My kids are absolutely worth every aspect of the body mutilation that took place to incubate, nourish and deliver them into this world. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. But for the majority of moms, our bodies pay a hefty price. To live with it or not to live with it. That was the question for me.
Could I have maybe hit the gym more, not gained those extra pounds and lathered up the skin in Vitamin E while knocked up? Sure. Would these things have prevented my abdominal muscles from going from a tight corset to a Buddha belly?
You see, shortly after my third, and final, kid was born, I set a long-term goal for myself to get healthy and fit. I achieved many goals and they were hard-earned. Dead lifting over 200 pounds, climbing a rope, running a mile under seven minutes, increasing my borderline low thyroid levels and becoming the healthiest I had been since college to name a few.
However, after three years of high intensity cardio, weight training and healthy eating (most of the time) I sadly hit a wall of defeat last spring. As I stood in front of the bathroom mirror, with solid muscle all over my body but the massacred mid section, I was forced to accept reality.
I had truly done everything that I could do naturally to fix something that I abhorred about my appearance and I knew could give me problems later in life. Three pregnancies and three c-sections tanked the tummy. It was quite depressing. I had failed at something that I should have been able to achieve. Or so I thought.
Why? The dreaded diagnosis of a severe Diastasis Recti.
By definition, Diastasis Recti, is a physical condition, that occurs, when the right and the left halves of the rectus abdominals, split apart, for whatever reason.
Some women have a very mild separation of these muscles, of 2 finger widths or less, while others can suffer, 3, 4, or even as large as a 5-10 finger separation. One finger width is considered, average or “Normal.” Some women are fortunate and sport a six-pack after several pregnancies. I, unfortunately, ended up on the far right end of the scale with a 4-5 inch muscle separation that involved not only the outer muscles, but the deeper muscle layers as well. Upon physical evaluation, a hernia was diagnosed also.
How do you determine if you have a Diastasis Recti? The easiest way is to perform a self check by feeling above your naval while doing a mini crunch. Google it. Super easy.
This separation of the rectus abdominis muscle can cause an array of problems. Without the stabilization that the abdominal muscles normally provide, weakness in the abdominal wall can jeopardize trunk stability and mobility, contribute to back pain, compromise posture, pelvic floor dysfunctions, hernia and cosmetic defects. Back and/or pelvic pains are the most common manifestation of a Diastasis Recti.
To further add to my frustration, I read so many sites that claimed that this muscle separation could be fixed naturally with therapy. That obviously isn’t always the case. So, after attempting to rectify the problem through diet, exercise, special exercises and physical therapy, as I was staring into the bathroom mirror in defeat, I had one last option.
How do you fix a severe Diastatic Recti that remains unresponsive to all the above? Abdominoplasty.
Yep…plastic surgery. That’s the only way to fix a severe muscle separation.
Does insurance cover it? Nope. Well, it USED to be covered or at least partially covered with a hernia. However, as we all know about insurance companies, they will shut a good thing down if it isn’t cost-effective for the powers that be.
Does it hurt? Yes. An abdominoplasty is considered to be one of, or in some opinions, the worst cosmetic procedure as far as pain is considered.
How do you decide which doctor? You certainly do your research, read reviews, ask around, engage in frank conversation with those you know that have had the specific procedure performed, meet with all surgeons and choose the one that has impeccable attention to detail, unwavering commitment to safety and ease of quick post operative follow-up access. This isn’t a “do over” type of surgery. It’s imperative to get it right the first time.
After years of trying to fix it and failing, I decided that I couldn’t live with it. So, two weeks ago, I underwent abdominoplasty.
Am I advocating plastic surgery? Heck no. There are risks anytime you go under the knife.
Was my main reason to undergoing the surgery health or cosmetic? Let’s be real here. COSMETIC 70%. I already had some back and abdominal discomfort going on and wanted to avoid future complications also. It’s best to undergo this type of surgery while you are younger versus older for obvious reasons.
Am I glad that I did it? YES. It isn’t without sacrifice and discomfort. My experience, so far, has been a success.
As having children and becoming parents tend to crush those “Never ever will I” statements we proclaimed beforehand in ignorance, I plead the fifth on this one. However, so far, it’s been a good choice for my circumstances.
So, there you go. No complications and on the mend to a full recovery. The baby daddy was a God send, as well as special friends and family that were our lifeline the first post operative week.
I’ve had a few friends ask me to chronicle the journey. I may. But you won’t be getting any playboy before and after shots from me! It’s too personal. I mean, I share enough of my life on social media anyway.
Our bodies after babies are something us women come to terms with in our way and in our own time. Women should empathize and support one another more than we do. There’s much more commonality in our struggles than I think we realize.
In the grand scheme of life, this looks small and insignificant but it can be a lot bigger to the person going through it. Best of luck to anyone reading this going through similar circumstances.