‘Pregnant at 18, I heard, ‘You’re young, you’ll bounce back!’ It became etched in my mind. Stretch marks and loose skin? BAD.’: Mom learns to cherish postpartum body, ‘This body is my home’

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“I remember announcing I was pregnant at eighteen. Of course, I was greeted with the usual ‘You’re so young!?’ and all of that. But one comment that has always stuck out to me was, ‘You’re young, so at least you’ll probably bounce back!’ Or ‘It’s better to have them young, fewer stretch-marks!’ It became etched in my mind at a young age.

Stretch marks and having loose skin = bad.

After I had my daughter, I struggled for a long time. I didn’t like my belly button, and I would hide it. I even tried to have it pierced but was told by the piercer he had never seen a belly button like mine. I, at the time, had a mini hernia.

I left the shop crying. I vowed from that day to never show my belly button or even the lower part of my stomach.

When I became pregnant with my son, I tried all of the stretch mark creams, all of the things supposed to help you with loose skin after a baby.

After I had my son, I hated what I saw in the mirror.

I would never show my stomach.

I would turn away from friends when we were getting dressed.

I would only wear high rise leggings or jeans.

I would go red and hot at any time my stomach accidentally showed.

One day, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed, ya know, making me feel more like sh*t, and I realized, when did natural bodies become so unwanted or so undesired?

Who decided loose skin and stretch marks weren’t sexy?

Weren’t good enough?

Weren’t beautiful enough?

When did it become a thing to push all of these products on you in hopes to lose all of the things your life and your kids gave you?

I looked down at my tummy while I was lying on my side, and saw the ripples.

I saw the marks.

I saw the stretched belly button.

And I smiled.

This body is my home.

It was the home of my kids.

I still, to this day, apologize to myself for how I have talked about it for so long.

For letting myself forget how beautiful natural bodies are.

Next time you are looking in the mirror, wishing your stomach were back to the way it was before kids, remember all your body has done for you and continues to do.

Thank your body.

Apologize to it.

Love it.

Stretch marks, cellulite, rolls, and different belly buttons are normal.

Beautiful.

Admirable.

Next time look in the mirror and think of all your body has done for you.

It’s truly remarkable and incredible.”

Courtesy of Caitlin Fladager
Courtesy of Caitlin Fladager

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Caitlin Fladager, and originally appeared here. You can follow her journey on Facebook and InstagramSubmit your own story here, and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more from Caitlin:

‘I started telling my 5-year-old, ‘I can’t wait to meet the boy or girl you bring home to mommy when you grow up.’ I always get shocked eyes.’: Mom says ‘I want my children to know I will always love them’

‘At 22, I had two kids and still couldn’t drive. Every time a car got behind me, I had to pull over and cry.’: Woman battling anxiety says ‘don’t let anyone make you feel less for not driving’

‘I’m the backpack of the family. I carry all of your things. Put it all on me. Physically, and mentally.’: Mom pens sweet letter to children, ‘I love being your safe space’

‘Anxiety is just in your head.’ ‘It’s not as bad as you make it out to be.’ This is what anxiety looks like. My raw, scratched up face and chest.’: Woman candidly shares the reality of anxiety

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