I joined a birth board on the internet. It's been rather interesting, going through this whole pregnancy with other June mommies. Sometimes the questions are silly, sometimes they're serious concerns:
Will life ever get back to normal? Will I ever sleep again? Will my time ever be my own? Will I always feel this uncertain? I'm scared of the stretch marks, will they go away? Will I ever have my pre-pregnancy body back? What, exactly, is too much or too little when it comes to weight gain?
The focus on body image, especially, strikes me at the heart.
Isn't that exactly like our world? From an early age, we, as females, work toward an "ideal" body image. This image may come from magazines, Hollywood stars, music, or the other women in our lives. And, more likely than not, we never quite measure up. Our chests are too small, our hips are too wide. Our hair, the wrong color. And the list of imperfections goes on.
Even growing up in a loving, Christian household, body image issues still reached me. Elementary, Middle, High School found me self-conscious and focused on my imperfections. I knew God's word. I knew that it said I was fearfully and wonderfully made. But I'm not sure I always believed that. My loved ones told me I was beautiful, but the rest of society didn't back these words up. I always felt "less-than perfect."
And then, my heart began to change. There were questions, deep inside, that needed answers.
Do you believe me, God whispered?
Do you belive my word?
What is your heart focused on?
My Savior spoke to my soul, asking me if I was ready to change my perspective. It had to be my choice alone. And it wasn't an overnight revolution. It was slow. It meant burrowing myself in truth. It was an ongoing battle, one that I honestly still face. But one I slowly feel like I'm overcoming.
I honestly think that most women are unhappy with themselves, in one way or another. We all have our insecurities. It's amazing to me that these reach even into pregnancy. It seems like pregnancy would be a release, a few months when we really don't have to necessarily worry about what we're eating or how much weight we're gaining. But image insecurities reach even to there.
I went through most of my first pregnancy without stretch marks. And then suddenly, right toward the end, bright red marks appeared, five on both sides of my belly. After my daughter was born the marks faded, but now that my skin is stretched out, they once again appear fierce and red. The first time, they bothered me. This time, well, this time they're just a part of the story. The story of my daughter and son.
My daughter was looking at my belly the other day and she asked if I needed band-aids for my "owies." I tried to explain to her two-year-old mind that these marks didn't really hurt me. They just marked where babies had grown. Just as she was once held close to my heart, now her brother was there as well, stretching, kicking and growing. It's a story I'll continue to tell both of them as they get older. These stretch marks, they're only the beginning of a story. Many would call them an imperfection. I call them beautiful. I'm sure the marks will fade, after this little guy is born. They'll, once again, become paler, closer to skin color. But the reminder will always be there.
And it's beautiful.