Those are my abs. Well, they used to be my abs. They're still under there, somewhere. That photo was taken over a year ago.
Do I miss them? Yeah, they were cute. I miss the strength more than the looks. My muscles just give up the moment the sperm hits the egg and I'm left with an weakening core as pregnancy progresses. My baby was born in August and I am still very weak in the core, which isn't cool because I typically do a lot of walking and I find myself having a harder time due to the muscle weakness there and the lingering effects of the SPD I had during pregnancy. I had a few issues - SPD and high blood pressure - that kept me from keeping as fit as I would have wanted during my pregnancy. I do want to re-build that strength, again. I work as a veterinary technician and you definitely need strength when it comes to restraining animals. I haven't done much in the way of actual exercise since giving birth, but that will change soon.
This isn't just about those glorious abs. It's about skin. It's about loving that integumentary glove that I'm in. There are days when I look at myself in the mirror and my heart nearly sinks. I'm still wearing maternity jeans (the Heidi Klum super skinny jeans from Motherhood - they look like "real" jeans as they don't have a panel). I have a pretty good pooch hanging over the waistband of my jeans. I still look pregnant. Sigh. It does get to me from time to time, I won't lie. The other reason it gets to me is that I want to fit into my old clothes. Not just for superficial reasons, but financial. I really don't want to have to buy new clothes to fit my body this winter. Most of my pre-preggo sweaters and winter clothes can't handle the pooch. And I only have one single pair of jeans that fit. They get washed a lot. Back to the skin. There are plenty o' stretch marks there. It's like my son took a maroon crayon and just scribbled on my belly. My belly kinda looks like my living room walls. I got them when I was pregnant with my son. I probably would have gotten them with my second pregnancy, but miscarrying at 8 weeks means I didn't have a chance. I got them with this last pregnancy. They all crept up, like little glistening worms crawling out of the ground after a rainstorm. I never did anything to "prevent" them. I'm not sure you really can prevent them. I did moisturize my belly with coconut oil (not cocoa butter) simply because it's damn good for your skin.
I remember seeing my first stretch marks when I was pregnant with my son back in 2006. They appeared in the very last weeks of my pregnancy, along with the PUPPS rash. My first thought was, "boo-hoo, I thought I could escape them." I was sad for a moment, but I quickly got over it. I couldn't understand why I had a minor mental fuss about them. Then I realized it's because everyone makes a major fuss about them. Think about it - it's seen as some sort of badge of honor not to get stretch marks. You get high fives from fellow smooth and unmarked-skinned mothers. You earn the right to expose your bump in public without fear of scaring small children with those shiny red tummy tire tracks. Heck, you could even be a bump model. See, I would have been voted off of America's Next Top Bump Model because my my stretch marks. Just like birthing quietly and without pain, you get extra cred for having your abdomen expand to extraordinary lengths without a single bit of crime scene evidence left on your skin.
I get it. They're not the most attractive things in the world. It can be a little startling to see all those red lines scribbled across your belly. I understand that most women in this
There will be a day in the future where my boobs are less full and my abs are back to their usual firm state. The dark red lines will have faded to a whisper. My body will look like it did, for the most part, before I had children. I'll have my stretch marks forever, like fossils on stone, that remind me of my fertility and the fact that my body grew, carried and nourished little lives. So when I look at myself in the mirror now, I'll have to remind myself not to roll my eyes at the muffin-top under my ill-fitting sweater. I'll remember my skin and Mother Nature's tattooed reminders of the miracle of life.