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Friday, February 17, 2012

New Skin

Drawing of my belly from my womb journal, while pregnant.
My mother was always ashamed of her flat belly full of stretch marks.  She didn't like me to tug at her loose skin, or lift up her shirt in public.  I thought her whole body was perfect: her huge butt and thighs; tiny waist; delicate shoulders and arms; small, saggy breasts; and big poof of black curls.  Believing my body would have the same fate, I surrendered to stretch marks during my first pregnancy. "You better buy cocoa butter!", my mother warned.  "Maaahh...", I'd dismissively utter.  I didn't think they were anything unusual to prevent.

My first son and I, seven months postpartum.
Everyone was shocked when my body quickly shrank back to it's pre-pregnant state without a trace on my belly.  By month three postpartum, I looked like the old Panquetzani again.  My mother would show off my body at the beach or pool, and women would gather around to see for themselves the stretch-mark free Panquetzani.  I never bragged, changed my style of clothing, or felt superior to other mothers who did have stretch marks.  Nevertheless, I was proud that my body recovered sin chiste.

Pregnancy journal entry, after seeing my stripes.
I was so confident that my second pregnancy would be the same.  I put on the usual amount of shea butter, but by my ninth month, beautiful rays of brown broke through my skin.  Stretch marks! Although I wasn't wishing for them, I felt the same way I felt during menarche, my first period.  Kind of scared, happy, and really excited.  How will I feel about these? Will they get worse, or go away? I loved them, and embraced them. I showed people, wrote about it in my womb journal, and meditated on how I really felt about them.  Will I still love these when I'm thin again? When my husband and I make love, will I still feel sexy?

Now, finally at a year postpartum, they have faded, and shrunk into tiny streaks, tracing where my skin reached it's limit. My tight abs and skin are gone. Wow.  Hello, new wrinkly skin. On my left side, where I carried my fetuses, I can see more stretch marks. I remember massaging my babies, seeing them through my skin, and being one with them.  My sons' pulling at my loose skin, lifting up my shirt to see my belly, and gentle petting of my battle scars, reminds me of how I embarrassed my mom.  Thankfully, I have no shame.  I know they look at me with the flawless eyes of love, as I looked at my mother. "Es que me ves con ojos de amor.", my grandmother says.

Like Mexica warrior men exhibited their calves, showing off their battle scars with short mantles, I proudly wear my stretch marks.  Of course, I don't walk around in tiny shirts, or wear my bikini out of context, but they are a part of my new body. I embrace each longitita and stretch mark as a part of the new me. 
My tiny stretch marks being caressed by Akinyemi