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.
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.