An Unlikely Celebration
Sometimes there are posts I feel like I should write before I have a change of heart.
Tonight is one of those.
(And I’ve learned that blogging with a newborn is not quite as easy as blogging with a baby en utero, so I have to capitalize on the time I have right this second between feedings while The Shippmate has that sweet baby June swaddled and happy!)
Since leaving the hospital just 23 days ago, I had watched the spot where they put the hep lock (pictured below) transform into quite the bruise. Over the course of a couple weeks, I saw it become a variety of colors, and with each and every feeding where my arm was cradling June, I would admire that bruise as such a visible reminder of the pain of labor.
It became my own visible badge of honor for surviving labor.
And I loved it.
I don’t mean that I looked at it and had some sort of post traumatic feelings and felt anxious or stressed, I mean I looked at that bruise and felt so overcome with joy and excitement and pride about the experience it was to bring June into this world with Ryan.
It was proof of pain. Proof of a job well done. Proof of Ryan and I accomplishing something more magnificent than anything we’ve ever done together.
And when I saw that bruise, I didn’t think of an IV site, I thought of the magnitude of contractions that never had the break between them people told me there would be. I thought of the way I gripped Ryan’s hand with such intensity that I thought surely I broke his thumb. I thought of the way I wanted to give up but by the grace of God and the strength of a Shippmate holding me up, I didn’t. I thought of the surreal moment when I heard, “Erica… you’re complete.”
That bruise was important to me. It held memories of a day I want to remember always.
I began to feel sentimental as I saw it fading. I didn’t want to let go of this beautiful tattoo of the best thing I’ve ever accomplished in my entire life.
And the morning I woke up to feed June and realized that precious bruise was no longer on my right arm, I felt tears coming on. I wasn’t ready to let go of the visible reminder.
I started to feed June, and I told her of my sadness. (I talk out loud to her often. She’s a great listener and sometimes even cries when I tell her sad stories. Ha.)
I explained how important that bruise was to me, and I said to her, “I mean- I even wish there could have been a scar there on my arm to forever remind me of the best day of my life.”
And then I literally started laughing out loud (which was a little annoying for she who was trying to eat) as I exclaimed to my Junebug, “I DO HAVE VISIBLE REMINDERS OF THE DAY!”
Not on my right arm where that hep lock was.
On my belly.
Visible reminders (yes, multiple reminders!) in the form of stretch marks.
I went 36 weeks of the pregnancy without a one and freaked out a bit when I saw the first little one appear. Everyone suggests ways to prevent them and speaks of their existence as if they’re evil. The “lucky” ones that don’t get them are considered just that– “lucky.”
I wanted to be one of the “lucky” ones that left pregnancy without a trace of proof that I once carried a nearly nine pound baby around for nine months.
And now, not even a month into the journey that is motherhood, something changed so much inside of me that I found myself sitting in my glider with my daughter CELEBRATING the fact I have stretch marks.
Sadly, something about typing or saying the words “stretch marks” makes me cringe. I think society has ruined that name for them, because I’ve been trained to think they’re bad. They’re ugly. They’re unwanted.
I almost wondered if it would be super weird to acknowledge publicly on my blog that I have them.
AS IF THEY ARE CONTAGIOUS. Or horrible and disgusting.
Except they’re not.
They’re priceless proof of the greatest achievement of my life.
They’re visible reminders of my pain, my effort, my love for my daughter.
Each of those marks contain a story– a piece of my pregnancy, a part of my labor… they are literal proof of my bodying stretching in ways I never thought possible.
Those marks I’ve been trained to be ashamed of?
They’re all about my June. My daughter.
Now I’m not even about to pretend like I’m so mature that I haven’t looked back at pre-pregnancy pictures of myself and prayed I can be that skinny again. I want to lose the weight. I absolutely want to have a version of my old body back.
I won’t deny any of that. Maybe it’s silly of me to care. Maybe it’s not. But it’s true- I look forward to losing the weight.
So while I don’t have a strong need for pounds of proof of my greatest achievement, I cannot communicate my honest sincerity for my celebration of the visible reminders on my stomach.
I explained at the beginning of this post that I wanted to write it out before I had a change of heart. Because maybe I’m on a bit of a “mommy high” as I’m only 25 days into this new role as June’s Mama and perhaps so in love with her and everything about being her mom that I’m delusional in my love for these stretch marks?
I will 100% own that these first 3 weeks with her have been SO MUCH EASIER than I feared. I thought my body would take months before feeling “normal” and I expected to never sleep and to be walking around in this state of maternal confusion at all times.
And it has been nothing like that.
With the realization that it’s nothing of our own doing and it all could change tonight, we have had a breeze of a first few weeks with her. Our Junebug sleeps through the night, my body felt “normal” so much quicker than I expected– we go places, do things, and life didn’t get more stressful, but rather more wonderful.
So I’m sure ALL of that is affecting my love and excitement upon realizing I will have forever reminders of the best day of my life, and there might very well be a day when I look in the mirror and don’t see the labor of love behind those marks.
Or maybe I will be embarrassed by them. Or feel less beautiful because of them.
And THAT is exactly why I had to have Ryan hold my June between every feeding tonight so I could get this appreciation and love for them recorded.
Because on that day when I want to be ashamed of my new stomach, I want to come here and be reminded of the morning I celebrated the fact I DO have a visible reminder of the 24th of August when my heart, life– and body– were forever changed.
In the best possible way.