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- I’m sorry. It was me. I just didn’t know.
I think I became aware of my tummy pooch when I was about 5 years old.
It has been the one body part I have hated and fixated upon my entire life. I remember being a teenager and thinking, I can’t wait until I get pregnant and I have an excuse to have a big stomach.
I wasn’t really fat, but I’ve never been a girl that could wear a bikini. (Unless you count those Under-Roos I got when I was 5 that I thought were a bikini.) In my whole recollection, my stomach has never been flat, despite how much I might have dieted and done crunches and core exercises. I always fantasized about just cutting off that piece of flab that bothered me so.
Then I got pregnant. Three times. All three were delivered by C-section. And you know what happened? That pooch that I hated became stretched out and then started to sag over my C-section scar. Of course, it was decorated with a myriad of stretch marks as well.
I lost all of my baby weight, but every time I looked in the mirror naked, I couldn’t help but fixate on my sagging, scarred belly. I hated it even more.
While I was pregnant with my first, one of my cousins got a tummy tuck. I guess before she did that, I never seriously considered a tummy tuck. But she was one of my closest friends, a wonderful mother, and someone I would have never considered “plastic” or fake. Instead, I looked at her as an example, and began telling my husband that when we were done with kids, I was going to do the same.
I don’t think he took me seriously until I went in to get a plastic surgery consultation and came home with an estimate. I told my husband for years that I was saving money for this one big splurge. I’ve always been a frugal person, but darn it, I’m a working mother and I made sure that each child had a well funded college account, my retirement fund was very healthy, we had a good amount in our rainy day fund and I regularly donate to charity. Our only debt was our mortgage. It was time to spend some of my hard earned money on me. All $7,000 of it.
It was such a surreal experience to go in to that consultation, where the plastic surgeon took out a black Sharpie and drew all over my belly — just like you’ve seen on TV. “I can make this so that you can bounce a quarter off of it!” he exclaimed when he was done drawing.
Not only would he cut off most of my stretch marks and remove my C-section scar that had healed all bumpy and ugly, but he would also stitch up my abdomen wall, which had been separated (called diastasis) during my pregnancies.
“You’ll never need to do an abdominal exercise again,” my surgeon told me.
I asked where I could sign and how soon we could schedule the surgery.
I have to admit most of my fear around the surgery was the stories I had read on the internet about mothers dying during plastic surgery — articles that talked about how those children wouldn’t have mothers anymore because their mothers decided to get elective surgery.
I had selected a very reputable surgeon, and I knew that the statistics were in my favor. I pushed those fears out of my head.
When I called my mother to tell her my decision, she only had one question for me: “Can I come to take care of you and the kids while you recover?” She never once judged me, and her help after the surgery meant so much to me.
I won’t lie to you — those first few weeks after the surgery were extremely painful. That stitching of my abdominal wall meant that every time I would accidentally stimulate those muscles, it felt like being sliced by tiny knives. For several days, I walked hunched over like an old lady because five inches of flesh had been removed. My best friend came over to be my nursemaid while my husband was at work the day before my mother arrived, and she told me that she had thought about getting a tummy tuck, but seeing my condition right after the surgery changed her mind.
For a few weeks after surgery, you have these drains coming out of you. There is a plastic tube that is inside the stomach, and it comes out a hole in your lower hip (one on each side), and you have to drain them multiple times a day. Definitely not something for the faint of heart. But heck, after having babies, nothing could phase me!
I have three daughters. I never told them exactly the nature of the surgery. I simply told them the doctor needed to fix my tummy. I specifically wanted to get this procedure done before my daughters would be old enough to comprehend the purpose of the surgery. You see, I don’t want them growing up thinking that I HAD to fix my body in order to feel good about myself. I’m raising them in a way that I hope they won’t have body image issues, and I didn’t want my surgery to at all influence the way they feel about their bodies.
My daughters will sometimes comment on my scar — it is a scar that goes from hip to hip, curving down towards my pubis in almost a smile. They think that is “where the doctor cut the babies out of my tummy.” And that’s true — just not the whole truth. Maybe someday I’ll tell them, when they’re adults and if they confide in me that they’re considering a similar surgery. But not now. Not for a long time.
It has been a year since my surgery, and I can say that I am so happy that I did this for myself. My stomach is flat for the first that I can remember. My waist was “pulled in”, and my stretch mark scars are almost completely gone.
But you know what happens when I look at my nude body in the mirror now? First, I fixate on that scar. My husband calls it “a belt”. But I’m really OK with the scar. My eye then travels to other “problem areas”. You know what happens after a tummy tuck? When you gain weight, the fat goes to different places. For me, it started going to my rear end. I actually don’t hate fat on my rear end as much as I did on my tummy.
For a while, I started contemplating getting the other “problem areas” fixed, too, but I decided that no, I needed to be happy with this body and love it. It may not be perfect. It may be altered from its original post pregnancy state, but it’s mine. I love do it, and I also love that I don’t absolutely hate my stomach anymore. I actually love my stomach now. I still don’t feel comfortable wearing a bikini, but I just love the way I look in clothes now. I still have to watch what I eat and I exercise 5 days a week. I even do ab exercises even though the doctor said I wouldn’t need to. I still believe core strength is very important.
Some people may think I’m selfish to have done this. Some people may think I’m fake. I’m here to tell you it’s OK to do something for yourself once in a while, even if it is a splurge that you have to save for.
Shhh…. It’s our little secret! 😉