Bodies & Beauty: My Body After Childbirth
Editor’s Note: This was the most difficult story I’ve read for Good Women Project. Megan takes us through the heart wrenching, painful honesty of a woman’s view of herself, before and after a pregnancy. I will never forget the lesson learned here. That our bodies are temporary, and the result of giving life? Permanent. Permanent, costly, and utterly worth it. – Lauren
Four years ago I gave birth to a baby….a big baby. Weighing in at over nine pounds, he was beautiful and perfect.
However, the body that had nourished him and kept him safe for nine months was not.
I have always had a tall, thin ballerina body- great for wearing swimsuits and skinny jeans, not great for childbirth. I just didn’t have a lot of room to carry such a big baby. My hips had to expand, my abs separated and my skin tore with stretch marks.
Despite visiting chiropractors, physical therapists and dermatologists, nothing has gone back to normal- that is to say, nothing looks or feels like it did when I was twenty-one.
It’s affected my life more than I care to admit. The worst effect has been in my marriage. My stretch marks didn’t confine themselves to my stomach; they’re on my chest as well. I found it humiliating to give my husband my body and ask him to enjoy it. Proverbs instructs a husband to let his wife’s breasts satisfy him always. After childbirth, that command which had seemed so beautiful on our honeymoon, felt like an unjust life-sentence for my husband.
Why would God do that to him?
He is a godly man.
He’s loved me faithfully.
He’s a great father.
He’s funny, handsome and fit.
He works hard.
My husband deserves better, right?
One night before bed, I really let God have it. I remember I was in the bathroom looking into the big mirror as I undressed. I was crying and gripping my now-saggy skin. I told God how much I hated my body, how it wasn’t fair. What had once been beautiful in my husband’s eyes was now ugly. It wasn’t fair that my husband had to pretend to enjoy me. (I couldn’t possibly believe he was being honest when he told me I was beautiful.) Now all that was left of me were these hideous stretch marks. These stripes.
That’s when I heard the question:
“Do you despise my life-giving stripes as well?”
Doesn’t that stop your heart? It did mine.
Christ has scars. He has holes in his hands and side. He was flogged. His body was torn and beaten giving life to us.
“By His stripes we are healed.”
I love my son more than my twenty-one year old body. I would pay any price to have him healthy and whole. Any price.
Christ found us worth his life.
Even when we despise what He’s given us.
Even when we think no one will ever love us because of what we look like.
Even when we eat a pint of ice cream because we heard that a stupid Victoria’s Secret model stepped on the runway a month after giving birth.
Then God takes it a step farther. First he died to save us because He loved us. Now he uses our weaknesses for his glory.
God’s power thrives when we are weak.
I don’t know what that looks like in your life, but in mine:
I enjoy the love of my husband more fully because he loves me. Truly loves me. All of me.
I have a testimony to share with friends who struggle with body image too.
I now have two beautiful boys who are going to grow up knowing God and knowing they have two parents who love each other.
That’s worth some stripes.
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