Linea Nigra

June 20, 2018

By Sanda Rathamone


"Everything grows rounder and wider and weirder, and I sit here in the middle of it all and wonder who in the world you will turn out to be." - Carrie Fisher

Linea Nigra is a kind of "pregnancy line," and no, I am not talking about the lines on a pregnancy test. It is a pigmented line that some women have during pregnancy.

The name "Linea Nigra" means "black line," but it doesn't necessarily darken to a black line, but more of a light to darker shade of brown. This line runs from the belly button to the pubic bone, but during pregnancy, it can appear and grow as far as to the tops of the rib cage.

Actually, whether we know it or not, some of us already have this line, but it wasn't as noticeable. 

Hence, the other name for this line, "Linea Alba" or "white line."

The cause of linea nigra is unknown, but some say it may be because of the boost of pregnancy hormones, which then causes skin cells, called melanocytes to change the pigmentation of skin color. It may also be the reason why some or most women have a darkening of the areolas during pregnancy, which is also a very common pregnancy symptom. (Sources: AmericanPregnancy.org and MomLovesBest.com)

Some also say that after pregnancy, the line should "disappear," lighten, and/or fade away. 

Now, why am I writing about this and what does this have to do with stillbirth, you say? Well, it is because my linea nigra still hugs onto my skin, as if it has never left.

My line has not faded. 

Like many, I have never really noticed this line. I'm not even sure if I had it before, and if I did, then it was not as dark as it was when I was pregnant with Elijah, as well as today.

I first noticed the line when I was near the end of my first trimester. By my fifth month, the line was dark enough that I had noticed that it was definitely something that was not there before, or at the least it was a very noticeable change that my body was going through in pregnancy.

The line was darkening to my belly button and I worried that it would "move" even higher. 

I remember googling about linea nigra and even though I had read that it was a natural thing, I didn't like the way it looked. I didn't like it in the same way that I didn't like how all of a sudden, pregnancy had made me a hairy monster on my belly. Believe it or not, I had actually started shaving my belly because all of this hair had grown in places that didn't before.

Around my areolas even started growing hair (yes and no, this is and is not TMI), which of course is another natural, but somewhat gross pregnancy symptom.

If I had to choose between stretch marks and linea nigra, I would have chosen stretch marks (even though I would slather cocoa butter and cocoa butter oil on my belly twice a day and any other time I could remember and tried to prevent them, knowing damn well that stretch marks are genetic and my mom had lots of them when she was pregnant.)

But if lotion and oil did anything, then I did what I could. Even if it was stupid. 

I never had any stretch marks on my belly when I was pregnant with Elijah. Perhaps it was because the pregnancy ended abruptly at twenty weeks and I wasn't big enough to reach it that far to earn my "tiger stripes."

I somewhat wished I had stretch marks because then it would be some kind of "proof" that I was a mother? Am a mother?

I was always curious about stretch marks though. My mom would always show me hers and point at the one that I "gave" her. She would say, "this is what you did, right here," in a nice, but very honest tone. I always thought that they looked interesting and almost silvery and shiny, kind of like the way the water looks like when the sun is reflecting it on the sand. It looks like water movement... the water inside of her belly where five of us kids grew and swam around inside of her.

Unlike linea nigra, I couldn't find the beauty in the way I could in stretch marks.

A dark brown line was a dark brown line - nothing more. Or, so I thought. 

The one thing I didn't mention on the blog post about "misreading signs," when I thought I was around 4-5 weeks pregnant, my linea nigra became darker. (Read: "Misreading in the Waiting Womb")

I thought I was crazy, seeing things. But, I asked my husband about it and he said that he saw a difference in color as well.

After Elijah's stillbirth, the line faded under my belly button, but it stayed dark in color, starting from my pant line to the top of my pubic hair line. Ever since that missed miscarriage/whatever it was weeks ago, the line is much darker than it has been before.

Whatever happened to me before I had my recent period is a mystery, but a huge portion of my heart believes that I was pregnant, even for that very brief amount of time.

The line is about the width of half of my fingernail and as long as 2-2.5 inches long. To me, it's pretty thick, the thickness of a fat permanent marker, which then looks like I used it to draw a line from my pubic bone to my abdomen. My linea nigra has been on my mind in the past few weeks or so and it's funny how I could now find the beauty in it now, than when I was pregnant with Elijah.

I hope that this line stays on me forever, because it is the only thing on my body that marks a previous pregnancy. It is the mark that Elijah had left behind and the only thing on my body that I could remember him and how his pregnancy was such a miracle in my life.

My linea nigra is a line of hope, it is a phone line that connects me to him, to communicate with him, a line so thick, yet, so transparent, like a veil from the other side. I now greet this line everyday when I look into the bathroom mirror, as if to say, "Hello, Elijah. I miss you.”

Elijah speaks to me through this line and finally, I am able to embrace it.

With love,
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Photo: unsplash

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