I should have known I’d jinx myself.
A few evenings ago we went round to my sister’s place. She and her flatmate were admiring my lovely, smooth, basketball-shaped belly, as I proudly pointed out my lack of stretch marks. I even wisely imparted my “skinny person” theory, which is that only thin people get stretch marks; those who are already a bit curvy are used to having their skin stretch so can accommodate a baby bump much more aesthetically. I also shared my foolproof moisturising regime. They were all ears.
Literally that night, we were preparing for the evening ritual of slathering body butter over my bump, when Mr Cath got a funny look on his face: “Er… I hate to say this, but that looks like a stretch mark.” What?! No way. I strained to see what he was talking about but couldn’t see anything – it was too low down. He persuaded me to stay in bed rather than leap up for a mirror by suggesting it might have been the creases in my top that had caused it. I tried to forget.
But first thing the next morning, I immediately made my way to our full-length mirror and there they were: not just one stretch mark, but a cluster! All located on my lower tummy area, below the belly button. I briefly felt foolish about the night before, then realised that I must have not pulled my trousers down far enough – there’s no chance my sister would have seen them and not said something! What are sisters for? (“your face is round”; “you bulge out at the sides”; “you’ve got Walmart feet” etc).
If I’d given birth at 36 or even 37 weeks I would have escaped stretch marks entirely, as they appeared a day after the 37-week point. I really felt like I was nearly there, on the home stretch so to speak. That’s one thing Elly got away with! Oh, the perils of late pregnancy…
At least I’m in good company. The NHS informs me that stretch marks can affect up to 80% of pregnant women, and apparently “you are more likely to get stretch marks if your weight gain is more than average in pregnancy.” Oh dear, although seeing as the midwives have never weighed me I’m not going to worry about that now! The marks start as a lovely purple colour and will eventually fade to silvery white, although they don’t disappear completely. It remains to be seen whether I will wear a bikini again! Annoyingly, I bought a fabulous new one about a month before I got pregnant. It still has the tags on as I haven’t been anywhere hot since… that was not good planning on my part. Although it WAS on sale.
I’m quite cynical about creams that claim they prevent stretch marks, especially the expensive ones. The NHS agrees that it hasn’t been proven that any products actually work, although it might be the act of massaging the area that is actually effective. I moved on from Palmer’s regular cocoa butter to the thick, wax-like tummy butter in the mornings, and in the evenings use Sanctuary mum to be bump butter. If nothing else, it’s very pleasant massaging cream into my tummy (or even better, having it massaged in) and feels kind of like bonding with the baby. So I don’t feel like all those hours have been wasted quite yet!
Oh and once I invent a theory I faithfully stand by it, which means that despite my case of obese feet I can’t be THAT fat!