Friday, May 25, 2007

Of Moving Mountains

By popular demand*, above is a picture of my pregnant belly (my "Arabelly!"), several weeks before the end of my pregnancy.
Yes, it got even larger.
Early in the pregnancy, when I found out I was carrying twins, I frantically did at least three or four Internet searches using variations on the term "twin skin," sobbing all the while. I brainstormed ways to raise thousands of disposable dollars so that I could get a tummy tuck. I purchased several jars of Tummy Honey Butter (highly recommended, by the way) at $20 a pop, and slathered it on religiously, morning and night. I lost about as much sleep over the anticipated condition of my stomach as I did to my shrinking bladder space.
As the pregnancy progressed, various other concerns began to overshadow my stomach worries. I stopped obsessing, and was pleased to discover that, at 32 weeks, I didn't even have a stretch mark. I was extremely fortunate; I managed to complete the pregnancy without them. I still feared, however, for crepey skin.
For a week or so after delivery, like many other women, I still looked pregnant. Gradually, my stomach went down. I got back into (most of) my prepregnancy jeans at about a month postpartum.
Now, at 12 weeks, my stomach is within spitting distance of where it was before. The skin isn't as firm as it was, but it's pretty darn close, and will probably continue to get more so. Surprisingly enough, what bothers me the most about the way I look now isn't the size of my stomach, or the condition of my skin, or even the cesarean scar that I dreaded and feared. What bothers me the most is my still-present linea nigra, and the largest scar from my laparoscopy, which, unfortunately, is located right in the path of the line.
It's strange; these two things bother me quite a bit. Yet, at the same time, I've never been more pleased with or proud of my body, and the astonishing feat it accomplished.
It's pretty easy for me now to post a picture of my large pregnant belly, even though I was fairly sensitive about it during my pregnancy. I'm still working up to showing my postpartum belly. Part of me really wants to; I'm proud of the pregnancy, and I'm proud of my recovery. All things considered, I look great. But I don't look the way I used to, the way I spent nearly thirty years of my life. I think I may try writing a short piece about it for The Shape of a Mother. If I do, I'll post the picture here. In the meantime, I'm just trying to make sense of myself as this new person. This mother.
*When I say "by popular demand," I mean, "My lovely friend Tammie asked me for this picture."


Blogger Tink said...

What a gorgeous "baby holder". That's what my little brother used to call pregnant women's bellies. You did an amazing thing Arabella. There's NO shame in that.

10:43 AM  
Blogger Mamalujo said...

You made my day! I think a woman's pregnant belly is one of the most beautiful things, ever. And there's nothing wrong with being proud of yourself and your success at getting back to a semblance of your pre-pregnancy self. Still, as the hubby of a woman who also performed this miracle of pregnancy and who now frets over her aging body, affected by those pregnancies over ten years ago now, I would also venture to say that the man in your life loves YOU, not your body. You are so much more than it.

2:43 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Harridan said...

{Insert wolf whistle here}! You look(ed) great pregnant! And, considering you fit back into your pre-pregnancy clothes after a month (which I still haven't managed after 6 weeks), I have no doubt you look great now, too.

That said, I know how private you are, so I am impressed that you posted this photo, and that you're considering posting on SOAM. I'm thinking about it, too -- but I think my photos won't be quite as all-baring as some women's.

Thanks for posting this!

P.S. I think the linea negra goes away after a while, so its presence on your body should be relatively short-lived.

4:08 PM  
Blogger mamatulip said...

The thing that bothers me the most about my post-partum belly are my stretch marks. I got them *everywhere* with Julia...and I mean everywhere. Sometimes I have a hard time looking at myself in the mirror...but then I look at my kids and think to myself that it's worth it.

Your belly is beautiful, and so is this post.

8:24 PM  
Anonymous V-Grrrl said...

Don't fret over your linea nigra. I could still see a trace of it when my daughter turned a year old, but it did disappear completely eventually.

I'm amazed your body was able to return to close to normal. My niece went full term with her twin boys, delivered them vaginally without anesthetic, they each weighed over 7 lbs., she was able to nurse them both without having to supplement. Yeah her! Amazing pregnancy! Amazing delivery!

However, her belly was TRASHED. She too was back in her jeans before long but she had to tuck her stomach skin into it like a shirt. Her twins are almost 10 years old now, she had a third son (who weighed 10 pounds!), and while she's an organic-loving Zen chick in so many ways, she completely would go for a tummy tuck if she could afford it!

11:49 AM  
Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

Yes, yes, the line eventually disappears but it takes a while. My stomach was soooooo big (not even twins!) that I couldn't see it without a mirror!

5:17 PM  
Anonymous TB said...

That. Is. Awesome. Thanks so much for posting it. And even MORE awesome that you're back to pre pregnancy size. If I didn't like you so much, I'd hate you :o)
And I know what you mean about trying to find the new you as a mother. Not your old self, not totally someone different either.

9:50 PM  
Blogger PEACE said...

Truly amazing! I think if I had seen that picture prior to having kids I would have ran like wildfire everytime my husband even looked at me like he was randy!

I remember with my first that I was certain that the skin on my stomach was sure to burst open around the seventh month it was so stretched and tight. I, too, was so afraid of getting stretch marks, but didn't. My daughter, however, got tons.

The line will go away! Forget about it, and one day you will just notice that it is gone.

Congratulations on the twins and the stomach!

8:46 PM  
Blogger Mignon said...

I was kinda bummed when my line went away. It distracted me from the stretch marks. Nah, not really. I mean, I still saw the stretch marks, but the line looked kinda badass. And you know how I am about the badassness.

5:46 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Harridan said...

How come I get a Mignon smackdown and you don't? Sigh.

6:12 PM  

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