*Edit: surgery performed by Dr. Andrea Van Pelt at Partners in Plastic Surgery. Cannot recommend her and her team enough!*
I'm sitting in my recliner (just far enough back
but not too far) with a bag of frozen chicken behind my back and a drain coming out of each of my sides. Being pregnant with twins was the most amazing experience of my life, but my body was never going to be the same. I think it's incredible that women view their postpartum bodies in different ways: proud tiger stripes and grooves and crevices and miles of places etched on their skin. Just look at all of the places we have been together, sweet baby. Just look at all of the places we have yet to go. I see these things on my own body also, yes. And I am thankful for the way my body had the ability to stretch and curve and break wide open to welcome my two miracle boys earth side. Every day, I will remain thankful for what my body was able to do to grow and birth two humans at once. A couple of years later, I experienced the miracle again, as if it were the first time. I must have watched the video of my exhausted self pushing out my daughter no less than 798 times. My God, I did this. My God, my body did this. I experienced a cesarean delivery with my twins and a vaginal delivery with my daughter, and would lie awake each night for months replaying every last detail because I never wanted to lose even a strand of the memories. Some nights I still find myself falling asleep to the process of my children transitioning from within to without.
Time has passed and motherhood has been thrilling and daunting and exhilarating and exhausting. I have laughed and cried and screamed and collapsed. I have felt proud and guilty, capable and like a failure. Years of therapy have taught me to find myself with grace, somewhere in the middle, and to notice that I am doing my best. My hard moments aren't all bad and my triumphant moments aren't all good. I am simply putting one foot in front of the other as I love these three small humans who call me "mommy" with a love so fierce it's a wonder the flame never fades. There are days when I feel that I have nothing left to give--nothing left to offer these three darlings. They are on my last damn nerve and if I'm asked to put my fingerprint on the iPad to buy one more "Robux," I just might throw it out the window. But it's all the same. The love for my children doesn't discriminate against me when I'm broken down and weary and faded to a flimsy paper doll version of myself. Instead, the flame stays so high that it could heat an entire mountain. I may be rolling my eyes at the latest annoyance, but my love for them is so great it could fill an ocean.
So where am I going with all of this? I am crazy grateful for what my body has been able to do to bring the loves of my life into existence. I respect every woman who wears her postpartum stretches and lines with a mighty, fierce pride. That is badass as hell and I bow down to them. But for me, my body has done the most incredible thing I could have ever asked of it. As someone who spent years suffering from self-harm, anorexia, bulimia, and multiple traumas to her body, motherhood through pregnancy was the most healing experience. Motherhood through pregnancy was grace. My body wasn't cut, starved, emptied, or raped. My body was growing a human. My body grew three humans. All of the hard places I have come from became stitched back together as if by my own grandmother's hands embroidering her perfect writing in and out and in and out. Her writing might say how my body is a temple. And my body might finally believe it.
But here's the thing. While I am thankful and speechless that my body did these things, I was not comfortable with the protruding and painful diastasis (or abdominal separation). I was not comfortable with the way my stomach constantly protruded on my slim figure. I got tired of answering, "No, I'm not pregnant." Bless you, body, for making these babies and growing them well. But I am done growing babies and am ready to feel confident in my own skin again. No abdominal separation, no protruding gut, no loose skin just hanging out trying to figure out where to live.
I underwent a tummy tuck (or abdominoplasty) on Monday. I have been laying low since then but cannot stop staring (and smiling) at my after picture. I don't have to hide behind baggy clothes anymore. I can wear bikinis again. I can wear cute little belly shirts if I want to. The self-care concept is a little bit new to me, considering the places I have come from. But I view this surgery as self-care. I did it for myself. I did it because I have worked hard and I wanted to do something for me. I thought it was important to write about because I feel like many women have plastic surgery but are too ashamed to tell anyone about it. Why the shame, right? If it makes you happy and if it makes you feel more comfortable in your own skin, then go for it!
For all of you badass mamas- my wish is that you all will come to feel confident in your own skins, no matter how that looks. Whether you wake up and look in the mirror and thank your stretch marks for the important job they did, or look in the mirror at a post op body that has smoothed out the wear and tear, I see you both. As long as we are loving ourselves and our babies well, and treating ourselves and our babies well, there is no right or wrong way to do this. So kudos to the tiger stripes and the tummy tucks. Kudos to the boob jobs and the sagging boobs. Our bodies have grown humans. Let's love them afterwards- whether just as they are or with a little work. We don't ever have to judge each other for the choices we make regarding our bodies. We can just smile or hug or high five and say, "I see you."