I have never been into the “earth mother” aesthetic. Do not buy me a fertility goddess statue with mammoth breasts and the planet earth painted onto its belly. Because both times I was pregnant that is exactly what I looked like.

My first pregnancy occurred long before the body positive Mombod craze. Life would have been so much easier if those pics, or this viral beauty, were around back when I was butterballing it through my first pregnancy. I think the What to Expect book was still recommending “20” as the ideal number of pounds to acquire. I remember a male friend remarking on my weight gain: “I don’t get why you would gain more than the baby weighs.”

Really, dude? Let me break it down for you.

I know it’s complicated, but here’s a rundown of the stuff that competes for space inside women while they’re pregnant:

  • A placenta (i.e. the biological version of a kitchen, grocery store and vitamin bar)
  • A robust, grabby fetus (who constantly expands)
  • Enough liquid (all of it necessary) to fill a small swimming pool
  • Several feet of thickish umbilical cord

All that in addition to our regular organs and whatnot.

I actually felt bad for showing. I happen to be a tall, short person (almost 5’4” in kitten heels) who started her pregnancy wearing a 36C and ended it as a 40 Double Z or whatever. People assumed I was carrying twins at month six. Strangers actually pointed and laughed when I ventured wobbled to the grocery store a few days before launch date.

As you can imagine, I am not one of those svelte women whose womb rests easily within her ribcage—allowing her to not even show until late in month seven.

No. My womb is hellbent on protruding. I was basically showing at conception. And you know what? That shouldn’t be a bad thing. That shouldn’t be a failure or an aberration. It means you’re healthy and so is your baby. Your baby is not into famine. Your baby doesn’t think you’re fat. Your baby wants your womb roomy and your boobs epic (which they will be).

That should be the kind of stuff we celebrate—which is why I’m so in love with Mombodies and their images.

Maybe the ancient cave people had it right when they gave their little talismans boobacious racks and tummies filled with quints. I wish they would have carved a little post-pregnancy Mombod statue. (Now this I want! Shut up and take my money, Etsy scupltors!) The breasts still rock but it’s got a sagging belly and I want little stretch marks carved into it. The men will take it into battle to absorb its strength.

Ten days after my first due date came and went I looked in the mirror, screamed and basically died. Overnight, my stomach and hips were covered in cherry pink stretch marks, veining out as if my entire torso had fractured. As if a congregation of lightning bolts decided to stamp me in magenta.

I wish I would have known then that these marks would fade and mostly go away. I wish I would have known that I would shrink back to my original size, yes breasts too, no worse for the wear. Except for my belly. Like the toughest Mombods, I still bear my stamp. There are a legion of now pale striations covering my slack belly. I thought I was the only one until women were brave enough to post photos.

The Mombod movement kinda changed my life. I used to think my stomach was something to hide and hate. Not anymore. (And no, you’re not getting a picture.) Now I know I’m marked with everything awesome and warrior-like about being a mom, about carrying, in my case, two hearty males. Like other moms, I’m built of the stuff the War Gods want to harvest and steal. But they can’t have it. We’re too damn strong. Thanks Mombods. I’m proud to look just like you.

Molly Pennington

I’m a writer, a mentor, a speaker, a wife and a mother, and a lover of insight and whimsy. My default setting is perpetual cheer, but I don’t shy away from the wounds of the world. To me, nothing is more vital than social justice and I believe that perception and compassion are curative. I’m here to make the world a little less mean. Instead: smarter, brighter, better. You can find out more about me at www.mollypennington.com.

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