I Had Plastic Surgery and Maybe You Should, Too.
Eleven days ago, I had a reconstructive abdominoplasty to fix a gigantic diastasis recti problem that was the result of my second pregnancy.
I have no qualms in talking about it or being open in regards to the situation. There are many women who might go through this process and then say that they bounced back naturally because they don’t want to admit that they are not super-moms with the stunning natural physique and resorted to plastic surgery.
My first kid was 9 pounds and 4 ounces and 22.5 inches long. I was 38 when the doctor delivered him from my body. Other than the recovery from the incision and such, my body was back to normal within eight months. Not eight days, not eight weeks. Eight Months.
Through some weird circumstances, I ended up living with family during that first year+ of my son’s life. I was helping around the yard, helping with meals, preparing and fixing, but I was not allowed to help with housework. There was a system and I wasn’t to interfere but if I could keep the messes to a minimum, that would be great. I was in a new town and felt that since this was a temporary situation, I wasn’t going to seek out new friendships but instead went to the recreation center up the street two or three days a week. My son could stay in the child play area for 2 hours, max. In those two hours, I would swim some laps then hit the weight room. I had a small portable DVD player and the P90X DVDs. I’d set up out of the way and did the routines.
By the time my son was eight months old, I was 127 pounds, which was two more than when I got pregnant and down from 159 lbs at delivery. I was back into all of my pre-pregnancy clothes. This took work. Lots of work. My auntie, with whom I was staying, did most of the cooking and like a good house-guest, I ate what she made with no questions, even though some of that would not have been in my workout diet plan.
My second baby was six years later. I was then 44 years old and right around 42 is when my warranty expired. There was a shift and it was almost immediate. Still a size 4 (36–26–36) and 127 pounds at 42, something happened and the weight that I couldn’t control came and wouldn’t leave. After realizing that it had to be hormonal I talked with my hubs about adding one more baby before it was way too late. We worked at that, too, including one round of Clomid.
After my daughter was born, my body did not bounce back the way it did previously. My situation was totally different. Before, I just worked my online job and worked out. Now, I had a house of my own, a husband, a 6 year old boy, animals, a business, etc… I was also older and my body was different.
Even after 6 months of wearing the girdle and watching my diet and trying to exercise as much as I could, nothing budged. Mentally, I kinda gave up. I also felt like I was letting down my husband. I wasn’t happy with my body post-baby #2 and I was working on it but nothing was happening.
I ended up at the doc’s for a checkup on the wee one, and our doc is our general practitioner as well as a pediatrician, and I asked her about it. She had me up on the table and poked about and then said, “Yup. Diastasis recti. A big one.” She told me what that meant and what I could do try to fix it at home.
Apparently, crunches were the worst thing ever for this problem. I switched to some different exercises and nope, didn’t help. Couple this with lordosis and my problem was only going to get worse. Lordosis is an inward curve of the lower back, which is normal but mine was leaning towards extreme. Before, I had strong abs which helped with this. Now, I didn’t. I’ve got a curve that’s pushing my guts forward against an abdominal wall that’s weak and has a big rip in it, holding it altogether by a thin sheath of tendon.
In the six years since my daughter has been born and up to 11 days ago, I would be asked when I was due at least twice a month. Funny story: We’re waiting for the ferry to take us to Ocracoke Island. I’m walking around looking at the pictures and old maps in the office area, holding my six month old on my hip. The woman at the counter comments on the baby’s cuteness and then says, “Boy, you sure are gonna have your hands full when that next one comes.” I processed this and then said, “I’m not pregnant” and in true southern style she said, “Oh, Lord. I’ve put my foot in my mouth, haven’t I?” but it was true, I looked 7 months pregnant all the time.
It wasn’t fat. I’d put on a few pounds, sure, but this was all in the front, very distinctly protruding forward, you could still see the side ridge of my ab muscles. From the back, I didn’t look pregnant or overweight but from the side and front, I did. I was holding steady at 153lbs.
I dealt with this for years. Every month, some comment about my new baby coming, the worst coming from the dad of my mechanic. I’m at their shop and he saunters in and sees me. “How many kids you got now? Every time I see you, you’re pregnant.” Ouch. I started to cry. That day I called the doc and she said to call reconstructive plastic surgery but that it would be difficult for insurance to cover it. I said I didn’t care. I had to fix it because everything I was doing wasn’t working.
I went in to the consultation and he said, “Yup. Diastasis recti, a big one,” Just like my doc had said. He told me the gory details of what he would do and I said, “Great. Great,” waving it all away. “ Let’s do this.” Fast forward to March 11th. I’m in the hospital for outpatient abdominoplasty. I’m scared. This is the most intense surgery or procedure I’ve ever had. Not even my deliveries were this intense and with those, I stayed in the hospital for a few days.
My surgery was the last of the day, 3:15pm. I was out by around quarter to seven and home by 9pm. The only problem with this is that I had a prescription for Oxycontin that I couldn’t get filled until the next day. That was a rough night.
Those first two days were filled with these thoughts: ”What have I done to myself? Why the fuck could I not have been okay with my body? Why didn’t exercise fix this? Holy fucking hell. Who the fuck gets addicted to plastic surgery? This is brutal. I shouldn’t have done this. I should have stopped it.”
By post-op hour 78, things leveled out. I got the pain under control, my husband had me on a strict pill regimen. The kids were gentle and helpful. The dog was protective and my favorite kitty was by my side.
I was scared of the first post-surgery shower. What would I look like? Yeah, that’s a sight. My body obviously didn’t look the same, it had changed drastically and what I was seeing, even with the 28" long incision, the drain tubes and blood bags, the swelling and bruising was a body that no longer looked perpetually 7 months pregnant.
Physically, this would help with the low back pain, the gut problems including constipation, the core weakness because now I could exercise my abs appropriately (to come, not now).
Mentally, I won’t have to hide in my clothes. I won’t have to be asked when I am due every other week, I may fit into something that isn’t stretchy. Maybe I’ll feel sexy again and won’t worry about how I look all the time, sucking it in and hoping no one notices.
Our healthcare system seems to focus all on the baby when a woman delivers. Our culture shows us pictures of celebrities that are perfect one week after delivery. (I think they take those pictures early in their pregnancy and then pass those off as “one week post-partum! AMAZE!” to keep us thinking they are superhuman.) There isn’t much focus on the woman after she has had a baby. It’s about the baby and how happy she must be to be a mom and all that rainbow and unicorn bullshit. Being a mom is hard and being a woman whose life has just done a 180 degree turn is hard, add to that a new body that you don’t recognize, post-preggo issues you never had, (pee while sneezing, anyone?) and the side effects of all of that physically.
Insurance should cover some measure of reconstruction if a woman’s body has taken a horrible toll after delivery. The woman needs to feel confident in herself in order to be an attentive mother. I’m all for plastic surgery to fix what the pregnancy damaged.