Stretch marks and pregnancy go hand in hand. I’ve read the research, I know that logically, all the cocoa butter in the world is not going to stop stretch marks from appearing, and your genetics and rate of growth/weight gain have a lot more to do with it. However, all this logic didn’t stop me from religiously slathering on almond oil, rose hip oil, pure Vitamin E oil and various other butters and potions twice daily throughout the pregnancy in a bid to avoid them.
From the age of 11, I grew a bra size approximately every 5 minutes, until the point that I found myself as a 15 year old girl, in charge of 34G boobs and an impressive array of unsightly dark purple stretch marks peeking out from whatever over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder was available from a mail order catalogue before the high street realised that not everyone was blessed with perky 32As and gave us decent bras for well endowed ladies. I was massively self conscious about my boobs and my stretch marks, but it did get better eventually, with the passage of time. I really can’t remember what came first, me getting over myself, or the stretch marks fading in to little silvery lines. Probably the latter.
So, when I got further and further in to the pregnancy and found myself miraculously stretch mark free, I’ll admit it, I was a teensy bit smug about the whole thing. I had a few thread veins around the side of my bump which I could cope with, but I’d got away without gaining the unsightly purple stripes I’d seen on the forums I frequent. I put it down to looking after myself, assumed the religious application of various oils and creams had stood me in good stead and counted myself as one of the lucky ones.
Then, at the start of week 38, in an attempt to get out of the house quickly, I opened the door on my bump and bashed myself in the belly. I didn’t do it hard, and it didn’t hurt, so I didn’t think anything of it until later that evening when I noticed a purple line in around the same place and passed it off as a bruise.
But the next morning, there was another one next to it.
The morning after that, there were a few more.
Suddenly, I wasn’t so smug after all.
Now, whenever I look at my belly in the mirror (which is roughly a billion times a day), there seems to be a couple more. They’re currently exclusively taking up the space between my belly button and my underwear, meaning they can only be seen properly in a mirror, on tip toes, whilst thrusting belly first at the mirror, much, I’m sure, to the amusement of my husband. I can feel the difference in texture in the skin, and it feels tight and uncomfortable, although there is every possibility this is entirely in my head.
And, as all the books and apps tell me, the home stretch of the pregnancy is where the baby gains the most weight, not to mention the extra water you’re probably retaining. It’s also the time that you’re the least mobile you’ve ever been, due to the fact that you’re the size of an actual house. All this adds up to the likelihood of gaining a lot more weight between now and having the baby, which therefore suggests that my new-found go faster stripes are going to get worse before they get better.
So, in summary: I know there’s nothing I can do about it. I know they’re not as bad as a lot of people’s. Neil has done a wonderful job of listening to me moan and reassuring me that he thinks they’re badass. And I’ve grown another human being, dammit That’s a pretty amazing feat, and if my body doesn’t look the same as it did before, then so be it. Pinterest is full of images of stretch marks and motivational clichéd phrases about tigers earning stripes, and it looks like I’ve finally earned mine.
However, none of this changes the fact that I got THIS CLOSE to the finishing line before the first one appeared, and if my skin could have held its elasticity just a TEENSY bit longer, I would have got away scot-free. For that reason alone, I wholeheartedly reserve the right to be miffed. Neither does it change the fact that I’m grumpy, my hormones are all over the shop, and I’m probably overdue a nap.