I'm identifying a lot with the beach in this pregnancy. I could make this sound really romantic- like how pregnancy changes as frequently as the tide, and is just as powerful and unpredictable with it. Or how in hypnobirthing, we're taught to treat our contractions (or surges) as waves that build in intensity, and then dissipate. But really, I'm talking about how when I tried to get out of the bath the other day, my arms couldn't support my weight, and I flopped back down, sending well over half the water out onto the floor, with all the grace of a beached whale. Or how, my stretch marks remind me of the ripples on the wet sand, near the shoreline.
I've had stretch marks before. My outer thighs fell foul of a few squiggles when I turned 17 or so, but nothing major. But this has been different. I blinked and suddenly my inner legs were covered in angry red marks, as though a cat which once had slept soundly on my lap, had been spooked and proceeded to violently attack me. And then they were purple. And then they were moving around to the front of my thighs. And soon, my legs looked like I was wearing hotpants made of fringe. (It should be noted that I do actually own a pair of hotpants made of fringe, and that if I tried to wear them now, they would 100% not get past my knees).
Now, to me, stretch marks were what happened when your skin literally stretched to the point where it split. It always sounded painful, like when Alice busted out of the house in Wonderland. But my thighs are just as jiggly as they've always been? I'm absolutely gobsmacked that at 35 weeks my stomach is still relatively clear. I've been moisturising that daily as soon as I found out I was pregnant, so maybe that's helped- but I ignored the rest. Perhaps that was my mistake. Perhaps it was nothing.
Now I know it's not very body positive to say I hate them, but I really do. They suck. I know that this summer will be annoying. It will likely be a season of furious efforts to tan the lines away in the privacy of my back garden as soon as the sun makes an appearance. It's going to be a vigorous daily moisturising and exfoliating routine, that will leave me even redder than I started. It's going to be googling laser treatment deals, before slamming my laptop shut in a small rage, because the beauty industry has told me I have to spend hundreds on procedures that may not even work. And guilt that I dared think about spending that on myself over my child.
We're supposed to love our lines. They're our tiger stripes, we earned them, we're WARRIORS. But couldn't I have just got a cute badge or something? Or a commemorative mug? Or, you know, a fucking BABY? Believe me, I don't NEED this reminder. Am I vain if I wished my legs weren't covered in streaks? Is it fatphobic to hate that I have gained 2 stone in 8 months? Am I a bad role model because I openly admit that I miss the body I had in 2018?
I'm the kind of person that moans about having a jelly belly, or massive bloating problem, but then does nothing about it. I like to whinge, but I don't really *care*. And maybe this will be the same. Realistically, River isn't going to give a shit. Robert says he doesn't give a shit. Maybe, actually, I don't give a shit. It's not going to stop me wearing shorts (the chub rub might- comfort over style ALWAYS for me), or a swimming costume on the beach. It's not going to stop me sharing photos of them, no matter what the dickheads in the tabloid comment sections say. It's not going to stop me from being honest about my tricky relationship with them. I can hate them, and not be ashamed of them at the same time.
And maybe that's the most body positive way of all.