Stretch Marks


photo by ilona sturm


The first bands of stretch marks lined my inner thighs and lower back, places exposed by my black and white striped bikini, the year my body blossomed into womanhood, smoothing, widening, and scarring.

While swimming at the river, surrounded by sparkly granite rock, I would crane my neck back and turn my hip to see if these first scars of womanhood were visible to anyone else. I sucked in my belly too not realizing at all that it was nearly flat — as tight, and, flat, and smooth as it  ever would ever be.


I didn’t bother putting any kind of wives-tale-advice lotions or creams on my belly when I was pregnant — no cocoa butter, no honey butter, no Mederma. My mom had stretch marks; my sister had stretch marks; I would have stretch marks too. The tattoo on my belly, once a water serpent, stretched to the size of a thunder lizard.

My breasts grew too, from a 34A to a 36B, to a 36C, and by the time I had the baby, I was a 36D. Within the first two months of giving birth, I went back to a C cup. For somebody who had in the past hardly ever wore a bra, I sure had collected a lot of them.


My son breastfed for two years; by the end of those two years, he would drain the left breast quickly and say, “mama, chicanana side,” referring to the tattoo over the right breast. I ignored people who said that children should be weaned before they could ask for it by name and those who said I held him too much. He loved chichi. He stared at my breasts, patted them, rested his head on them and soothed himself to sleep. While nursing, he’d gaze up at me with eyes so big and full of love that each time it was as if I had never recalled being loved that much before.


photo by ilona sturm


By the time I weaned us both, he was capable of reaching his dimpled hand into my shirt, under my bra, pulling out a breast and latching on. I’d let him do it; sometimes I didn’t even notice.  Now, my breasts are stretchy and elastic, and somehow larger than before, or perhaps just longer, and they are lined with stretch marks, scars of motherhood, the kind that you don’t hide, or complain about, or call a sacrifice. 

4 thoughts on “Stretch Marks

  1. Meghan Swanson

    I love the tone of this post, soft and tender, like the relationship you shared.

    1. michellecgonzales Post author

      Thanks, Meghan! It was fun to write and read as I did SAt night.

  2. Kate Dreyfus

    One handed seems to be working well for you! Nice post. For us hopeless anglos what does chicanano side mean?

    1. michellecgonzales Post author

      Hi Kate,

      When are you going to start blogging about food and your adventures in motherhood? I loved those pieces that you wrote in the kitchen last year. Chicanana side is a reference to the tattoo over my left breast; it says Chicana (meaning Mexican American woman — the proud kind). I told my son at some point what it said, and he would ask for it by name, ” chicanana side.”


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