Lately, I've been hating myself. Well - not myself really, but moreso the way that I look. I hate the mirror. HATE it. I hate my hair and the fact that I haven't been able to color it in forever. I hate the stretch marks on my stomach. I hate my baby pooch. I hate my BOOBS! I hate my thighs. I hate the way my clothes fit. I hate the way my skin feels. and on and on and on and on... and it was even worse when I was pregnant. SO much worse.
Just today, I was seriously online looking at how much lipo/tummy tucks cost and trying to devise a plan on how we were going to come up with that much money... and I think that kind of stuff is so stupid, but I was desperate.
Well, Last night I stayed up late talking with some friends during a q&a session with the author of the book, Cold Tangerines , over at The Mom-Tage and they mentioned her blog and a blog post that she had written as a guest writer for their page. So, in my spare time today, I went back to read it.
...and I have been a MESS ever since. You can read the whole post for yourself HERE or HERE, but if you don't feel like clicking on the link - just to make sure you read it and get dosed with the same reality check that I did, I felt compelled to post it here.
"One day, when I was approximately sixteen months pregnant with Henry, I was emailing back and forth with my friend Kirsten in San Francisco. I was pregnant for the first time, and she for the second. She wanted me to send her a picture, and I told her I was destroying all the evidence of this season, and that no one wanted to see my pregnant self any more often than they had to.
She begged me to take pictures, even if I didn’t show them to anyone. She said that she understood how big and awful I felt. And then she said that there were probably women who saw my big pregnant belly, and walked fast to their cars, hoping to close the door before the tears started to fall.
And now I know something about that, having been both women. I know pregnancy is hard, and that, especially toward the end, it feels like your body’s been taken over entirely. I know that being a nursing mom feels pretty similar, and that you barely recognize yourself in the mirror, and you wonder if your stomach will ever go totally back to normal.
(Um, it won’t.)
(But for a while you’ll have totally lovely, absolutely magical cleavage. That’s something.)
And now I’ve cried in my car, walking away from a perfect pregnant belly, afraid that that will never be me again. After a miscarriage that was deeply painful both physically and emotionally, after a long season of slightly-unnerving medical follow-up and testing and big words, and now in the midst a season of longing that extends to the present, I know something I didn’t know that first time.
This is what I know now: You, pregnant mama-to-be, are nothing short of a walking miracle--heartburn, varicose veins, swollen ankles and all.
You, newborn mama, are right smack dab in the middle of one of life’s most precious and strange seasons—leaking breasts, poochy tummy, sleepless nights and all.
This doesn’t help, really, when you can’t sleep because your belly is so big, when the baby can’t sleep, when the milk doesn’t come, when the jeans don’t fit.
But this is my prayer for you: that just every once in a while, you have moments when everything stops, and you realize that you are blessed beyond measure, and that this season is faster than the blink of an eye.
Put your hands on your belly, and say thank you.
Smell your newborn’s perfect tiny head, and breathe in that smell so deeply that you will remember it every day of your life.
Blessings on you, and on the new life in your belly or in your arms.
-Shauna Niequist "
Um. Wow. All I could manage was wow... and tears, lots of them. All of that resonated with me SO LOUDLY, but This part stood out to me so, so, so much:
"But this is my prayer for you: that just every once in a while, you have moments when everything stops, and you realize that you are blessed beyond measure, and that this season is faster than the blink of an eye."
God answered her prayer, at least through me, today.
I made a promise to myself today that I would be thankful - that I would count these stretch marks and all the things that came with them as a blessing, as a reminder of the true gifts that came with them... and know that they are beautiful (for so many reasons), even if only in my eyes.