How I started to love my stretch marks

August 18 | Guest post by Cindy Cheshire

I'm gonna put it out there: as unlikely as I thought it would be, I actually LIKE my stretch marks. They're a statement of my baby's growth. They're sort of a nice shade of pink. And they make it look like I got into a scratch fight with a wolverine in the name of motherhood. It wasn't an easy road to feeling this way, which is precisely why I feel like I should share the experience.

They appeared, like a thief in the night, around seven months of pregnancy. Pride had goneth before my downfall as I lifted up my shirt one sunny morning to show my baby belly to Kip, my husband, and Heather, a friend visiting from out of town.

"Isn't it the cutest thing ever?" I asked, proud of what appeared to be a basketball sitting in the middle of my otherwise petite figure. "My belly button's having an epic battle to stay an innie, which is adorable, and I don't even have stretch…marks…."

My voice faded away as I caught my reflection in the living room mirror and saw them: two clumps of angry red columns on the underside of my otherwise adorable baby bump, cutting through the cuteness like lightning in a night sky.

It was the end of the world.

Sure, I knew the statistical probability was that I'd get them, but I loved the idea of sticking it to the proverbial man and making it through pregnancy stretch-mark free. Kip met me in the bathroom as I brushed my teeth in a fit of self pity after The Discovery. "It's not the end of the world," he said, leaning against the doorframe, "It's a good thing, it means that our baby is growing! Besides, they don't look that bad."

"I know," I mumbled through a mouth of minty foam, "I was just so excited that I made it so long and I thought I'd make it through without them. Just give me a day to feel bad for myself and then I'll get over it."

"I'll give you an hour."

I spit out my toothpaste. "Deal."

And for the rest of the hour, I moped. I pouted. I lamented my pre-baby, stretch mark-less physique and thought of the appearance of stretch marks as a mere stepping stone to rib-high waistbands, unfashionably short haircuts and driving a periwinkle minivan with a "Baby on Board!" sign in the window. But when the clock struck noon, I sighed and moved on with my life.

An hour became a day, a day became a week, and soon a month had passed. My baby has grown, my stretch marks haven't, and I realized today, when I caught them in a reflection and thought, "Cool", that I'd made my peace with them. They're something to remind me of this time when it's just me and my baby.

Plus, they'll make great bar talk fodder: the next time some guy brags about the scar he got in a motorcycle accident, I'll casually mention how I have scars that I got from radically giving up my body to continue our species. There's no way that can't win, right?

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  1. I had no idea I even had stretch marks during my first pregnancy. My ex husband was away w/ the Navy nearly the whole time, so there was no one to help me even look at the bottom of my stomach. It wasn't until after I had my son, that I pushed my stomach flat and looked down. They were dark purple! Of course, they've faded now, but I remember being shocked at home dark they were!

  2. I have stretch marks all over my thighs and hips from a very, VERY fast growth spurt when I was young. I think I developed hips overnight or something. Some people see them and ask if I used to be fat… I used to get so discouraged by them, especially during high school. But I remember standing in the bathroom one year at college when a friend spotted them. Her face lit up and she said "that's so awesome – it looks like you have lightening on your skin!"

    And I've loved them ever since. Sometimes you just need the right perspective, or someone giving you the right visual, and it all sort of falls into place. I totally embrace my lightening.

    1 agrees
  3. Love this. Thank you.

    After making it through pregnancy #1 with no stretch marks, and through most of pregnancy #2 until one appeared right above my belly button. At first I thought, oh, just old scar tissue from when my belly button was pierced. No. It was my first stretch mark. Alright, it was just one and should disappear when my belly button sinks back and returns to its crater depth …

    However, I'm still making peace with the ones that appeared after my gorgeous 10 lbs boy was born.

    And trying more when my 3 year old declares that he doesn't like the marks on my belly.

    *sigh*

  4. I don't really like my stretchmarks, but at the same time I appreciate that they show how quickly my hips grew to accommodate my daughters' natural birth. Ever since I learnt where babies came from I was told that I wouldn't be able to have a natural birth as my mother's hips were the wrong shape and she didn't produce the right hormones. Well, that was incorrect, and my stretchmarks are the proof!

  5. I love this post!
    I don't have stretch marks yet *knock on wood that I don't get any* but this post makes me not fear getting them as much. Also, I've been told that I have placenta previa which means that I might have to have a c-section and I've been so sad because I really want to have a natural birth plus I don't want a huge scar on my belly!
    Long story short I'm not so worried about how my body will look afterwards now <3

  6. Reading this made me feel so much better about my stretch marks. Years ago I was in a bad car accident which long story short now I have a 9 inch scar up and down my stomach. So stretch marks were something I wasn't looking forward to! And boom at 8 months my thighs were covered in stretch marks (thankfully my tummy doesn't have any)I was so upset feeling doomed to wear shorts that come down to my knee forever. I still hate to see myself naked. And my daughter is already 3 months old. So reading this helped me feel like it's not the end of the world and my stretch marks are a badge of womanhood and motherhood.

    Thank you!!

  7. I didn't actually show any stretch marks until AFTER I gave birth. I looked like a broken balloon…

  8. Right on, sister!

    I don't mind being 10 pounds heavier than I was pre-baby, but I don't like the stretch marks that appeared over night on my inner thighs and one breast toward the end of my pregnancy, though I did get over them. This article's matter-of-factness is empowering. I think I'll give liking them a try.

  9. After my son was born I'd joke about colouring them in with a sharpie and going as a zebra for hallowe'en lol I don't like them, but I'm coming to terms. Thank you for the post!!

  10. I am pierced and tattooed so i just think of mine as more art that was added to the canvas. I went through a lot to get this baby out, i should have something to show for it.

  11. I have severe stretch marks, because my skin is so fair. Basically Freddy Kruegers face = my belly.
    I developed a patch of edema on the underside of my belly, it was about the size of my cupped hand, and now that area is mottled with teeny tiny silver-blue stretch marks. Also Ive got cross hatch stretch marks from where I had existing diagonal ones on my hips that met with the new vertical ones on the sides of my belly.
    I'm not ever going to love my stretch marks, but I don't usually think about them either.

  12. I love this post. I had a very similar discovery of my stretch marks and at first I was so upset that I didn't make it through without them. Then my husband told me that they were battle scars that would remind me that our baby was growing and that my body was awesome enough to accommodate that. Like others have said, they are a souvenir of such an amazing time in my life.

  13. I LOVED this post. Before reading I thought " there is no way in hell some one will make me even think about liking my stretch marks" I got all the way to 8 1/2 months before mine appeared. Baby was late and by 9 1/2 months my belly was covered in them. She is a year old now and my stretch marks are still prominent as ever.

    "I'll casually mention how I have scars that I got from radically giving up my body to continue our species"

    ^^ congrats… I AM now proud to bare my pregnancy battle scars!

  14. I have a couple stretchmarks on my inner thighs, but I never see them. The ones that really bothered me were the stretchmarks that appeared on my breasts. I hated how big my breasts got. I went from a large A-cup to a large C-cup, and that was before my milk came in. The stretchmarks on my breasts made me cry, but then my husband told me they looked like stars around my nipples. Now when I see them, they make me laugh. Thanks for sharing and reminding us that our bodies, pre- and post- baby, are beautiful.

  15. Just gotta say they aren't the end of the world. I don't have a kid (yet) but developed very quickly resulting in marks all over my hips and breasts, but I went on in my 20's to make a decent part-time income as a nude model and got compliments all the time on how little retouching was necessary. So while I don't like them and they seem glaring to me alot of it's just our view.

  16. I can so relate. My stretch marks appeared around the same time and I was so positive to make it till the end without any. Those on my tights are almost 20 years old by now and faded so I´m very positive that one day those on the belly will fade too. Anyhow, I´m accepting them now because a) I can´t make them vanish b) my body surely knows all by itself that it was necessary, I trust it, so no bother:-D!

  17. I got one stretch mark during my pregnancy. It was lonely for a while. Then my baby slept through the night one night and BOOM, my boobs got covered in the little suckers. I don't hate them, but I don't like them. Maybe I'll learn to love 'em soon.

  18. I stretch mark so easily…I can gain a pound and have a new stretch mark. I don't like them but I suppose that I wasn't to concerned about them while pregnant because I figured it couldn't get any worse!

  19. My stretch marks didn't appear until I was 9 months pregnant… and I went until 42 weeks. So the day when I raised my shirt up to show off my cute belly etc etc.. it pretty much happened EXACTLY like you described. I was so discouraged. I've lost all my baby weight but I now have a mass of pink stretch marks on my belly. I got sooooo many of them but they don't look like lightening… it looks more like pink and tan animal print. And I love them… my healthy, 22 inch long – 8 lbs son was born naturally and I guess I figure there's nothing more natural than stretch marks so it's all part of the process. He's worth every single one of them.

    • First, you deserve a trophy for going to 42 weeks. Holy cow! I'm praying that my own is early!

      Second, I LOVE your last comment–"He's worth every single one of them". I never thought of it that way! Even though I like to think I've achieved stretch mark nirvana, I still get a little bummed every once in awhile, and now I will always think of that; my little one is worth every stretch mark I could ever have, and then some!

      Thanks so much for your comment!

  20. Good luck! Eli was so big that I was sure I'd deliver around 37-39 weeks, but no such luck! I actually went into labor on the day that I was going in to be induced… but I don't wish a 42 week pregnancy on anyone! My little monster has a funny sense of time, and humor.

  21. 32 years ago my mom got a pouch-belly and stretch marks from giving birth to me. Growing up I liked to rub her soft belly. I didn't know why it looked that way, I just liked to touch it and be close to my mom.

  22. I have very large stretch marks on my belly and arms from when i went through a drastic weight gain due to illness amd medication that I was on almost 18 years ago. I also describe them as looking like I got into a fight with Wolverine, Cindy! I was ashamed of the marks for many years. I didn't have a child to show for them- just my life and my health- something invisible to strangers. On one side, I view them as warrior markings- I am a survivor. On the other side- I felt the judgement of strangers and friends alike. Only in the past few years have I finally come to a place where I just don't give a fuck. I love my body and I am pleased to still be in it. My partner of 13 years loves my body. No other opinions matter.

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