Jenny Reimold, Mommy Mayhem
This isn’t the first article to be written about embracing your body after childbirth and it won’t be the last…accepting the way your body may look or feel after child birth is a struggle that many moms face. Sure, we’re all proud of what our bodies accomplished in growing and birthing our children; that doesn’t make trying on bathing suits any easier!
I’ve been pregnant ten times. I’ve delivered five babies by C-section, one naturally and a stillborn daughter after 26 hours of labor. I have also had three additional miscarriages. The C-sections left more scars as I had allergic reactions that burned my skin a little more after each incision. My body has gained and lost nearly 250 pounds collectively, I’ve nursed each baby for a minimum of one year and I’m now nursing our adopted son. I felt like I held it together pretty well until the beginning of this year when I felt things change. The scar tissue from my incision seemed to tear from the abdominal wall which left me with a mom pooch that I could now feel when I was driving. When I would go to my barre classes and do planks, I could look down my shirt to see skin hanging around my belly button. When I rolled over on my side, I could feel a little something extra hanging. Upright, I looked okay but it any other position, I was reminded of the after effects of childbirth. To make things just a tad more uncomfortable, I’m married to a younger man, a professional athlete whose abs have their own Twitter account. Really. After one particularly bad moment in the mirror, I made an appointment with a plastic surgeon. I hoped he could somehow just do some minimal laser work and just zap that scar tissue right off or there was some alternative to a full blown tummy tuck. After I stood there in all of my naked glory, with the doctor grabbing and twisting my stomach, he said to his nurse, “She has the belly of a woman who has delivered seven kids. She needs a full tummy tuck.” I questioned if I was that bad. I immediately started defending my baby pooch as if it were my own child. I explained that I took barre classes, did a lot of core work, worked out regularly and tried to eat fairly well. I left the office somewhat disappointed in knowing that a major surgery was my only option.
I immediately called my friends who had tummy tucks for various important reasons. Some raved about their results while others were only mildly satisfied. I also learned that the recovery from a tummy tuck is pretty rough and that it involves drains and little movement for six weeks. I continued to hear the doctor’s words echo in my head, “She has the belly of a woman who delivered seven kids” over and over again….and then a light bulb went off, “I HAVE THE BELLY OF A WOMAN WHO HAS DELIVERED SEVEN KIDS!” I’m not SUPPOSED to have the taught, tight stomach of my teenage daughter or of the 25-year-old fitness girl without children that I follow on Instagram. I’m a 40-year-old mother of seven; not only is my stomach not quite what it used to be, either are the lines around my eyes, the dimples in my thighs or the quality of my hair. It’s called AGING. I’ve always admired my mother and grandmother for aging gracefully without surgeries. I can’t remember a time where I even thought about the quality of my mother’s abdominal skin but I do know that she was at every dance recital, academic assembly and made sure we got to church on Sunday. So while I’ve abandoned the idea of a tummy tuck, I still remain committed to my fitness routine because that’s what makes me feel best about my body. Accepting my baby pooch isn’t an excuse to eat poorly or stop exercising, it is understanding that bodies change as we age, they change after children. It is SUPPOSED to happen to you. Bending over in a bathing suit requires a bit more strategy now but I know that my body is doing exactly what it is supposed to do after birthing so many children. I’ve decided to cut my body some slack because I know that ten years from now, I’ll long for the belly I have now. I can’t recapture what I once was but I’m determined to work graciously with what I have now!