I am a 34 year old mum of three. I've always had a dodgy vein in my lower right leg, which I was self-conscious about. It didn't bulge, it was just "there". A wiggly blue line all the way down my shin.
Before my daughter was born in 2004 I was one of those girls who could eat what they wanted without gaining weight. I was a slim size 12 (bordering on a 10 in some things). I smoked (about 10-15 cigarettes a day), I drank socially, and, as you can tell from my twitter feed, I love cooking and baking.
When I fell pregnant in late 2003, I was VERY lucky - because my body obviously "knew" and I detested the smell and taste of cigarettes. I did a pregnancy test, which was positive, and I never touched a cigarette from that day on (9 years in October).
However bad cigarettes are for you, they do something for your metabolism, so I'm told. So, quitting, combined with a craving for sweet things, I was on a hiding to nothing. I gained rather a lot of weight whilst pregnant, and despite breastfeeding, it did not shift once Meg was born. In fact, I put more on. And although I lost a fair amount by the time I fell pregnant again, the damage appears to have been done.
I have a bulge above my right knee. It is big and it is blue. It disfigures my leg and I have bulges from the top of my inner thigh down to my knee. A third pregnancy has not been kind to it, and now my left leg is starting to follow suit. I have a bulge near my ankle, although it is not blue, I can tell what's there, and I am getting little bulges up the back of that leg too.
These varicose veins are hot, they throb and ache. I can't wear shorts or skirts with confidence, and a trip to the swimming baths is one I dread. I've looked into surgery, nowadays the NHS doesn't do anything about varicose veins, no matter how much they hurt, so I would have to pay to go privately. At the present time, the options I've seen are both scary (for someone scared of general anaesthetic or spinal anaesthesia) and expensive, and the people I have spoken to - such as my sister in law, who had hers operated on last year, have had problems - my sister in law's for example have returned.
Generally, I am happy with my body; I have co-created three whole humans, and my body has cocooned them and nourished them. My boobs aren't as perky as they were, but they have fed three children. I have delivered them naturally, one a 10lb whopper!
I have had two third degree tears, a second degree tear, a Bartholin's cyst which abscessed, and a tummy which will never be as flat and smooth as it once was. But it is my veins which impact my body image the most. I am hoping that as I try to tone up my legs they will lessen, but I am trying not to let them dictate anything other than the length of my skirts.
About Love Mum-Body
On story of mum, we’re sharing photos of how our bodies have changed since we became mums and grandmums. You can photograph your actual body, or you can shape your body in plasticine. We don’t mind how you share it, as long as you do your very best to love it.
For some more inspiration, check out the guest posts we’ve had so far:
Reminders of my Motherhood journey: Hannah Brooker @cupcakemumma11