A completely normal part of pregnancy: stretch marks. Experts have previously told SELF that almost every pregnant woman gets stretch marks—but as common as they are, they can make some new moms feel self-conscious. Abagail Wedlake is trying to change that.
The artist, who lives in South Carolina, posted a pic on Instagram this week that shows her holding her beautiful 15-week-old daughter. Wedlake shows her stomach in the photo, and in the caption she shared an ode to her stretch marks. Part of her ode quotes a poem called “Birthmarks” by Cassie Fox, and it’s gorgeous.
“A mark for every breath you took, every blink, every sleepy yawn,” she writes. “One for every time you sucked your thumb and slept in perfect darkness. One for every dream you dreamt.”
To Wedlake, her “tiger stripes” are something to celebrate: They’re a reminder of how she brought her daughter into this world. “It was your home and where I grew to love you,” she writes. “I’ve earned my stripes and am embracing them more and more every day.”
It’s a beautiful message, and one that’s resonating with lots of other moms. Wedlake’s photo has more than 14,000 likes, and fellow moms have commented thanking Wedlake for her honest photo and words. “Beautiful—I always say my daughter painted a beautiful picture of her life in my womb,” wrote one commenter. “I need to think the same way like you with my stretch marks,” wrote another.
Wedlake followed up her viral photo with another close-up of her stomach, explaining her goal with the pics: “Let us make pregnancy an occasion when we appreciate our female bodies during and after, not hide them,” she writes. Amen, Wedlake!
Check out her photos below.
Watch: How Practicing Yoga Helped Jessamyn Stanley Love Her Body