Over and over I’ve seen other moms talk about their stretch marks as ‘tiger stripes’, ‘warrior scars’, ‘hope wounds’, but I hated mine. And the worst part was I couldn’t tell anyone how much I hated them. I remember starting the conversation with a friend of mine. “I had the baby and now my skin is all stretched out of shape…” She called it glorious. Said that we should embrace our bodies and be so happy with what we’ve accomplished. I carried a baby for a little over nine months, I’m proud of that. But the way my body looks now? Here’s the truth…and it’s something we mommies don’t want to talk about: I put off intimacy with my husband after pregnancy because I was ashamed of my body. And, I know I’m not alone.
I Put Off Intimacy With My Husband After Pregnancy Because I Was Ashamed Of My Body
My baby boy was 8 lbs, 15 ozs of perfection. Cute little button nose, bright eyes, happy little sighs after he ate – literally every single time. From day one I could see my husband in my little’s face. The way his chin tilted, the angle of his eyes, even the shape of his tiny little fingers reminded me of my husband. All babies have the same fingers, right? No. I swear to you his were different. They were his daddy one hundred percent. And I loved every inch of both of ‘my men’.
But me? After that long pregnancy I thought I’d be super excited about finally getting back to the point where my hubby and I could enjoy our ‘adult’ time, but instead I found myself making excuses not to ‘do the deed’. Things like, “The baby needs to be fed.” Or changed. Or rocked. Or there was always laundry to do, and cleaning, and after a little while I could even use the excuse of my periods starting up again.
The hurt in my husband’s eyes was unavoidable. I could tell he felt ignored, confused, and probably very sad about our lack of intimacy. This one time – this one time really broke me. I stood in front of the bathroom sink, brushing my teeth one morning before the baby woke up, while I thought my husband was downstairs, but instead he slid into the bathroom behind me. His hand touched my stomach and I pulled away. I didn’t want him to feel my stretched, flabby skin. “The baby’s going to be up any minute,” I said, brushing off the frustration I could see storming on my beloved’s face. “I have to brush my teeth or I won’t get the chance.”
He didn’t say anything after that. He pulled away and left.
That’s the day I realized if I didn’t do something about my own self-conscious body image, I’d end up pushing my husband away. I tried embracing the marks. Feeling the ridges, rubbing cream on them, but all it ended up doing was making me hate my newly deformed skin more.
That night once the baby fell asleep, I finally fessed up to the hubster about what was going on.
“Stop.” That was his response.
“Just stop hating myself?” I asked. “Stop hating how my breasts aren’t in the right spot anymore, or how my skin is so baggy I could smuggle food into the theater? Stop wishing you’d get amnesia and forget what I looked like before?”
We actually talked. For a while talked. Like, until the baby woke up to eat talked. He told me I need to stop comparing my body to the way it looked before our baby was born. I was a different person then. And my body was different. He said that my stretch marks were like any other scar – a reminder of what I’d been through. That didn’t make them sexy, or weird, or a deformity, or something I even had to embrace right away. They existed because I’d spent nine months growing another entire human being.
And no, we didn’t have sex that night. But I let him touch me again. Finally. And honestly? It felt really good.