My life has many different storylines.  Some that have ended, many yet to begin and others that are playing out right now.

Storylines of love, laughter and strength...of fear, loss and pain.  Storylines that intertwine and storylines that stand alone.  My life has many different storylines; real, truthful and heartfelt.

So when little bean asked me, "mama, what are all those lines across your face?"  I didn't have to think of an answer.  My response came easily, a tale simply waiting to be told; "These lines?  These are my storylines..."

Do you see this line between my eyebrows?  This is a worry line.  This line tells the story of the day I started cramping, early on in pregnancy.  This line speaks of the fear, the absolute terror, of never holding in my arms the one soul I have always known in my heart.  This storyline, with its immobilising dread, stands steadfast on my face; yet now I see it as a reminder of my blessings.  I see the first early scan and your pounding heartbeat.  I see you as a little bean, and I smile as this storyline led to your name.  This line is my storyline of relief.

And this line, right across my forehead; this is my storyline of self-doubt.  This line etches itself deeper whenever my tears well up and my mind races.  This is the line that stretches and grows in parallel with my exhaustion; the line that deepens as my heart sinks in times of despair.  But when I look at this line, this prominent and unmoving line, I can now see hope.  As I allow myself to pause and to breathe, I realise that this line is a reminder that I too, am human.  This line is a reminder that it is ok to be vulnerable and real.  And with that knowledge, I can start to allow myself to believe that I am still enough.

And what about these lines that smile next to my eyes and mouth?  These are my storylines of joy.  These are the moments that make me wonder how on earth I came to be so lucky as to be able to call you my daughter.

But these lines, these forever lines, they do not stop at my face.

My breasts have their own storylines of pregnancy and breastfeeding.  They speak of your steady growth and of our struggles with engorgement and latch.  They are unique and intricate and permanent.  They are my stripes of immense pride and perseverance.

And let's not forget about my belly; That Belly.   Its storylines of pregnancy and childbirth once roared, fierce and strong.  Now they are softer, but forever indented.  They are my most treasured storylines, because they speak of you, little one.  Of your growth, your hiccups and your love of stretching...  They speak of you, little one.  Of your chilled-out, 10-month gestation and your rolls of baby squidge.  They tell the story of our family's beginning.  They counted from 2 to 3 and watched as our world changed forever.  I am thankful to these lines, which miraculously managed to spread in the shape of a flower around my navel.  I love what they stand for.  I love who they stand for...and I love what they make me; real, alive and Mama.

These aren't just my story lines, little bean, they are ours to share and hold onto forever.

"Storylines, mama, I LOVE stories!"

"Me too, baby girl.  Me too."

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