I force myself to do it.
I strip it all off and I force myself to look,
The girl who since she was 8 years old always worried and always wanted to look,
I force myself to look now, years after I brought them into this world.
And it is because I have met so many brave women who view their bodies so differently now,
it is because of you, dear Anna.
I do not want you to feel like you have to look any different than you do.
I do not want you to worry about how you look.
I do not want you to say things like, I wish I looked thinner, or prettier, or had better hair.
I just want you to treat your body well,
to be healthy,
to focus on health.
And I want you to love you, and love how you feel, and enjoy how you look.
I want the worry that I carry to melt.
And even if I have to fake it at first, the more I say it, the more I stop the hate coming out of my mouth,
the more I too will believe.
So, here I go...
I see how it has changed, gotten a bit harder and I know it is because it carries the worry of a mother.
My face, it has more wrinkles, and there are times I do not recognize that smile, but the wrinkles are there because I have been smiling.
I have been smiling for almost 20 years now.
I have found my smile and if that means I wear it on my face, then that too will make me smile.
My breasts, they are gone.
But, they were never great or "womanly" to begin with and now, they are gone.
But it is because I was able and lucky enough to feed two babies.
There are women that want to, and can't,
woman that can and don't want to.
All of those woman still fed their babies, still were capable and loving and amazing mothers.
And luck struck with me,
I wanted to
and I could
so I did.
And ever since, they have gone away.
And now, when I look, well, I remember sitting with you in our chair.
I remember looking down at you, holding you close.
I remember how little you were, how I would massage your ear to keep you awake.
How I would run my finger down your head.
I remember the early mornings and the little noises.
And yes, I remember how lonely it was too, how I felt so attached to you.
But that is why they are gone, and that is okay.
Those moments of just us, they are some of my warmest memories.
My eyes go further down and this part is hard for me.
But, I will do this.
First, there is my stomach.
It has skin that is almost not attached to me, just loose.
And there IS beauty in that.
I carried two hearts,
Do you know how many women dream of carrying a heart and cannot?
Do you know how much I prayed you would find us?
I shared my body with little faces, two little hands and two babies that hiccuped in my belly.
I felt movement and growth.
I watched you roll over and felt you fall asleep.
I remember butterfly first movements.
I gained and lost and gained and lost 35 pounds.
And in the end, I got to hold a healthy gorgeous baby that through this miracle of life got to come home with us.
So many women do not go home with their babies, and we got to.
I survived two surgeries.
And now that means I have a flap of skin that will not go away.
And as my eyes look down a little more, I see the scar.
It's how you came into this world.
Both of you.
And for the longest time (and if I am honest, I should admit that I still do most of the time)
I look at the scar and I feel shame.
Not for the obvious reason of the fact that my body is scarred but because of the fact that it's a reminder of what I could not do.
I could not have you naturally.
And so, surgery.
And so, a permanent scar.
Right there, front and center.
Red, long and forever a part of me.
Like the two of you, forever a part of me.
And I look, I run gentle fingers over it because even after two years, it is still a weird sensitive.
And I make peace.
I make peace with the loose and I make peace with the forever scar.
I make peace.
I am different.
I will continue to look different.
I am continuing to change.
I am forever different since you came into this world and
that is more than okay.
Everything else has changed too.
My body is just one part of the change.
So I look at my face that carries memories and laughter and worry.
I look at my body that carries skin where you once rested and were a part of me.
I look at my scar that started your first independent breath.
And I let go of any image that I have had.
And for the first time since I was 8,
I let go.
No more shame.
No more hate.
No more wishing.
No more obsessing.
No more hateful words.
No more self insults.
I carry beauty.
I got to carry you both.
I got to see you enter this world.
I get to mother you.
I get this time.
And that defines beauty.