My Stomach & Me: Marks of a multiple mum

skitched-2169.jpgThis week, Emily waxes lyrical about the ravages of two pregnancies on her stomach with hilarious honesty…

Yet another celebrity mum is snapped stretching out on a beach in a skimpy bikini, three months after having a baby. I groan and push the offending magazine back into the rack, slinking out of the newsagent in despair. I try in vain to convince myself that she was never pregnant in the first place; she has in fact been walking around L.A. with a (tiny) cushion up her jumper for nine months, before whipping it out, placing an order with bolivianbabiesrus dot com and hiring a team of nannies to push bambino round the block.

It is a well-known fact that your odds of escaping the scars of pregnancy reduce with each child you produce. I sneer at mothers of singletons who proudly preen their taut tummies; well, of course you’re back in shape, you’ve only got ONE child, for God’s sake. ONE child is a piece of cake. ONE child gives you time to go to the gym, do star jumps in front of Cbeebies, and sit-ups with them sitting on your chest for extra ballast. You only have ONE plate of fish-fingers to polish off when they refuse to eat, and it is unlikely that the night-wakings of ONE child send you screaming for a sugar rush quite as often as your multiple mum friend.

Yesterday I sauntered across the bedroom to the shower. I screamed as I caught sight of a naked stranger in the mirror, and just stopped myself lunging for the ‘phone; “Emergency services, good morning, what’s your emergency?” “My body has been stolen and replaced with Mr Blobby’s”.

I had four children in sixteen months (admittedly in very economical batches of two) and whilst I love them all unequivocably I still grieve for my lost stomach. There have of course been many changes to my erstwhile slender self, but my lost tummy beats them all.

I can handle the deflated boobs that look like left-over balloons a week after the party. I can handle the fact that my vagina seems to have turned into a gynaelogical camel; retaining water from my bath for up to an hour before unceremoniously and uncontrollably releasing it onto a friend’s carpet. I can handle my swollen fingers, still too fat for my wedding ring a year after the birth, prompting fourth finger glances from interfering old biddies, and a third finger response from me. All these things I accept with alacrity as the trade-off for the undeniable gift of becoming a mother. But oh, my poor beleagured stomach… Stretchmarks weave across every inch, mapping out the London Underground in a silvery snail-trail. My baby bar-code.

If you scanned it, what would it read? “Stomach under siege”, “Too many pies”, “£4k for a tummy tuck”.   

Losing the baby weight – and more – has not improved the thin, wrinkly skin of my Sharpei-dog-stomach. Indeed it has worsened the situation; as I shrink, my skin crepes and puckers, sucked into my caverous belly-button like quick-sand disappearing down a sink-hole. I daren’t attempt a serious sit-up; when I ease myself upright in bed, my insides pop up to say hello, forcing their way through the pathetic resistence offered by my stomach muscles. There is nothing merely separated about my muscles; they never had the chance to recover between pregnancies, and now they don’t understand each other, bicker over the washing-up, and are threatening divorce. My children push me onto my back so they can dip their hands into the spongy play-doh of my stomach. I am the Pilsbury dough-Mummy.

So what can we multiple mums do about the ravages wreaked on our bodies by successive pregnancies? Short of surgery (and believe me, I’m saving for it), not a lot. High-waisted trousers hide a multitude of sins, but be prepared for the shuffle-truffle roll-down when you open the zip; it’s not a natural precurser to a romantic coupling. Perhaps the aversion factor is nature’s way of curbing the population explosion? I’m sure there are mothers of more than two children who are lucky enough to have escaped the worst of the battle-scars, but those of us who can’t rely on good genes can only fall back on good jeans. And I have a pair in every colour.

Emily Carlisle is a freelance writer living in the Cotswolds with her husband and three small children. You can read her take on extreme parenting at More Than Just a Mother.


  1. Very, very funny! I can identify with most of this and I’m only a mother of 1!

    • I nearly wet myself laughing reading this. Just before I got knocked up again, I’d started calling my tummy ‘Hooch’ as it reminded me of the saggy face of the dog from the Turner & Hooch movie with Tom Hanks! I have vowed that I will not neglect the exercise this time! Brilliant post!

  2. This is me! ruined, ruined tummy…my daughter looked at me in the bath and said, “oh, mummy, poor you!” people constantly ask me when no 4 is due…it isn’t, that is my huge wobbly tummy with overhanging cesarean scar and numb patch, yuck, yuck, yuck.

    I have a friend who had a tummy tuck, it looks fab but I am too scared and too skint to have one. I have to make do with wearing a high lycra content vest top at all times. My own internal lycra is shot to bits. Never mind how hot it makes me, I would never never risk exposing that bit of wrinkly, wobbly flesh in public. It never ceases to amaze me when I see muffin top mums wobbling down the street, have they no shame?

    • Stop Abby! My bladder can’t take any more laughing! The wibbly wobbly wonders always make me seize up in panic and wrap my cardigan or coat around me. There’s loving yourself and there’s been badly dressed and deluded!

  3. mama's got moxie says:

    you are one funny chick! great post!

  4. While you added humor to this, I feel your pain. I only have one and the stretch marks I have 2 1/2 years later are just ridiculous. The soft pillowy skin is just annoying and makes me so disgusted with myself.

  5. Waaaaaaaah at ‘gynaecological camel’, I nearly peed my pants. That made me wish I’d done my pelvic floor exercises, and I’m only a Mum of one (and another on the way) x

  6. Tze Ching says:

    This post made my day !!! Made me giggle out loud. Good to know I am not alone, next time my twins are prodding and kneading my play-doh tummy. :-)

  7. Tara@Sticky Fingers says:

    To be fair, I don’t actually mind what two pregnancies have done to my body – I call them my war wounds and show them with pride. OK, not actually ‘show’ them. I don’t go round with a crop top inviting everyone to come look at my stretch marks. But I do make sure those pesky kids know it’s their fault mummy’s tummy has more jiggle in it than their jelly dessert. Kidding kidding, I tell them this is how all women look . . .

  8. Emily you are hilarious. I aspire to have your way with words. The camel comment had me snorting so vigorously that I felt a threat of vaginal gushage and I’d only had a shower and that was over 12 hours ago! I saw a friend’s tummy tuck scar at book club last week (as you do – along with her new breasts) All were quite impressive and evoked awe from the rest of us. However she said the tummy tuck was the most awful procedure ever and she would never recommend having one to anyone else. So where does that leave the rest of us then?

  9. Home Office Mum says:

    Oh that was hilarious. I too have the puckered sharpei look going on. I’ve never consider plastic surgery before but I’m not approaching it with new open mindedness. And as for the camel comment – so absolutely spot on I snorted my coffee all over my laptop. What’s more – damn your eyes – I got so engrossed in reading this that I completely forgot about a cheese snackwich I’d put in the snackwiched for son 2’s school lunch using up the last two remaning pieces of bread. The result was a cheese explosion (which subsequently hardened all over the kitchen counter) and rock hard bread. Not sure what he’s going to eat now. Note to self: do not read blogs and attempt to make school lunch at the same time.

  10. Hilarious! I was just starting to think about sorting out my big flap of flab, only two and a half years after giving birth, when my body decided this was not a good idea and I should have another baby instead to see if it could fix the flap permanently. Ah well.


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