I don't feel that my body has changed a huge amount since having children; I did an awful lot of swimming through both my pregnancies to keep fit, and I just used to feel really comfortable in water, and I didn't get any stretch marks, but after Ella died, I really wished I had some stretch marks, and that might sound strange, but I really longed for some kind of physical branding to prove that I had had her, and at the time I was feeling so distressed really and uncomfortable and alone when it came to being in public places; I felt I had no proof because suddenly I was pramless, childless, and seeing other women with babies I really wanted to say ...

I don't feel that my body has changed a huge amount since having children; I did an awful lot of swimming through both my pregnancies to keep fit, and I just used to feel really comfortable in water, and I didn't get any stretch marks, but after Ella died, I really wished I had some stretch marks, and that might sound strange, but I really longed for some kind of physical branding to prove that I had had her, and at the time I was feeling so distressed really and uncomfortable and alone when it came to being in public places; I felt I had no proof because suddenly I was pramless, childless, and seeing other women with babies I really wanted to say to them: 'Oh, I do know what that's like, I have been a mother, I have been there'; so I said to a friend that I wanted stretch marks and I also wanted women's ears to turn bright green or something when they'd had a baby, so there was this permanent proof, I wanted proof that I'd been a mother.

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Stretch Marks

My swims kept those scars at bay,
two thousand lengths it took, to form

my mapless globe. No trace she was here,
her travels around me refused to surface

as she dived between poles, lapped
that black belly ocean. Once born, meridian

of my achievements, she went off course. 
I followed her divergent route, but this was not

her geography. I have wished for them,
a record of her tracks, all snowed over, gone.

from Her Birth (Carcanet/Northern House, 2013), © Rebecca Gioss 2013, used by permission of the author and the publisher.

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