My body before my daughter was less than what I would consider perfect. I got a huge stomach when I was pregnant with her, yet somehow I managed to only get stretchmarks on my inner thighs and near my navel piercing. Does it make me less of a mom because I don't have stretchmarks all over my stomach? No. Does it make me any more of a woman? No.
Some women gain a lot of weight during pregnancy, some gain very little, some lose weight. When I was pregnant with my daughter, I had at least 5 people tell me that I looked good, followed by "I hope I lose weight like you when I get pregnant!" as if it was some sort of compliment. Hearing that made me feel awful. I felt bad for them, for their way of thinking, and I felt bad personally. I was TRYING to gain weight. I was on a special diet to make sure baby was getting enough nutrition. I was on strong ant-nausea medications to keep me from becoming dehydrated, malnourished, and ending up in the hospital (which had already happened once). If I could have gained weight normally, I would have. Eventually I did, but it took a lot of effort and working with a care team at the clinic I went to. Do I judge people for gaining weight steadily, or for losing weight? Absolutely not. Things happen, medical conditions occur, and as long as the mother and child are healthy and the doctor knows what's going on, nothing else matters, especially judgement from outsiders.
Did I have a c-section? No, I didn't. I don't have a scar on my abdomen from delivering my child. Does that mean I had the easy way out since I didn't have major surgery? Hell no. I had about 4 days of early labor, 36 hours of active labor, and an induction from hell. Does that mean I'm superior because I endured that? No. It makes me a mom who did what I had to do to have my child. Delivery method doesn't make someone stronger or better, and neither does a scar or lack thereof.
I came home from the hospital weighing what I did when I got pregnant. Sounds great, right? Well, I sure as hell wasn't squeezing into my skinny jeans. Hell, I still looked about 6 months pregnant! It took a long time for everything to go back to its normal position, and when my organs did, not all my skin reacted so kindly. So yeah, I can home with all the weight gone, but it took months for my organs to reorganize, and my skin is permanently stretched out. Am I jealous of the women who can fit into their size 3 jeans the day they leave the hospital? A little. Does it make them any better than me? No.
Once I was healed and feeling brave, I started working out, hoping to shrink my belly down a little more and tone up that extra skin. I did cardio, I did strength training, I did toning. I ate healthy portions of healthy foods. I tried diets, I tried pills, I tried keeping some foods out of the house. I busted my ass, around the same time as the "What's Your Excuse" picture was making its rounds. Despite so much effort, I didn't see a difference. Despite 6 months of doing everything "right", there were no changes. Then I saw that picture. That damn picture supposedly meant to inspire women. It made me feel like I was a failure. I WAS trying. I WAS working out. I WAS eating right. What was MY excuse? After talking to a doctor and a nutritionist, I found my "excuse". My body wants me at this weight. It's healthy for me, and it's OK, regardless of what some stranger thinks, some photo online, some judgement passed by someone who doesn't know how hard I worked.
Don't let anyone make you feel like a failure because of what your body did. Your body was the vessel that carried your child or children. It did what it had to do. If it got stretchmarks, loose skin, spider veins, so be it. If you have a scar on your stomach, your lady bits, or no scar at all, so be it. If your boobs shrank or sagged, if your hips got wider, if your metabolism changed, so be it. You did something amazing, whether or not your body has marks from it. Mommy marks or not, you are just as wonderful as anyone else. It doesn't make you superior, nor does it make anyone superior over you.
There's all sorts of talk about stopping the "mommy wars" about parenting, yet we perpetuate the conflict by comparing ourselves to other moms and tearing down their bodies while trying to make us feel better about ours. We need to stop this destruction of other moms self-esteem. You might be a tiger who earned her stripes, but that doesn't make the mom on the next park bench anything less because her stomach is mark free.
Embrace your mom body for what it is--yours. Stop comparing it to other, and enjoy the great things it did. You are you, regardless of how pregnancy changed your body; comparisons hurt you and tearing down other moms hurts them. As long as you are in good health and take care of your children, that's what matters, not your physical appearance.