My Badge of Honor

My stomach is my badge of honor with all its bumps, scars and layers. It is a symbol of my strength, my resilience and my courage to get through some very difficult trials and tribulations, as well as the home that nurtured and grew my three beautiful and healthy children.
When I was 24 years old, I had a bowel resection for Crohn’s Disease.
Years later, I grew a beautiful life in there and was blessed with a precious and healthy baby boy through a natural delivery. When he was only 8 months old, I underwent another surgery for an advanced ectopic pregnancy. Next, another beautiful life grew in there and we were blessed with our precious daughter. Then almost two years ago, we were blessed with another healthy and beautiful baby boy who joined our family via c section. Four pregnancies in less than 3 years…And three major surgeries on my abdomen. A few months after the c section, I discovered that I have a hernia near my naval. It’s quite large. Hubby calls it “my peach”. The doctors want me to lose the pregnancy belly before doing surgery on the hernia.

I know I can easily pass for pregnant, but I’m not. I’ve seen some of you park mommies stare down at my belly and wonder. Women in recent weeks have made comments like” When are you due?” or “B’sha’a Tova”(all in the right time) or “You get a double portion of cake”. To those of you who have made comments, I have made a joke of it. I have laughed it off. And I know that you meant no harm. But I am strong, resilient and brave. Not every woman would be able to handle these types of comments with the grace and sense of humor that I have. Imagine I had had a bunch of miscarriages/still births and had no live babies at home. How would your comment affect me? Imagine I hadn’t told my family yet and you’re a stranger or an acquaintance that I see at the park with your kids on occasion. And then imagine that I’m not pregnant, but struggling to lose weight, be it post pregnancy weight or otherwise. To my friends who observe Torah law, this can be considered Ona’at Dvarim, causing pain with words. Truth is, you don’t need to be a Torah Jew to know when to keep your thoughts to yourself.

I happen to feel proud of my stomach, bumps and all. I tell my kids all the time that my stomach was their home for 9 months each and for that reason alone, it is beautiful.

About the Author
Cigal Gabay is a trained school counselor and a family therapist who's starting to see divorcees and their children in therapy. Her world's greatest passion is helping people heal and become their best selves.