Musings of a Marfan Mom

Eye of the Tiger

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There are a few rites of passage in pregnancy: morning sickness, weight gain, cravings…and stretch marks. We dread stretch marks. Websites tout diets to prevent them, creams abound to stop or hide them, and celebrities brag about avoiding them (though we all know the ragmags are just airbrushing them out!).

Having Marfan syndrome means I’ve had stretch marks for as long as I can remember. The disorder causes them to appear in all sorts of weird places: my shoulder blades, hips, knees, shoulders, legs, lower back, etc. without normal reasons like excessive weight gain. When I got pregnant with the Menininho, I knew there’d be no preventing lots of stretch marks from taking over my body. My motto became “no one does stretch marks like a pregnant Marf!” I stand by this, by the way. I got my first purple streaks during my 5th week of pregnancy, before I’d even gained weight. By the time my son was born, I had marks 1/2” wide and so deep I’m surprised my skin didn’t rip open and expose the baby himself.

I was curious whether I’d get additional stretch marks with this pregnancy. I’ve made it all the way to week 28 before the first new one has appeared. You might think I’m bummed out about the prospect of additional claw marks, but I’m not. Here’s why.

I work with the teens at the National Marfan Foundation and stretch marks come up in our conversations. One of the teens shared her philosophy with me shortly before this year’s conference. Stretch marks aren’t really stretch marks, she told me. “They’re tiger stripes, and that makes them awesome.” And if you think about it, it makes a lot of sense. Tigers are powerful, beautiful animals and their stripes are what sets them aside from other cats. They scream “I am strong.”

And we are! Those of us with Marfan, we are strong people to deal with the kind of hardships, both physical and emotional, that this illness tosses us. And can anyone doubt the strength of a pregnant woman? We grow another one of us for months, then birth it.

So, I’m not embarrassed or ashamed of my “tiger stripes.” Rather, they’re a permanent reminder that I’ve had the opportunity, the gift, to combine two great parts of me: Marfan & motherhood.

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16 Comments

  1. what a great outlook! Congrats to your teen friend for having such wonderful insights :)

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    marfmom Reply:

    I am so proud of all the teens I work with! They are amazing and teach me a ton :)

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  2. Lovely outlook! And your stripey bump is lookin’ awesome!

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  3. LOVE IT! You go, sister!

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  4. I love this!!! I’ve told you about my screening for Marfans before and my stretch marks in strange places was a reason for my concerns. Surprisingly enough, I DIDN’T get them during pregnancy! How weird is that?! Funny thing is, now, looking at your awesome pictures, I kinda wish I did!!

    Great post ma!!

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  5. I’ve heard a lot of people say that stretch marks are a sign of strength! Great post from you as always :)

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  6. I am Marf Woman HEAR ME ROAR!! You wear them well Maya!

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  7. I loved my stripes when they were vertical. Now I have a bunch of horizontal ones striking through my vertical ones. It’s weird and not as cool.

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  8. You are beautiful, inside and out. And even more so, you rock and are so powerful and strong!

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  9. This made me cry. You are awesome. And so is the teen girl you work with… I hope my soon-to-be-born little girl has half that strength and spirit.

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  10. Reading this article made me so happy I cried. it is so gratifying that the teenage girl had such positive body image and a great outlook on life. Both you and she are truly inspiring.

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  11. Great post, Maya! I will never look at stretch marks the same way again. Scott actually has some from “excessive weight gain” growing up, and I see them as a badge of honor now that he’s lost the weight and kept it off for nearly a decade. Love the idea of tiger stripes for a preggo. :)

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  12. No thank you… *gag*

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    marfmom Reply:

    What a pleasant person you are!

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