Turning Stretch Marks into Second Chances ft Vanessa Spence

Hi, I’m Vanessa - writer, performer, lover of community, and most importantly, human being. I am working-mom, budding momtrepreneur, pretty awesome lover and full-time momma who sometimes thinks about giving it all up for a one-way trip around the world (if that’s even possible.) I started the Stretch Marks movement to create a space where mothers and mothers-to-be can find a connection between their motherhood and the person who they were before having a child. I use my theatre training and love for telling stories through verse and heightened prose to feed my passion for young Black women to encourage self-reflection and personal growth. Follow @vanessacspence on Instagram; Stretch Marks on Facebook, and log on to www.vanessacspence.com/stretch-marks to learn more about the Stretch Marks movement. 


Not a day goes by where I don’t think about my life before having a daughter. I think about all of the wine, beer, and whiskey I would consume on weekday afternoons, I think of my snatched waist and boobs that did not yet succumb to the laws of gravity, I think of sleep and waking up to the sound of an alarm rather than the sound of a child's hungry cry. I think of my freedom and how I took for granted the abundance of opportunities that were at my fingertips.

Since having Nova in July of 2018, I can only explain the journey of being a young Black mother to a young Black woman as a masterclass in loving myself. The first time I lay eyes on her fresh face was the first time I saw myself outside of my body. It was like looking in a mirror but completely different because I saw a clean slate - a willingness to grow and endure and hurt and love and be loved without the fear of judgment. 

When I had that out of body experience I completely understood why parents of the generations before mine unknowingly attached their personal goals onto the future of their children. They saw themselves and sought to use the opportunity as a second chance at accomplishing their goals and dreams. A second chance at life. Because I understand what it means to be a child of that generation and to carry the weight of my parents’ goals, I knew that the life I lived was not what I wanted to give to my child. So, instead of taking Nova’s first chance at life and using it for my own gain, I decided to take a second chance at life on myself. 

I entitled this journey of my second chance as Stretch Marks because that was the only physical proof I had of the mental, emotional and spiritual growth I endured throughout my pregnancy and beyond. They are there to remind me of what I am capable of and how much further I am able to stretch. And I can only hope that in telling my story and sharing my journey that every mother, parent, and parent-to-be can begin to see their Stretch Marks as a reclamation of their goals and dreams and to use them as their second chance at life. 

I’ve learned so much through this journey of motherhood and I’m only one year and two months in. Here are a few things I remind myself of every day to keep my journey smooth and fruitful.

Put Yourself First

This looks very different for everyone. Some prefer working their butts off for a month then stealing a weekend away for themselves and others prefer waiting until the very last minute to pick-up their child from the babysitter. For me, it’s going through Nova’s bedtime routine a bit earlier so I can sip my double shot of whiskey on ice a little slower. Putting yourself first does not have to mean neglecting the needs of your child. It’s about taking advantage of the time you have outside of making meals, changing diapers, and cleaning up to give yourself exactly what you need.

You Are Not Alone

As a society, we experience the same range of emotions and the same types of experiences but even in a room full of people, we can feel very alone. I shied away from telling my story because I feared judgment. I chose not to tap into the emotions that I was feeling forgetting that it is exactly those emotions that can create community. 

Find A Support System

Support is not what it used to be. Some don’t have the ability to look to their family or to a partner for financial or emotional support. It may take some work and some serious research but I believe that there is a community for everyone. There is an abundance of free programs for racialized mothers and mothers-to-be that need to be taken advantage of. And in those programs is where you will have the opportunity to find your tribe.


Stretch Marks is a book of poetry that captures the humanity of pregnancy and the oncoming of motherhood/parenthood. Through heightened prose, Vanessa Spence opens the conversation on motherhood/parenthood to include the taboo topics of generational trauma, regret, shame, depression, imposter syndrome, blame, and self-doubt.

The Stretch Marks official book launch will be held on Wednesday, October 30, 2019. There will be limited quantities for purchase so stay tuned for our pre-sale date announcement. 


  1. Great blog very interesting waiting on the pre-sale date announcement of the book The Stretch Marks I know it would be a good read.

  2. Thank you, Sharonette! It's been such a liberating experience to share my story with other moms and I can't wait for everyone to read my pregnancy in poetry. Feel free to join the Stretch Marks community using this link: https://www.vanessacspence.com/community. You'll be the first to know when the book is available for purchase and even get discounts! Thanks again for your kind words <3


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