Tag Archives: stretch marks

Bikini Body?

Ordering a bathing suit online is a ridiculous idea.  But when the company that makes the running shorts that make me feel hot, not just athletic, had a sale – I took the bait.

It is the time of the year that I have the Great Bikini Debate.  Last summer I tried to embrace the stretch marks. I gave it a solid effort.  I even tried to tan those mofos.  If I am 100% honest – the red bikini took a backseat to the trusty one piece the great majority of the time. And now here I am again, another year older, another year closer to the Year I Should Really Stop Wearing A Two Piece.  (I am not sure when that is, exactly, but I am certain it exists.)

Standing in my bathroom in the new two piece I could acknowledge that this summer’s bikini body is slightly more toned than last year’s.  I have run my ass off this year and it is starting to show.  Deep breath in.  Deep breath out.  Bend over.  Sit down.  Eh.  It is what it is but it is unlikely that it is gonna get better than it is right now, right? The fit is ok.  But the color?

Brown. The brown bikini was the only sale suit in my size.  I just don’t know about brown.

I called to Emily.  “Come here.  What do you think?”

She just stood there with her hand on her tiny little hip.   “Hmmm.  That’s a tricky question. I’m trying to decide what you want me to say.” Damn kid.

“The truth,” I answer.

“Well, you have really big boobs and that top is really big like a lot of fabric but weirdly it makes your boobs look not as noticeable. And I think it’s ok that your stomach is like, well, you know like that because you had two babies and you’re a great mom and you look pretty.” She paused to take a breath.  “Do you like it?”

I love her. I do.  I should have been more clear, I suppose.  “Do you like this color brown?” Sigh.

Back tattoo teapot

If the bikini makes its presence known this summer than the excitement will be two-fold.  My stomach and the stretch marks there really get all the press.  But it is high time that the wreckage on my hips and lower back get a little face time.  The 2014 new ink highlights them nicely.  Last summer’s motto seemed to be “if you can’t tone it, tan it.” This summer it is looking like I am embracing the “if you can’t tone it, tattoo it” philosophy.  Someday perhaps I will get to that level of peace where I don’t even have this conversation with myself. Maybe next spring when I am trying on bathing suits for my 39th summer I will only ask myself the question that my sweet Emily June asked me –  “Do I like it?” Maybe.  Someday.

The Secret Under My Sensible One Piece

It wouldn’t be easy to choose one word to define myself.  I like to think of myself as pretty multi-dimensional.  I am a lot of things.  Perhaps first and foremost I am your classic over-achieving liberal arts major, jack of all trades and master of none.  So, to choose one word, that is almost impossible.

But if I had to pick one  – I am a mother.

I am grateful that my journey to motherhood was easy.  It was not without tears and pain but I consider myself lucky. I grew two healthy, beautiful little girls.  I grew them.  Inside of me.  And I brought them in to the world.  And thus far I have lived to tell the tale.

I am a mother.

And I am beyond proud. And yet I keep this secret underneath my clothes.  It’s not really an issue nine months of the year, but the summer comes and I feel it.  Shame.

I have two girls.  I tell them both that they should be proud just exactly as they are.  But I don’t feel that way about myself.

I feel strong.  I am stronger than I have been in my lifetime.  I feel capable. Even with some sore muscles from overuse I am proud of the work I have done recently.  I am becoming an athlete.  My clothes feel good.  I stand up straight.  I am proud of this body that grew these two babies and continues to help me grow every day.  But I can’t seem to feel proud of my stretch marks.

Not long after Lucy was born I made peace with them, the tiger stripes I earned in my last pregnancy.  But peace making is a far cry from pride.

In the last month I have done this silly little song and dance.  Get the girls ready to go to the pool.   Put on the two piece.  Look in the mirror.  Take off the two piece and put the one piece on.  Go to the pool.  The other day Em walked in my bathroom while I had on a bikini. “Oh, I like that one, Mom.  You got that for your honeymoon. ”

That was all she said.  She left my bathroom and I stood there, stomach glowing white against the rest of my month long summer tan.  I tried to imagine what I would say when I came out in  my signature black one-piece and not the red bikini  she had just seen me wearing.  I came up empty.  There really wasn’t any good reason to change.  None at all.  Except the niggling shame surrounding my smushy stomach and aging stretchmarks.  And that just wasn’t a good enough reason.

This week I did something that made me uncomfortable. I wore that damn bikini all week.  And I chased my little Lucy back and forth.  And I sat in the baby pool.  And I ate an ice cream cone.  And I dove for plastic rings with the big kids.  In my bikini.  And you know what?  My stretch marks didn’t actually have anything to do with any of it.

I can’t quite say that I am proud of them yet.  But I am not ashamed.  And that is a step in the right direction.

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Polishing a turd

I have a weakness for talking animal movies. Babe. Dr Dolittle. Beverly Hills Chihuahua (that might be the most embarrassing thing I have admitted here.) I suppose I watched either too much or not enough Mr. Ed as a kid.

Emily has inherited this love of mine. Together we were watching Racing Stripes, a plucky little film about a zebra named Stripes that thinks he is a race horse and the young girl that believes in him!

I was doing situps while watching this fine film and entertaining Lucy as she lolled about on the floor.

“You’ve been training Stripes haven’t you?” said the TV.

I started to laugh. Why yes, yes, I have, how kind of you to notice. I have been training Stripes. If by training Stripes you mean trying to embrace my wicked stretch marks and do something about the dangly skin they occupy. Progress has been slow. I know, I know, it took nine months to stretch the skin it will take at least that long for it to tighten up. But the greater truth? I have never exactly had anything resembling abdominal muscles. I’m not aiming for a six pack. I don’t expect to be able to sit down and not have pudge. I am 36. I have two kids. And I love beer, wine and peanut M&Ms. But it would be nice if my stomach didn’t hang over my jeans while I was standing up. That is a realistic goal, no?

And this friends, is how you polish a turd. Urban Dictionary defines turd polishing as “The act of trying to make something hopelessly weak and unattractive appear strong and appealing. An impossible process that usually results in a larger, uglier turd.”

I beg to differ. I think you can polish a turd.

Exhibit A: The Turd

Note the stretch marks, the muffin top and the beloved elastic waist maternity jeans. I know I should retire them. But they are so damn tasty, those jeans. And they love me so. It is my hope that in writing this I will shame myself in to letting them join their friends in the giant box of maternity clothes in my attic.

Exhibit B: The Bright & Shiny Turd

Lucy shall henceforth be named The Turd Polisher. It’s really all about your point of view. As she approaches six month’s old in July I am reminded that I will have ninety days to make good on the old “It took nine months to gain it, it will take nine months to lose it” rule.

I took the first picture yesterday. I was going to write about my progress towards accepting my post-second baby body. Yesterday, in my maternity jeans and feeling hard on myself I didn’t feel like I had made much progress at all.

This morning as I dressed to go for a jog Emily said “You know you could just wear that bra, it is like a running bra, so it is okay to not wear a shirt.” And I looked in the mirror with Lucy on my hip and I thought maybe she was on to something.

I think I am gonna ditch those jeans. And I am getting dangerously close to being the lady at the pool with all the tattoos that pees in the shower and wears a bikini even when she probably shouldn’t. If you can’t tone it, tan it.

Marital Relations in Three Easy Steps

Jeans come in a lot of varieties.  Unfortunately for me the only pairs of mine that fit in a manner that will allow for me to both stand up and sit down were first trimester maternity jeans.  Their elastic waist band and relative stretchiness are fantastic for the gal that is not interested in wearing them ten days in a row.  By mid afternoon I can’t keep them up and nothing says “these pants don’t really fit me” like constantly tugging at them.  I can forget all about the second day.  And by day three? They are like clown pants by then.

So, I was left with two options.  Squeeze in to my pre-pregnancy “fat jeans” (the jeans I wear right before I get my period, to events that require heavy eating or when I am planning on napping in my clothes) or buy a new pair in a larger size than I care to admit.

I chose option two.  I’d rather wear large, unattractive jeans than feel like a sausage.    The dreaded Mom jean, capable of making your perfectly round ass look completely flat or  the “boyfriend jean” a fancy way to say completely unflattering on everyone that is not 85 pounds or has any hips whatsofuckingever were on sale the day that I decided I’d take the plunge.  I was not, I repeat, not paying full price for jeans I only planned on wearing for a short time.

The Mom Jeans won.  I thought I’d be fine.  So what if they made my ass look like the broad side of a truck?  Stacy London has informed me that  Lee Riders will be instantly slimming, and that it will be “easy to look and feel my best.”  And they’re cheap.  Less than twenty bucks cheap.

Four days.  My Lee Riders and their slimming tummy control.  We made it for four days before I decided that when you have no abs whatsoever and you wear a nursing bra or  a shelf bra tank top that smashes your girls in to pancakes, albeit gigantic pancakes that give you armpit boob and cleavage all at once it is not wise to wear jeans that come up to said armpits and completely disguise your ass.  My ass is is the only place that twenty extra pounds comes in handy.  What was I thinking?  I needed ass-friendly cheap jeans.  STAT.

Old Navy coupon – you and me.  It was on.  It took six pairs of jeans.  One friend.  One dressing room.  Zero cocktails or tears.  And The Diva Skinny Jeans and I have made friends.  I intend to wear them every day for at least the next month.  And at thirty bucks that is still only a dollar a day.

And when you have two more weeks before you get, ahem, back in the saddle (post partum six week check up and a brand new IUD on February 28th, hollaaa!   Leap year will be memorable this year!) it is important to start early.  Prepping yourself mentally.  For the Big Event known as “resuming marital relations.”

Here’s my guide.  Three easy steps.

Step 1.  Get a pair of jeans that make you feel like a girl.  A regular, good looking, “might some day retire the ginormous full coverage cotton panties in favor of the fancy grown up lady knickers” girl.

Step 2.  Start trying to be less critical.  See yourself as others see you.  Not as your slightly Body Dysmorphic Disorder-ish self views you.  Step 2 is easy if you have a little loverboy living across the street.  This weekend Em’s buddy, Kellan, breezed through the living room and stopped dead in his tracks.  “HOW DID YOU GET SO SKINNY SO FAST??”  and he hugged me.  He said I was cute.  He’s six.  But I don’t care. I told MQD if he ever comes home to a Dear John letter explaining that I need to feel beautiful, go find Kellan.  I’ll be with him.

*source unknown

Step 3.  Make peace with the “tiger stripes.”   Last week MQD sent me this image.  He had seen it on a clever how to be a good dad blog.  I’ve since seen it in several places around the internetz.  It would be a hell of a lot easier to make friends with my “tiger stripes” if I had abs of ummm… not even steel.  What is a slightly less strong metal?  Abs of brass?  Shit, I’d settle for abs of cottage cheese if I could just have a visible waist.  I digress.

Step 3 ain’t easy.  But then neither is pimpin’.  And neither is just getting the fuck over yourself I have discovered.  But it seems the most direct path towards acceptance for me is to spill it. The truth.  My big deep, dark secrets spilled out in front of everyone.  A couple of weeks ago I posted a picture of my post-partum self.  I received a lot of kind comments and emails.  But it still sucked.
And it still sucks today.  But I am making progress.  Because if I have to be totally honest with myself I am more inclined to want to photoshop out the toothpaste on my bathroom mirror than the armpit boob or the stretch marks.  Now I can’t guarantee that is forward progress.  But it has to count for something.