Going to the grand opening of New Fantasyland brought a new outlook on life, but not in the way you might think. It helped me make a decision on what to do with my two umbilical hernias and abdominal separation. I’m having surgery to fix them all.
I debated for awhile on whether I should share this post. Once it is out there, it is out there, you know. But I decided to go ahead and do it because I hope there is one other woman I can help realize that her postpartum condition is rare. Sometimes, your case is extreme enough that, despite friends telling you their stories or a professional telling you to just exercise more, it is not going to work because you are dealing with something different.
It was my appearance at the New Fantasyland Ribbon Cutting and the Celebration show that did me in. You see, I stood for 2.5 hours. Just stood. Nothing else. Sore feet to be expected. Something that I could easily handle before this last pregnancy. Heck, I’ve run 7 marathons and have run for over 4 hours on my feet. Yet, after the show, as I started walking to find my family, I was doubled over in pain.
Without core support, the muscles that I called upon to, in essence, help me stand, were taxed. Not my feet or my back, as you would expect, but my stomach and abs (or the lack of the latter) were spasming. I had to sit out on several rides with my kids. It was then I realized I didn’t want to miss out on any other life moments, when I didn’t need to. This was the last straw. This was fixable, and I needed to fix it.
For those that follow this blog, you know I learned of this last fall. From then, until the time of the New Fantasyland opening, I began to train using running and other exercises to strengthen my core. Others had success in reducing the severity of their Diastasis Recti, and I was determined to try. Yet, a five mile run would leave me unable to exercise for a week because of the strain in put on my torso. Doing twenty Diastasis Recti focused core exercises would leave me vomiting because of the pressure on my un-protected internal organs. (Side note – do not do traditional abdominal exercises if you have Diastasis Recti. There are specialty ones to use.) My 15 years of health care experience working with nurses and doctors, and my certification as an aerobic instructor, gave me a perspective that only was confirmed when I went to New Fantasyland. This was not going to work because it was not the problem I had.
When I went to my pre-operation appointment, I once again shocked a new group of nurses and staff. I guess the severity of it is such that you don’t see to many of me. While the technical term for my surgery is an abdominoplasty (a tummy tuck), the reality, for my case, is that it is more abdominal reconstructive surgery. I don’t have a “Mom pooch”, or “the jowls of pregnancy”. I only wish I had the issue this anonymous woman in the picture has. It would make things a lot simpler. Instead, I have a five month pregnancy-like belly as a result of my internal organs protruding from my core.
At the surgery, they are not removing fat to flatten out my stomach. What they are going to do is take each layer of tissue and muscle and stitch them together, one by one, with tape, glue and mesh, and repair the holes too. Then, after a year of having my belly protruding from my core, once my innards are no longer outards, they will see if they need to remove any excess skin (the tummy tuck part.) So I am seeing a general surgeon who is also a plastic surgeon. I’m having abdominal reconstructive surgery with a tummy tuck possibility at the end. It’s kind of like when you have a C-Section and you wish they could do a tummy tuck too.
The interesting thing to note, is they are concerned that the layers of my torso are so battered that they may not be able to give me my belly button back. To do so would weaken the area again and it is too much of a risk with my kind of case. I could be the belly button-less blogger, but I’ll keep that a secret.
As you can see from the various pictures, I didn’t have the rock hard abs of my pre-pregnancy self after I had my first son, but I had a flat-ish stomach. I did what I could with diet and exercise and was content with what I had. I could fit into jeans, though maybe a size bigger. I could wear my t-shirts, though I started to look for more flattering styles for my new body type. Yet, this time around, I’m not in a bigger pant size. I am still in maternity clothes. I’m not looking for flattering tops, I am looking for maternity tunics. I don’t sigh at my inability to wear a two-piece bathing suit. I sigh because I cannot play with my kids in certain ways or be in pain for days. My decision truly is based on the goal to make my lifestyle better, and I don’t mean looking good in skinny jeans (even the maternity kind.) It is the ability to lift objects, the ability to stand in a long line at the Magic Kingdom, and the ability to lift my son in the air or pick up my baby from the crib. Ok, and yes, the opportunity to stop having to shop in the maternity section!
It is easy to judge, but you could only understand what I face, and what the doctors see, if you saw me naked. (Sorry for that image but alias, it is true.) Maybe the pictures here show some of the story. I can only hope that the surgery is successful, in that I wake up from it and have a quick recovery of my umbilical hernia and diastasis recti. It is a risk I decided to take though, because the risks are 1%, but the inability to do a lot of things these past six months? 100%.
Friends, I am scared. But…it is time to put me back together again. Here’s more of the story…
Have you ever had surgery? Or a plastic surgery procedure? What were your fears? Were you happy you did it?