As we all know, baby hormones do a lot of weird things to your body. They make you spend more hours than you ever thought possible mulling over various poop-catchers. (Cloth? Disposable? Baseball mitt?) They make getting up from a reclining position a two-man job. And they transform you into a living, breathing road map—if you’re one of the lucky ones (insert sarcasm here).
For the first 20-some-odd weeks of my pregnancy, I hadn’t dedicated much brain space to stretch marks—except to send them occasional bad-thought vibes and slather myself with cocoa butter twice a day in the hopes they’d stay away. Then, a couple of weeks ago, they became a subject near and dear to my heart. Not coincidentally, it was the same day that they became near and dear to my hips.
My husband and I were out for a swim when I noticed an innocuous-looking bump on my side. I assumed it was a mosquito bite or a zit. Because popping pimples is one of my favorite guilty pleasures—along with watching the Bachelorette and eating cake batter—I inspected it further. That’s when I saw the tell-tale, ripply lines. That’s also when I sobbed. Loudly. (If Baby Palmer and I ever have a wailing contest, I can assure you, he’s got nothin’ on me.)
I should have seen the moment coming, really. Stretch marks and I go way back. I first got them at the age of 9 or 10 when I hit a major growth spurt. We’ve been together ever since. They’re like a clingy boyfriend that you’ve known forever but never really liked and can’t seem to get rid of.
They’re also kind of like bugs and baby snakes in that they defy the unwritten rule of the universe that small things are supposed to be cute. There is nothing attractive about a maze of red, blue and white-ish lines across a woman’s hips and belly. Although, reflecting on the color combination, there may be something patriotic about them. As Joyce Armor said, soldiers get stripes on their arms for a job well-done; pregnant women get stretch marks.
While there’s no getting around the fact that stretch marks ain’t pretty, it doesn’t mean they’re not useful. For example, if I ever have to explain the concept of tributaries to Baby Palmer, I’ll be all set. Or, if Tom and I are ever bored, we could map out small town America on my right hip alone. Who knows, by the time we hit week 40, the entire universe might fit, and I could become Baby Palmer’s first school science project. Only time will tell.