Catherine Gracey

Living Life, One Misadventure At A Time.

Tiger Stripes or Leopard Spots?

on November 20, 2013

The language surrounding pregnancy is powerful; it has the ability to make or break a woman’s self-esteem and body image. Words can build confidence, and words can take it away again.

Before I became pregnant, a friend posted a graphic that said mothers were tigers who earned their stripes, with a picture of a heavily lined, post-baby belly. I loved the empowerment in that concept, that “unsightly stretch marks” were really badges of courage and strength. Renaming the lines tiger stripes instead of stretch marks robbed this change of its damage, and converted it into a similar type of beauty that some people find in tattoos.

During this pregnancy my partner has probably become rather bored of being asked if he can see any stretch marks yet. Finally, in week 38, the first subtle marks appeared. He wasn’t certain, and so I needed to wait until someone else could check them for me for confirmation. Confirmation was provided that I had some, but not many.

Some is enough.

All marks are on the underside of my belly. Shroomi is so big that I can’t see below my navel. Knowing that I had finally earned my stripes, and being unable to see them, was an exercise in frustration. What colour were they? How long were they? Which direction did they run in? Were they clustered or evenly spread? Did they form any cool patterns?

I finally managed to work out a way to balance high enough on my puffy toes to check out my belly in the bathroom mirror. Since I am now over 90kg and my centre of gravity likes squirming wildly, this might not have been the best strategic move on my part. Despite that, I managed to get a good look at my belly.

My dream of tiger stripes as a badge of maternal strength immediately vanished. There were no lavish lines streaking my belly. Instead I had smaller, broad spots. A tiger? Oh no, not this belly. I am clearly a leopard.

I am a leopard, who can change her spots. Take that, animal kingdom.

Perhaps I will get the stripes as well, and turn into a leopard-tiger hybrid. Perhaps I will keep my spots just as they are for this pregnancy, and add to them with the next. Perhaps spots will continue appearing until Shroomi decides to join us on the outside. Regardless of what happens, I can’t wait to see how they look once my belly has returned to a babyless state.

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