My sister remembers thinking, a few months after her son was born, that her belly looked amazingly like a prune. She had met a woman at the beach who’d had a baby the previous year and her belly was flat as a board without a mark on it. My sister’s, on the other hand, appeared to be a deflated balloon with enough stretch marks to look like a map of the city of Cleveland.
Over half of all pregnant women get stretch marks on either their breasts, upper arms, belly, hips, bottom or thighs. Increased hormones combined with a stretching body can weaken the elastic fibers of the skin. Stretch marks have more to do with the elasticity of your skin, a genetic gift (I got them, too!), than with weight gain, although large rapid growth spurts can take their toll. Creams can keep the stretch marks from itching. Within a year after delivery, they will fade from pink or red to white or silver, but they will not disappear.
Over time, the marks on my sister’s belly faded and became less noticeable. But they still annoyed her, for years. Then, when her son was about six years old and they had moved to a new town, she went to a new dermatologist for a check up. When he looked at her abdomen for the first time he said, ‘Wow, you have kids?” and smiled brightly. Suddenly these unattractive stretch marks became her badge of motherhood. She became quite proud of them, which is a good thing because she got quite a few more with her daughter.
While you may end up with a couple or a carload, it’s amazing how a shift in attitude can make them quite beautiful.