Something profound happened to me in the past week, and I think it was worthy of sharing. I visited a friend of mine, Chidinma, who birthed her second son about eight weeks ago. In the course of chatting, in between mouthfuls of chinchin and cake, Chidinma told me that she was thinking of going for Laser surgery to eliminate the stretch marks on her tummy that she was gifted with during her pregnancy. I asked her how much the surgery was going to cost and the amount she mentioned made me scream out “That one na one plot of land for Ikorodu oh”. She laughed at my reaction and said “Abeg, anything to get that bikini body back”. We laughed and I told her to do whatever rocked her boat.
The conversation reminded me of similar marks that lined my tummy and waist line. But I wondered why it never crossed my mind to go for Laser surgery. Not that I had never heard of it. Not that I couldn’t afford it (even though sincerely, I think I would invest that money in something else that would yield profits). Maybe because my husband often traced his hands around the lines, and since those lines lay in sensitive body parts (waist, upper thighs and tummy), tracing them with his hands was a serious turn on for me. He called them “zebra stripes“ and that always made me laugh. After I birthed my princess eighteen months ago, the paramount duty I felt I owed myself was to get back in shape. I worked hard at the gym; doing cardio, abs, squats, lunges and other exercises until I got not only a slim waistline, but also a tighter ass to go with it (of course the hubby was very pleased ).
I kept thinking to myself all through the drive back home “Why didn’t it occur to me to get rid of my pregnancy stretch marks?”. While having dinner with my hubby later that evening, he noticed that I was detached from the conversation we were having, and I told him what happened at my friendâs place and how I have been wondering why it never occurred to me to get rid of the stretch marks. What he said to me was profound. He said “Baby, you shouldn’t even think about it. Those stretch marks are not something to be ashamed of. They are proof that life lived and grew inside you for nine months”.
And I agree with him. I sincerely believe that every aspect of motherhood should be honoured. In fact, ever since that day, I take particular notice of my pregnancy stretch marks and I run my hands through them in sheer pride. Proof that I am WOMAN. Proof that I gave life. Proof that my body expanded beyond what is physically possible to carry a 4.0kg baby to full term. Proof that I went through all the rainy days of pregnancy…the nausea, the binging, the sleepless nights, the swollen legs, the bitter mouth, the cravings, the discomfort, the pain and I MADE IT. Proof that I can go through anything because nothing compares to pregnancy and childbirth. I wear my lines as a trophy now; a trophy for one who dared to give life.
Mothers sacrifice so much, you know. What is it that we don’t give up? Our schedules are rearranged to suit the family. Our career goals are re-adjusted to accommodate our loved ones. Our beauty is snatched from beneath our eyes. Our sexy model-like bodies are traded for huge life-size ballons, and then comes the baby fat that won’t go away without a fight. We take up new careers overnight; hairdressers tending to the mane of beautiful ones, nurses tending them back to good health, singers ushering them on to dreamland, chefs whipping up delicacies and cuisines, teachers instilling in them the guiding principles of life, pastors leading them to the path of spiritual truth.
And yet, the media won’t let us celebrate our awesomeness. I do not blame Chidinma and many others who desperately want to get rid of their pregnancy stretch marks. Who think those zebra stripes are unsightly and should be done away with. No, I do not blame them for wanting to erase the marks that tell a beautiful story. Society puts that much pressure on us. The Kardashians of the world have seemed to set a standard of beauty that many of us try shallow-mindedly to achieve. They go under the knife and lipo out all the baby fat and then laser off the stretch marks. Itâs almost like they desperately want to forget the nine month experience and just rejoice at having the baby.
Me? I look forward to scolding my daughter one day, when her teen troubles sets in. I imagine myself raising my blouse up and showing her the zebra stripes and yelling in that good old Christian mother voice which I am sure I would have acquired by then “You see these marks, I got them from carrying you in my belly for nine months. No surrogate mother carried you in her womb for me. I carried you. I bore the pain. So when I tell you to be back home by 8pm, you better be home by 7:30″. Pregnancy is a beautiful experience that most women hope to have. Not everyone is blessed to have it, however. If you are among the lucky ones, bask in it. Never be ashamed of scars that show that you are stronger than what tried to pull you down.
There is a wonderful account on Instagram, that we love love love here on The Fertile Chick. It celebrates women in the beauty of our wonderful lines. Please be sure to check it out. It’s called Love your Lines.
“It’s in the reach of my arms. The span of my hips. The stride of my step. The curl of my lips. I am woman. Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman, That’s me.” - Maya Angelou
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