I am not the kind of woman who thinks about plastic surgery… Or at least I didn’t think I was. I have always liked the idea of letting nature take its course and growing old gracefully. Wrinkles are not something that I really worry about. I didn’t mind the stretch marks that appeared with my first pregnancy, I wore them like a badge of honor for getting to carry such a big baby around in my belly all those months. Then again with the twins, just another badge on my belt (literally). After the twins were born I quickly realized that something was not quite right with my abdominal muscles. I mean right after they were born… After delivery I went back in my room I wanted to go meet my girls for real, they were in the special care nursery. When I went to stand up and had absolutely no strength in my core. None. I had to lift my belly up with my hands for support, I could barely stand. The nurse ended up bring me a wheelchair and a support band for my belly. I used the chair to get around, back and forth to the special care nursery for the first day or so. This might be a common happening for mothers of twins or mothers of large babies or in subsequent pregnancies. I didn’t remember this experience from the first time. One thing was obvious, my abdominal muscles had separated and I had developed a condition called Diastasis Recti. I recently heard it described as a rubberband that has been stretched so far that it’s lost all elasticity, it will never go back to its original shape. At one point I could fit at least 6 fingers in between the muscles, which is a huge separation from what I understand. My doctor said, “just give it some time.”. I don’t know how often abdominal separation is addressed in post partum care. I don’t think my doctor has had a lot of experience with this. He was supportive but didn’t have a lot of helpful suggestions for my recovery. I tried some core strengthening exercises specific to healing the separation that I found on the internet. Six months, a year, and now nearly two years later the issue has improved, but is still there, and significant. I am having back pain and shoulder pain… both of which are made worse by having three kiddos to be picking up all the time. I also know that I have bad posture, my back muscles are working harder because my core is so weak. I’m using my body in an inefficient way because things are not mechanically working the way they should. On top of all that, wearing clothes, any clothes, is an issue. The wrong kind of shirt makes me look like I’m five months pregnant. I am constantly feeling self conscious about my body. I can’t just “suck it in”. I have tried wearing shapeware, but it only smooths things out… but I still look pregnant! And who wants to wear those tight confining garments in the summer heat?! After much deliberation I decided to let my doctor know that I felt ready to explore the option of getting it repaired. He felt that by this time it was obvious that I was a good candidate and referred me to a plastic surgen.
The first step was going in for a consult. The plastic surgery office felt more like a spa… probably because half of it was. Everyone that worked there had obviously had “work done”, they were all pulled and tightened. It was actually kind of disturbing. I had to keep reminding my self that first of all, I’m not here because of vanity. Second, that I am just here to inquire and just get more information. It was not even an option unless my insurance was going to cover the procedure and this was the first step to finding that out. So, here I go, in to see a doctor who is here to nit-pick and analyze my body -everyones worst nightmare, right? I felt embarrassed. Especially when he suggested a little lipo here and there. Ugh. Just keep reminding myself that I’m only doing this if the insurance sees that it is medically necessary and I’m not adding in any extras. They gave me a quote after the appointment that reaffirmed that this was only happening if it was going to be covered. They said it would be a few weeks before I heard back from insurance.
Kind of anti-climatic. No decisions made. The doctor did think it was an appropriate surgery for me. He told me that typically anything more than a 3cm separation usually will not heal completely on its own. One thing I have to be sure of is that I am done having babies. Once I have the surgery if I was to get pregnant again it would destroy the repair and all the pain and recovery after the surgery would all be for nothing. So, that was a decision that I had to make, insurance would be making the decision to do it or not at all.
It’s weird to have someone tell you you need to decide if you are done having kids. I thought I was done. As soon as Hattie was delivered I looked over at Matt and said, “I’m never doing that again!”. But then when I had to decided, to know forsure that I was done, for real… that was another story. We discussed and weighed options. I never really loved the being pregnant part. I was always in pain and uncomfortable. It’s exahusting. Then taking care of a newborn again, sleeplessness, hormones going crazy, breastfeeding struggles… would we really want to go through all that again? Not really. But then having another little baby to love would be so wonderful. I had always wanted a big family. But I already have a big family and it’s prefect. Each and everyone of them is perfect and I can’t imagine asking for anything more. We both agreed upon that. I also know that I have my hands full at the moment and in light of this summer’s events I see that even more clearly.
Late one evening I recieved an email from my insurance… “Authorzation Approval”. What?! It was approved? After further inquiry I confirmed that it was. Wow, I kind of wasn’t expecting that. The doctor had told me at the appointment that it’s very rare for insurance to deem this procedure as medically necessary and it does not get approved very often. A few days later the doctors office called to let me know they had been notified of the approval and that I could call to set an appointmet for the surgery. Well. Then the decisions had been made. I was doing it.
I called a while back and set the appointment. One month from today this mama is getting a new tummy. Merry Christmas to me. I’m actually nervous. To go under the knife for something that feels voluntary is weird. I’ve heard the pain is pretty awful, the recovery will be hard, and I will be out of commission for awhile. My mom will be here to help for a week, Matt is going to take time off work to help out, and I know the rest of my family is going to help too. I’m worried about weeks 3+ post-op. It’s hard enough to deal with three crazy toddlers on a normal day let alone when I’m not running at full capacity. I’m sure this will not be my last post on the subject. I just felt like I needed to put it out there.
Here is a visual to help you understand what’s happening…