It spans across my lower belly: a thin line of translucent white, fringed with red, curving slightly upward on either end. It stretches and contracts with the gentle rise and fall of my breathing, widening like a smile.
And I can’t help smiling back.
Because when I look at this scar, I don’t see a flaw.
I see perfection. I see a portal to another world: a place filled with love, life, security—a nourishing utopia, where you formed your perfect little nose, your perfect little cheeks, the perfect little wrinkle between your eyebrows, all ten perfect little fingers, and all ten perfect little toes.
I don’t see deformity.
I see beauty. I see a tattoo that extends all the way to my heart and connects it to yours. I see your soul, your vibrancy, your life—carved into me.
I don’t see the mark of someone who had it “easy,” someone who “didn’t really give birth.” I don’t see inferiority.
I see a literal birthmark. I see the spot where they slit me open while I cried and prayed, hoping that I would hold your tiny living body in my arms when it was over, yearning to feel the warm touch of your skin against mine and the familiar rhythm of your heartbeat against my chest, sensations that I’d grown to know so well internally. I see the mark of quintessential motherhood.
I don’t see weakness.
I see strength. I see the jagged edge of love and fear, protruding from my skin like braille. It says life. It says perseverance. It says you and me—we’ll be together at the end of all this—whatever it takes.
I don’t see failure.
I see triumph. I see a battle scar, marking the ground where we fought—together—when you decided to come 10 weeks early. I see will and determination. I see victory.
I don’t see the cold cut of surgery.
I see the tender swell of life. I see a landmark, a historic site where you breathed your first breath, cried your first cry, opened your eyes to the outside world for the first time. I see the precise latitudinal line of where you went from simply living to being alive. I am forever marked by your coordinates.
I don’t see regret, or the disappointment of having a nontraditional birth. I don’t feel disconnect.
I see a property line, extending to my heart, where you first staked a claim, and where you continue to rule today. I feel the memory of the gentle tug as they lifted you from my body—your grasp on my heart never wavering— and the familiar pull on my heartstrings whenever I picture your fragile, red little body rising to meet me. I remember the warmth of your cheek against my lips, and I feel the unique, undeniable magnetism of a mother’s love. I feel connection.
I don’t see detachment.
I see intimacy. I see a doorway, housing the first chapter of your life, locking in the memory of every kick, every hiccup, every flutter of your tiny, miraculous heart. I see devotion. I see it etched in my skin like a signature on a contract, a promise of love and responsibility. A promise of motherhood.
So I will not be ashamed. I will not be made to feel inadequate. I will not feel insecure or embarrassed.
I will not drape a towel or wrap over my bikini line at the beach. I will not turn away from the mirror when I step out of the shower. I will not cover the mended flesh that brought so much beauty into this world.
I will not mask my pride.
I will not be told that I “had it easy,” or that I “didn’t do any of the work.”
I will not feel weak. I will not feel like less of a woman. I will not feel like less of a mother.
I will not allow the loose, slightly puckered skin surrounding this scar to make me feel ugly. Because it is beautiful, and I am beautiful, and you are beautiful.
I will not feel marred, or “butchered,” or broken.
Because I am whole, and it is this scar that has made me so. It is a poignant paradox, a line marking the spot where I was both ripped apart and put back together; and when I look at it, I will remember the day when you were both taken from and given to me.
And I will be grateful.
Because this scar made me a mom.