They Do Exist.

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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12 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    The antiquated belief that women's bodies are merely sex-objects for men is an epidemic tearing apart women and girls' self-esteem.

    "Why would God do that to him"? Please! You have a human body because you're a human being. Struggling with self image is something women do for a multitude of reasons, but none of them make any sense. It's media and patriarchy (and I guess, religion) driven bullshit.

    June 21, 2011 at 10:17 am

    • Anonymous 2

      Agreed. Before we look to men and media for our standards of beauty, we should be looking to God for what is beautiful and pleasing. After all, we are created in His divine image and He loves us despite our imperfections.
      "Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised." ~ Proverbs 31:30

      December 28, 2011 at 1:15 am

  2. Oh how He uses EVERYTHING to teach us. We are made more beautiful through what He has us walk through. I wouldn't trade the stretch marks for my boys – and neither would my husband. I'm very blessed to have a man who gets it and loves all of me. Marks are beautiful. This is a fantastic post that will encourage so many. Thank you Megan!!

    June 21, 2011 at 10:43 am

  3. beautiful

    June 21, 2011 at 4:19 pm

  4. As I sit here with tears streaming down my face, I can not thank you enough for writing this post! I know how difficult this must have been and oh, how I feel your pain! I have had it out with God too many times on this very subject! But like you, He is breaking me of my pride and my vanity, and showing me the beauty of being truly beautiful! From the inside out…
    Much love and blessings to you!
    {{BIG HUGS}}

    June 21, 2011 at 8:00 pm

  5. Oh, Megan, I can relate with you on so many levels. For me, though, I struggled with my body BEFORE children as well as after.

    It is such a blessing to know that I am loved, truly loved, by my husband. He loves and enjoys me just the way I am.

    Even more than that, I am truly loved by my Heavenly Father. He loves me and MADE me just the way I am.

    Thank you for sharing so candidly!

    June 21, 2011 at 8:00 pm

  6. Ali Farmer

    So poignant and so beautiful written. Thank you so much for sharing your story and your heart.

    June 21, 2011 at 11:51 pm

  7. Adore it.

    June 23, 2011 at 2:37 am

  8. your husband is such a lucky man

    June 28, 2011 at 10:57 pm

  9. Nicole J.

    Wow. Thank you so much for writing this! I’m in a courting relationship with a Godly man I’ve known since I was 19. We’ve talked often about getting married and having kids. Repeatedly, he’s told me how beautiful I am. It’s all lovely to hear, don’t get me wrong, but I’ve struggled with having kids for years now. I know it’s so weird to say since I have a few good years, but you answered my own questions. I now release how selfish I am to think that my future husband would not enjoy my body, when as Christians, we relish in Christ’s healing stripes!

    May 24, 2012 at 7:07 pm

  10. Kaylan

    Thank you so much for this!!
    I'm not even pregnant or married…only 19 years old but I started crying when I read ' “Do you despise my life-giving stripes as well?”
    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.” '
    Thank you so much for reminding me again about what Jesus Christ has done for everyone!!

    September 6, 2012 at 12:34 am

  11. My wife once had serious stretch marks on her stomach after she had our last baby. She felt so bad about herself and always emotional whenever she looks into the the mirror. We are gradually overcoming it but it hasn't been easy…thanks to some good stretch mark removal cream. It's gradually fading out. Can't wait for it all to disappear.

    August 1, 2013 at 9:38 pm

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