Exhausted after a long day, I plopped into my gastroenterologist’s exam chair and exhaled. It was my last appointment of the day, but my first appointment with him, so we dove in to my medical history as he asked me dozens of questions. Last among them was, “So, have you had any surgeries?”
“Oh yes,” I smiled. “I’ve had two emergency c-sections, my gallbladder removed, an appendectomy, and my wisdom teeth removed…if you count that as a surgery. I came super close to having my colon removed, but I get to hold onto it for now.”
He laughed and said, “I like your positive attitude! Did they remove your gallbladder laparoscopically?”
“Great! Do you know where they made the incisions?”
My positive attitude instantly diminished.
“No,” I replied quietly as he poked and prodded my belly as gastroenterologists do, “I have so many stretch marks from my pregnancies, you couldn’t find the scars from the surgery even if you wanted to.”
He smiled, unphased, and said, “No problem! You’re recovering well from your flare up and that’s great.”
A few minutes later, the fire alarm went off and everyone had to evacuate the building. As we walked outside, I laughed and said to him, “I’m sorry, trouble tends to follow me everywhere I go. I didn’t mean to suck you into the Emanuel Family Trouble Vortex already!”
He asked me about the trouble to which I was referring. I told him about the past five years. I told him about all our family’s moves. About my son’s diagnosis and my daughter’s medical troubles. I told him about my chronic health problems and the myriad emergencies we had had this summer.
I told him about life as it is, without holding back.
My gastroenterologist, turned therapist by a pulled fire alarm, listened, and once the firemen had determined it was a false alarm, we (along with 100 of our newest friends) walked slowly back into the building. Once we reached his office again, he scheduled my next appointment, shook my hand and said, “You’re awesome.”
I realized in that moment how much I needed to hear those words. How often I had told myself the opposite and convinced myself it was true.
Once I had waddled back to and sat down in my car, I looked down at my pregnant belly and smiled as I breathed in the words, I am awesome, and let them fill my tired body with new purpose. And it felt awesome.
So it is with purpose that I tell you, Pregnant mama, you are awesome.
Your body that will carry and birth and feed your babies is awesome. Your soul that will nurture and nourish and encourage your precious children is awesome. Your hands that will clean and scrub and hold your little ones is awesome. Your love that will champion and care for your children each day is awesome.
We live in a world so focused on the appearance of beauty that we forget true beauty lies within. That God does not see stretch marks and scars, but rather growth and unconditional love. He does not see a body that has failed to meet a standard, but rather a vessel that is able to carry and bear life. What He sees is pure and abounding love.
And that, dear friends, is more beautiful than a stretch mark-free belly ever could be. That is awesome.