'Stretch Marks of The Soul' by Jessica Zucker
"Okay, okay. We all know how it goes. We want our bodies “back” after giving birth. That’s a fair desire. Why would we want to remain a larger version of ourselves once the baby has emerged? It makes all the sense in the world to want to get back into our non-maternity wardrobes, to throw on some wedges, and feel like the pre-baby body is here, and here to stay.
As of late, I’ve been beset by the “wait, what? You just had a baby?! How? You don’t look like you’ve ever been pregnant” comments and I have such mixed internal reactions. On the one hand, I notice my stride perks up somewhat when I catch a glimpse of myself in a store window—a bittersweet reminder that I am officially on the other side of pregnancy. On the other hand, I spend a lot of time thinking about women’s bodies and our capacities—pregnancy, childbirth, the transitions through these liminal spaces, the traumas we’ve been through—and I feel compelled to have something to show for mine.
Throughout my pregnancies I have been asked all the seemingly requisite horrifying questions that pour out of well-meaning strangers. “Are you sure you’re not having twins?” is among my favorite, implying that I’m so large there is no humanly way possible that I’m carrying a singleton. I feel like saying, “Are you for real, people?! How do you not know what NOT to say to pregnant ladies?”
I’ve technically been pregnant three times now. I have two healthy children to show for it, and one life-threatening miscarriage that rendered me numb for a time. One medicated birth, an unmedicated D&C by necessity, and an unmedicated birth by choice. And although the births were gorgeous and smooth, there is no way around the fact that birth is trauma, for both mother and baby. Trauma sticks. All kinds, be they bodily or psychological."
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