Why I Shared My Postpartum Stretch Marks on the Internet
When I found out I was pregnant with my first baby, I was both overjoyed and terrified. I knew that being pregnant was going to be a different kind of adventure, and that my body would go through some crazy things. I didn’t care, though, because the end result would be a beautiful baby to love and cuddle and get pooped on by.
When I found out he was sick with a heart condition at 18 weeks along, my world crashed. The thought had never crossed my mind that we wouldn’t have a healthy baby. You just assume that everything will go as planned after you hit the “safe from miscarriage” mark at week 13.
We did everything we possibly could for our son, but his little heart stopped beating on January 21st, 2017 at 30 weeks along, and he was born still the next day.
As hard as it is to think about, I now understand that there is no “safe” point in pregnancy. There are things that can and do go wrong for many mothers in the second and third trimesters, too.
I’m sorry if I’ve scared you, but this is important.
There’s an entire community out there of bereaved moms like me whose babies are born still. At 29 years old and pregnant for the first time, I had no clue that this community existed. I read TONS about pregnancy during those first blissful months, and yet I never came across anything about stillbirth.
Why isn’t stillbirth something we talk about?? Why is it so hidden from the world? There’s an entire community of bereaved moms out there, like me, who need support. We need kind words, kind actions, and we need you to know that we exist.
Many of us are told things like “at least you know you can get pregnant”, “at least you didn’t get to know the baby before it died”, and “you can have another baby”.
Can you see the absurdity in those statements? Our hearts and souls are broken; we yearn for the baby we lost. That baby was a human, a real child that we created and held inside our bodies that died, that never got his or her chance at life.
This is why I posted my postpartum body on the internet.
Those stretch marks on my stomach are real. So is the fat that hangs where my Jonah once was. Yet, here I am, with empty arms. There are many brave moms who post pictures of their postpartum bodies, but there’s a major difference between me and them: they have their baby. Their pictures say “look at this real and strong body that created this perfect human”.
Well, I don’t have my perfect human. I have a bear that weighs the same as him to comfort me, to keep my empty arms occupied. My body has changed a lot, and it’s really, really hard to manage my feelings around this.
This is something that a lot of bereaved moms have problems with. We have the same postpartum body issues, but they’re magnified by the fact that our babies died.
So, my stretch marks are on the internet for stillbirth awareness. Stillbirth is a real thing that happens randomly and cannot be soothed by any statements that begin with “at least”. We need comfort and compassion and for you to acknowledge the baby that was lost. Say his or her name. Ask questions about him. Let us talk about him.
Let’s not keep the tragedy of stillbirth quiet any longer.
See my original post with another picture on Letters to Jonah.