A love letter, for me.

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My body and me have never really had much of a problem with one another. We have never had many quarrels, never really erred on the side of unhappiness in our relationship; my body has always been fairly good company.

She’s always been quite a forgiving one. Allowed me far too much chocolate without even a whisper of comeuppance, always let me wear whatever I desired. Hell, let’s be totally honest, she gave me that much coveted thigh gap, and a pretty nice behind too. I threw on clothes without second thought, looked in the mirror and thought, “me and you, body, we got a pretty good thing going on”.

But recently, things have changed. It’s been a year and a half of tumultuous times, and this relationship has soured. There have been spats and screaming matches, pleading on my side for her to just change. It’s been a slightly sad and limp affair, really.

It wasn’t pregnancy that started it, it was pregnancy that ended it. I spent nine months marvelling at my belly expanding, little flutters that become all elbows and knees, a planet that sent us spinning into new orbit. Breasts that grew and changed to accommodate. And inside me, can you even fathom, organs moving to make way for child. I grew a new organ to sustain that small big life. Even the size of my thighs went unnoticed, forgotten in the face of these incredible, marvellous things (but yes, also perhaps because I could no longer see them).

It was pregnancy’s end that, like many women I know, brought in a new era in our relationship. One of dissatisfaction and - I’ll admit it - disgust.

I could list those points of dissatisfaction for you right now, spell them out in detail, cast them around so we can all sit in agreement of which we are sometimes too painfully aware of. Motherhood does unrecognisable things to that which we have always known.

Yet, this is a love letter. I’m immortalising these words to this space in the same way one would write a letter to their future self, to squirrel and hide away for one to find at a time when they need to hear it most. There is no break up available to me in this scenario, I am shackled to this partnership until the end. So here, dear body of mine, are the reasons we should fall back in love and the reasons I love you so, even still.

There are little marks, deep ditches flooded with silver, where once I was unblemished. These are the spaces where skin made room, stretched to it’s utmost and still came back. There are cracks in me, patched with silver rather than the usual gold. A reminder of my elasticity.

My hair, that which I bemoan never looks nice, is always a little bit of a mess, uncut and unkempt. It’s curls and ringlets, piled atop of my head, are constrained by time or - rather - lack of it. Straighteners and brushes sit untouched because of small fingers pulling at my legs, small hands with a desire for a mother to come and play, and laugh, and hide, and… I bemoan my messy hair, but I always make the choice to play.

There is a small pouch, immovable because of a scar, a stomach that will never be as flat as it was once upon a time. A raised mound which contained everything necessary to sustain life, and one day may do again. There is a womb under there, which will now always be known as the once home of stardust - my child.

And that scar, an area of skin which may always be just a little numb, I am cut in halves. A place from which a human being burst forth screaming in the nick of time, the place from where I gave birth. Where kisses have been laid as my husband whispered that I am their mother-hero. A scar that will always be a precious reminder of gratitude for doctors and midwives, for life and for survival - mine and hers.

Breasts that are almost unrecognisable, vastly different to before, changed and grown and stretched. They are the embodiment of determination, teeth gritted and sleepless nights. They are love contained, activism, food, an ongoing source of comfort.

We’re going to change a little more, gain a few more marks, laughter lines and aches. There’s a tapestry etched into my skin, within my bones. Scars both visible and on places deep within me. There are things that I am both awed and horrified by, and things that have transformed that I had no idea could. This is the body of a twenty four year old mother. It’s an important title to bear, and I now have the uniform to match.

This is a quiet protest, my love letter to you, acceptance for that which changed you and I for the better. And yes, it wasn’t you, it was me.