I have a love hate relationship with my body. This is a feeling which I believe many women share. Often, I find myself criticizing the size of my thighs, or the current state of my breasts, as I look in the mirror. My clothes become camouflage for the pouch of a belly that lies underneath. In my thirty two years of life, my body has remained solid and strong. I truly love me, but think I could love me a little more if there was a little less of me!
It is almost comical to think that my battle scarred belly can be a place where I hold tremendous pride. However, underneath the stretch marks lies my story.
I was a newlywed, living my happily ever after when I became sick. Luckily a doctor fresh out of residency saw me on that fateful day I walked into the clinic. A more seasoned doctor likely would have taken my list of symptoms and simply diagnosed it a muscle spasm and sent me home with painkillers.
God knows what my fate would have been.
Instead, this doctor sent me to the emergency room as a precaution, and some six hours later, I was admitted and hooked up to an IV receiving blood thinners to prevent the clot that had formed in my lungs from passing into my heart. A scenario in which the clot could have killed me.
After a week in the hospital, vials upon vials of blood, and visits from countless specialists, I was released home, on blood thinners, with the instructions to take it easy. Later visits to hematologists, cardiologists, and primary care doctors, agreed that it was a pulmonary embolism caused most likely from birth control medication. It was unknown what my future would hold, and how this could potentially affect pregnancy in the future.
I was terrified and cursed my body.
I was young, healthy, and newly married. I believed that I should not have had to deal with this.
Almost 10 months after that fateful day, Bryan and I met with a maternal fetal medicine specialist to discuss pregnancy, more importantly pregnancy for me. Knowing my history, we met for twenty minutes and left the office with the green light to stop medication and try to have a baby.
I trusted that my body was strong and could handle it.
It was that easy, as I became pregnant almost immediately. From the moment I heard the heartbeat at seven weeks, I had a responsibility, and fear slowly crept into my head.
Would I miscarry?
Would I have another clot?
Would something worse happen?
I was back on blood thinners, this time intravenous one. Every night, I would take the needle out of the package and into my belly I would push. For thirty-two weeks, I did this as my belly became larger and the bruises became more pronounced.
With each week of my pregnancy, I began to trust my body.
It was strong.
It would keep my baby healthy.
It would keep me healthy.
I took pride in each shot, as it was another day I got to be pregnant, another day I was alive.
Moira was born perfect.
Weeks later, I looked at my deflated belly, stretched and sagging in the mirror. While it wasn't classically beautiful, I looked past the checkerboard and saw a place of power. My body had survived a blood clot and then sustained a life for nearly 39 weeks.
How can I not be proud of all that it accomplished in a short amount of time?
Now when I look in the mirror, I push those negative thoughts away as I remind myself of how truly miraculous and amazing my body is, stretchmarks and all.