I look down at my son as he nurses and marvel at his little body. His impossibly tiny nails, the adorable dimples in his knees, his downy hair - it amazes me that I was able to create such a perfect tiny body.
My feelings towards my own body are somewhat more ambivalent. On one hand, I'm fiercely proud of it, because it made my wonderful boy and I see my lumps, bumps and stretch marks as badges of honour, that I've earned my stripes, as it were. On the other hand, I feel somewhat betrayed by it, as each mark tells the tale of the struggle we had in getting my son here. In the journey towards motherhood, instead of my body working instinctively to create and nurture a life, it felt like I had to battle it each step of the way.
I was seriously ill a few years ago with a brain cyst which left me with epilepsy, so I always knew that pregnancy wouldn't be straightforward. However, I wasn't expecting it to be quite so complicated.
Four weeks after the birth, and the toll taken is still clear. I have a considerable overhang, which conceals the Caesarian scar, a scar which is violently red and purple, and still unhealed due to infection. I still walk with a marked limp, as my hips and pelvis recover from SPD, which left me on crutches for the last month of my pregnancy. The inside of my cheek is raised and scarred from being bitten during the seizure I had the day after I gave birth.
My stretch marks are wide and vivid, and raise past my belly button nearly towards my chest, because my son was trapped in the breech position by my bicornuate uterus.
The lone silvery stretch mark which stands out in contrast to the fresh ones is the only physical sign of the little life that came before my son, the life my body failed to nurture.
The back of my hand is scarred with little white pockmarks, from the various cannulas I had, replacing the fluids I lost when I started to bleed heavily in the first trimester with this second pregnancy. There's an emotional scar from when the doctor kindly and calmly prepared me for what she felt was an inevitable miscarriage. Thankfully, my son stubbornly clung on!
My emotions about my body are very mixed. I sometimes look at myself in the mirror and feel resentful, that my body could fail me on so many counts at what is, after all, its primary function. I get jealous of other women who have sailed through pregnancy and found it to be a joyful experience, and not experienced that look of disbelief on a doctor's face as you list complication after complication.
On a superficial note, I'm embarrassed by the fact that I'll never wear a bikini again because of those awful high stretch marks. I sometimes lose my perspective a little and end up feeling like a victim but that couldn't be further from the truth.
Looking at my beautiful little man, I can only feel like a victor and that my body was my ally in creating him. I love my body, battered and bruised as it is, as it gave me my boy.
About Love Mum-Body
This month on story of mum, we’re sharing photos of how our bodies have changed since we became mums and grandmums. You can photograph your actual body, or you can shape your body in plasticine. We don’t mind how you share it, as long as you do your very best to love it.
For some more inspiration, check out the guest posts we’ve had so far: