New mothers find plenty of things to dislike about their bodies after delivery: lopsided boobs, stretch marks, a perma-pooch. Tabloids in the check out aisle highlight celebrities who managed to LOSE THE BABY WEIGHT IN 5 WEEKS! (and shame the women who take longer—not that it’s anyone’s business). Despite these changes, I managed to love my postpartum body and find a positive body image—by appreciating my linea nigra.
Body changes through pregnancy
We undergo enormous changes in the 40 weeks it takes to, you know, create an entire human being from scratch. Coming to terms with a body that looks and feels drastically different overnight can be a difficult task.
I have loved one change since the first time I noticed it, though: the linea nigra.
The dark vertical line showed up on my belly sometime in my second trimester. It stretched from my belly button on down.
My postpartum body: my linea nigra
One night a few days after Peeper was born, I was soaking in the bath when I considered it anew. I was no longer pregnant, but I still bore the mark of pregnancy. My whole belly was soft and looked nothing like it ever had. But here was a line that marked me as a mother.
That night as I lay in the tub, I considered getting a tattoo over the linea nigra so it would never disappear. (Yes, I was slightly delirious.) I never wanted it to disappear.
My daughter is almost 9 months old now. She’s been in the world nearly as long as she grew in me. And that beautiful line has faded, though I can still see it—barely.
The only postpartum body constant is change
Its disappearance is just one more physical change I’ll come to accept and appreciate. My body is wondrous. It held and nurtured my daughter for more than 40 weeks then endured the most excruciating ordeal imaginable to bring her into my and my husband’s waiting embrace. And it continues to transform as Peeper gets older.
As the linea nigra fades away, I’ll remember it as fondly as I do the feeling of my daughter kicking and twisting inside me. I’ll remember how it didn’t plunge straight down but meandered to the right, like a river. And I’ll remember how it was an outward sign that I held my daughter on the inside before I held her in my arms.
PS – If you liked this post, check out my post about realizing my linea nigra is gone.