Desiree Fortin, Ryan Fortin, and Charlize, Jax and Sawyer

Desiree Fortin welcomed her triplets in August 2015, but that hasn’t stopped strangers from congratulating the photographer on her baby bump 17 months after giving birth. “I brushed it off the first time, but when it happened again I felt self-conscious,” the mom of Charlize, Jax and Sawyer tells Us Weekly. “I remember even asking my sisters, ‘Do I look pregnant?’” Though the comments stung, they inspired a piece about postpartum bodies that every mother needs to read.

In a January 31 blog post, Fortin, who struggled to conceive for three years before finding success with IVF, refers to her scars as “hope wounds.” 

“Even though I may have a little extra pooch and lots of tiger stripes, I longed for wounds like these,” began the 30-year-old from Encinitas, California. “My hope wounds … are reminders of the excruciating pain and grief infertility caused my heart. They are pure beauty because they represent my miracles.”

Fortin recalled how one Perinatologist predicted that she would never be able to carry triplets. “I was too thin, too short — and it was my first pregnancy,” wrote Fortin. “However, my hope wounds prove her wrong. Not only did I deliver our babies one day past our goal date, but they were nearly 5 pounds each. My body did that!!! God did that!!! The fact that I get to experience this undeniable love with my three miracle angels is the greatest gift I have even been given. I see that when I see my hope wounds.”

To celebrate her “hope wounds” Fortin shared a series of photos that show her posing in a milk bath — her tummy on full display. “Behind every wrinkle and every tiger stripe is a story and a strong woman who brought life into this world,” Fortin tells Us. “Our postpartum bodies are such a huge part of who we are. We should be proud of them.”

Fortin is on Instagram and Facebook.

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