I ran to a mirror. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Say it ain’t so! I said to myself as I stared into the mirror, mad. Yes, stretch marks.

 

Then I willed myself to look beyond the stretch marks on my stomach and to realize that the baby inside my belly was well worth a few flaws. I reminded myself that no one had seen my stomach, other than Baby’s C’s father, in years. It had been that long since I did Montego Bay with my sorority sisters. Oh, the memories!

 

As I thought some more about my new body, I had a beautiful revelation: I was more comfortable in my skin 50 pounds heavier and pregnant than I was sipping pina coladas and flirting with sun tanned boys. While I didn’t suffer from low self-esteem in my twenties, I do recall spending more than an hour getting ready to go out—hey, our looks landed us in the VIP sections at the clubs.

 

More than a decade later, I am in love with my body, stretch marks and all. I feel grown up for the first time in my life.  I am responsible for another human being!  My pregnancy connects me to my grandmothers, my mom, my sister, my aunts and my cousins.  It inducted me into their secret society—a place where you can get into the VIP without being a size six!

 

In a sense, stretch marks stretched my definition of beauty. Now, don’t get me wrong—I would rather have my smooth stomach and, while we’re at it, a flat surface would be nice. I’m just not ashamed to let my stretch marks show.

 

So let’s turn a negative into a positive.  Embrace your body and redefine what you think is beautiful from the inside out.  Count your blessings, not your burdens. How many metaphors (or similes, if that’s more your thing) can you create about your stretch marks?  Here are a few to get your mind moving and your confidence increasing:

 

Stretch Marks are…Love Marks.

 

Stretch Marks are…Battle Scars.

 

Stretch Marks are…Mom Tattoos.

 

Stretch Marks are…Silent Reminders of My Miracle.

About The Author

Vlog Mom/DFTM Creator

Not long ago, Heather Hopson hosted a television show in the Cayman Islands. Today, she's back home writing a different kind of story as a new mom. In her 15 years working as a professional journalist, this by far is her best assignment! Growing up, she dreamed of becoming Oprah Winfrey. She was the features editor for her school’s newspaper and a teen talk show host for her city’s most popular radio station. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Michigan State University. After graduation, she worked as a television producer and reporter at CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates throughout the U.S. Instead of heading to Chicago to join Ms. Winfrey on her set, she bought a plane ticket to the Cayman Islands instead. She arrived five days before a category five hurricane! She lived in paradise for seven years, hosted an award-winning television show and traveled the globe with a government delegation. She also served on the Board of Directors for Big Sisters Big Brothers and spearheaded a Send a Kid to Camp Campaign. Then, she relocated to Washington, D.C. to obtain a teaching certification and instruct 8th grade reading at a high needs middle school. She later returned to her hometown of Pittsburgh, PA to raise her daughter Caitlynn, now 3-years-old. During her 10-month-stint as a stay-at-home mom, Caitlynn inspired her to create this blog, and Diary of a First Time Mom was born on Mother’s Day 2012. Two years later, she expanded the family to include 40+ writers. Currently, Heather serves as the communications director at Allies for Children. In addition, she is the owner of Motor Mouth Multimedia, which ranked #49 in Startup Nation’s Home-Based 100 Competition sponsored by Discover Card and Sam’s Club. Recently, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Heinz Endowments selected Heather to receive an Emerging Black Artist award to develop Diary of a First Time Mom.

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  • Lisa

    Stretchmarks are a deflated basketball getting sucked into blackhole

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  • http://www.janeanesworld.com Janeane Davis

    I really enjoyed this article. I think we all will be much happier when we accept our bodies as they are post baby. We need to accept ourselves, embrace ourselves and celebrate ourselves. No more apologies for stretch marks and stretched bodies, instead let’s celebrate.

    • newmom0608

      Yes! We define our beauty. My friend told me the other day that he doesn’t want to be/look like a 21-year-old. He wants to be the best 41-year-old he can be.

  • http://smartnsassymom.com Sheree

    Great Article!!! I posted a similar pic on Instagram that reminds us all to love our stretch marks. Some women wish they had them!

    • newmom0608

      Right! That’s what we must remember. The sacrifice of a tight body is well worth it!

  • http://www.howipinchapenny.com Sarah Mock

    I am just in awe and reverence that you have a picture of your post baby belly in this post! HUGE kudos to you for doing so. I just don’t have the confidence to do so. BUT beyond my awe of your courage this is a wonderful post that I will come back to.

    • newmom0608

      Awwww, thanks Sarah. My family couldn’t believe I posted a picture of my post-pregnancy belly! Sometimes I wonder the same thing, but when I get comments like this, I am reminded that I made the right choice to share my story and embrace my body!

  • http://www.chasing-joy.com Chasing Joy

    Body image is hard. I am not a mom and I often struggle. It is a little scary to think about how I will feel after I have a baby. It’s good to hear from mom’s who have been through it.

    • newmom0608

      Everyone struggles! We are so hard on ourselves, but must turn our flaws into beauty marks. We notice small imperfections. For instance, I always think I should get braces, because leaving my wisdom teeth in longer than I should have pushed my bottom teeth together. I notice it, but no one else does! This week, my dentist asked if I had braces before!