Giving birth is not for the feint of heart. Once your body houses a human being, it sometimes feels as though it becomes a foreign entity to you. Things shift, they change, and it doesn't always feel like a positive thing. But one mom's honest post about postpartum stretch marks goes a long way in reminding moms: you've earned it. Whatever happens to your body, own it. Appreciate it. And acknowledge the amazing things your body has accomplished.
Abagail Wedlake, mother to 4-month-old Aubrey, works as an artist, a colorist, and a wig maker, which means she knows a thing or two about the sort of picture-perfect image many people (and many new moms) are expected to project. Especially on social media sharing sites. When Wedlake gave birth to her baby, she decided to go a different route; she decided to share images of her sweet baby girl growing alongside her ever-changing postpartum body. Stretch marks and all. In her Instagram post, she can be seen toting a tutu-clad Aubrey beside her midriff, stretch marks and all. Wedlake wrote that she believed she had "earned her stripes" and is learning to embrace them:
A mark for every breath you took, every blink, every sleepy yawn. One for every time you sucked your thumb and slept in perfect darkness. One for every dream you dreamt. It was your home and where I grew to love you. I’ve earned my stripes and am embracing them more and more everyday. Postpartum bodies are different but show the beauty of being given the chance to bring life into this world.
In an interview with Huffington Post, Wedlake admitted she was seeing too many impossibly perfect bodies portrayed on social media and decided to do her part to shake up the status quo. She wanted to remind moms that "perfect, plastic bodies" are not actually the norm.
I wanted other mothers to see that they are not alone ― that the loose skin and stretch marks are nothing to be ashamed of.
That's not to say Wedlake herself hasn't struggled with her own moments of self doubt. She admitted in that same interview that she was initially "devastated" to see stretch marks on her body during pregnancy.
I got my stretch marks at about 36 weeks pregnant and was devastated, thinking I’d never be able to wear a bikini out in public. That morning before I posted that picture, staring at the mirror holding my daughter, I realized that these are earned. I carried her for nine months and earned these stretch marks and the cesarean scar below them. If that is not the most beautiful thing, I don’t know what is.
In the end, as difficult as pregnancy can be on the body, it's worth it for most parents. Because how can a few stretch marks compare to an entire human being, who would not exist if it hadn't been for you?