This month we’re flipping the script for May dedicating each of our digital Spaces in different ways to celebrate one of the most influential beings on the planet… Moms.
In a season of unveiling, each week Octane founder Danielle Meadows Stinnet shares different perspectives across her own motherhood journey.
I need you to see my belly
I need you to see my skin
I need you see me put it out when others want to suck/tuck it in.
I need you to see me fearless
I need you to see me raw
I need you to see me not trying to be something at all
And at the end of the day
When the makeup is gone
Remember how I wore my scars
My Skin Journey
Say it with me now: Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. It’s so real. PCOS is one of the most common causes of female infertility, affecting 6% to 12% (as many as 5 million) of US women of reproductive age. But it’s a lot more than that. This lifelong health condition continues far beyond the child-bearing years.
Say this one with me now: Hidradenitis suppurativa (hi-drad-uh-NIE-tis sup-yoo-ruh-TIE-vuh — otherwise known as HS) is a chronic skin condition that develops skin lesions as a result of inflammation and infected sweat glands. Also a big pain in my rear end (among other places.)
These two have been my skin journey for over 10 years. While one gets better the other decides to pitch a fit. This ebb and flow of “girl wash your face” and “girl you really need to see a dermatologist” feel auto piloted at certain times in my life.
Over the years I know the internal psychological damage that was interconnected from the ‘curious shame’ others wanted me to feel just like the lesions deep within my skin.
I think my oldest was around 7-8 years old when he finally asked me: “Mom what is that all over your back? Does it come off?” Short answer: no…. it doesn’t entirely come off. “Mommy’s skin is kinda sick.”
And for years that was my response, “My skin is sick.”
At that time I knew that I was dealing with an auto immune inflammatory illness but, in the early years, right after my first born I had no clue what I was dealing with (medicating with temporary topical creams) until I met a dermatologist who offered a formal diagnosis after a few tests.
The doctor had to write the name down on a post-it because I couldn’t comprehend the name. I did years of personal research and ‘youtubing’. Lifestlyle and eating habit changes. Some gave immediate relief but over time came back after long term consistency. Some of my early seasons of motherhood was living in band-aids, covering my scars + breastfeeding.
I felt the least desired ever.
Several years ago I saw the first of many ‘BS about HS’ campaigns roll out and the universe gave me hope that I wasn’t entirely alone beyond the anonymous Facebook groups.
I wanted my skin to feel unsick but I realized how much of myself was dependent on what was “medically better” instead of supplementing my worry of ‘outside eyes’ with being spiritually better… holistically better.
My attitude changed. I changed my friends. I changed my perspective on what defines beauty.
And thats when the narrative changed. Sorta.
More Babies, More Problems
A decade went by. I got married.
Once my husband and I began our journey to add more children, it got interesting.
At one point my conditions were practically attacking my pregnancy. I lost more than two potential infants that could have been my sons and eventually got as far as 20 weeks with my only daughter Ella … and my body just gave out. I ate the right things. I prayed all the right words. Yet I still left the hospital… empty handed.
“Why me” I remember asking myself in the early years in repulsion and anger.
Cool tip: I used be a harlot in my earlier life. That’s right, mama as HOT ENOUGH back in the day.
I kept replaying my life in areas where I knew I was lusting in life, thinking “I deserved this”.
I’ve matured much since then but my headspace at that time was: I was walking around as “damaged goods”.
Imagine the weight of what I just said. It was a cross I bared gravely for a long time that seeped into how I loved myself, my family and life. Doubt is mental destroyer.
Then the miracle of Baby Theo came. Mentally there was NO expectation because he was such a surprise. We didn’t know we were officially pregnant until he was seen on ultrasound at 21 weeks. I was so shook that he was thriving for nearly 5 months that we didn’t tell our kids for another month after that…. and that was by accident over ice cream. (I’ll save that for another post.)
Stretch marks was the least of my concerns. In carrying baby Theo I battled gestational diabetes, extreme hypertension, skin rashes and heavy cystic acne all from my body reacting to my baby growing within. I surely don’t miss taking all the insulin shots for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Theo was born 2 weeks from full term, in complete health and in full weight of 8lbs (he was my heaviest baby) from a cesarean birth. All my births have been cesarean but one.
In experiencing all of this my mindset went from, “don’t see me” from “I want to share my story with you”. My scars celebrate what makes me special.
What my scars are teaching my kids
I’m a “boy mom” so I’m not sure how much that revolving door swings back for some.
My kids have seen my whole body. Prolly not on purpose. But they’ve seen it.
They see my scars. They tell me when I have “openings”. Sometimes they help me bandage myself.
They also see their Dad love me with actions and words.
They see the love between partners with reciprocated feelings and bound loyalty and devotion.
They also know that Theo didn’t get here from that stork.
I think my scars help teach my kids to not judge people on appearances.
For my older teenagers, that beauty is the soul of a person and not just the physical attributes of a person (knowing physical attraction is important just not as priority).
I think that it teaches my young ones the strength of good relationships and how to trust someone with parts of yourself that you feel are difficult.
Love is verb.
Overall I want them to see that I’m not bound by the eyes and reflections of others. That being different in this way allows me to share my truth, my journey and my light that is well beyond skin deep.
I celebrate the journey in the skin I’m in. And I pass that onto my children to live and celebrate the same.