Thursday, 2 September 2010

The post-baby body - more than I bargained for

My body has undergone so many changes in the last six years. I guess it is too much to expect it to look young and fresh after all that it has weathered?

I got pregnant with Nugget in July 2004. He was born in April 2005 and was breastfed for 13 months, until May 2006. I got pregnant with Doo Dah in March 2006. He was born in December, 2006 and was breasfed for 15 months (March 2008). I lost a baby in February 2008 (10 weeks) and got pregnant with the twins in April 2008. They were born in December 2008 and I weaned them 3 weeks ago (19.5 months).

Six years of breastfeeding or pregnancy (sometimes both at the same time).

My body is still adjusting to being on its own again. No dependents. No parasites. Just me again.

I weigh the same now that I did when I first got pregnant. I am still the same height too, but otherwise my body is no longer recognisable to me. I have three distinct areas of my body that paint me as a mother. They give away my new life-role without me having to say a word.

Firstly, there is my Caesarian scar, just above the underpant line. It is barely noticable and sometimes I marvel at the fact that 4 human beings made their way into the world via what is essentially a very small incision. "The sun roof" as I call it when I joke that I was "too posh to push". Oh I tried to push all right, I just wasn't built right for a baby's head. I thank my stars that I had my babies in the 21st Century, in Australia. I may have died without modern medicine.

Then there is my stomach. It was previously my 'best bit'. I was the type who wore midriff tops (when it was fashionable) because I had a flat tummy with a six pack. I always had a big bum, but my tum was coverted by many. Not too many would be lining up for it now! It is hard to descibe just how awful it now is.

It is not just the "twin skin" that bothers me. What is it you may ask? "Twin skin" is the unofficial term for the saggy, droopy, stretch-marked skin which some twin-Mums find themselves faced with after the delivery. If you hear of any cure short of plastic surgery, let me know!! ;-) Not all twin-Mums get it of course, and I had hoped it wouldn't happen to me, but unfortunately, I do sport my own version of it. For me though, it is my umbilical hernia that causes me more grief.

My twins were both normal size babies when they were born (3.24kg and 3.365kg, or 7'1" and 7'4"). I was huge when I was carrying them and my stomach muscles separated down the middle. I had a bit of an abdominal separation after Doo Dah was born, but it was nothing in comparison to the chasm I had after the twins (more than 10cm wide). I had to wear a stretchy brace for about 8 weeks because I literally could not sit up without it on.

More than 20 months on, my stomach muscles still do not function properly and I have a gaping hole around my belly-button.

All of this means that my stomach sticks out a lot (especially if I have had a big meal). It is my new problem zone*.

My final 'Mummy' body part is my breasts. I was never a perky breasted arrangement, but I did have a 'fine rack' (as my husband put it). My cleavage was decent and I wasn't afraid to display my assets when I was out on the town. Nowadays, after all those years of breastfeeding, my breasts practically sag to my knees and resemble something out of a National Geographic magazine.

All of this does little for a girl's confidence.

On a good day, I wear this body, with all of its changes and flaws, as a badge of honour. Four beautiful, healthy children. It is worth it, right? I worked bloody hard for this body.

On a bad day, it makes me cry.

* I will be seeing a surgeon again in the new year to try to sort out my hernia/separation.


x0xJ said...

i think what needs to be realised by society is that the aftermath of something wonderful like procreating is how our bodies are made to look. Have saggy and wobbly bits is normal!
Now only to convince the rest of the world that...

Rebecca said...

I miss my flat tummy and I too suffer from the separation. It's horrible. My OB sewed the lower abs together during the c-section, but the upper part still sticks out every now and then (i.e. when I'm not violently sucking it in). My boobs still look pretty good, but that's only b/c I failed miserably at breastfeeding. We are we need a tune-up!

MMBB said...

Oh my, my body will never be the same. In my first pregnancy I got stretch marks everywhere boobs, stomach,bum, thighs, even the back of my knees; and each time I was pregnant I was so huge that everyone thought I was having at least twins.

My youngest is 1 1/2yo and I'm still 15kg heavier than my 'before babies' weight. At my heaviest I got up to 25-30kg heavier than my original weight!!

Kristy said...

Aww, I'm sorry you are feeling down about it. I'm sure you know that you are not alone. I, too, had a stomach as my best feature - little waist, flat tummy. I wore bikinis to show off that very area. It has never been the same since pregnancy. I'm working at it, but sometimes there is only so much you can do.

Maxabella said...

Oh Coo, don't worry about what you're body looks like. You're an amazing, intelligent, witty, fun-loving, awesome mother who takes excellent care of herself. Your body has functioned beautifully for your children and yourself. It's done you proud. Besides, you still look great in clothes!!

MandyE (Twin Trials and Triumphs) said...

I think this is a really accurate post. And I think you were very fair in saying our bodies are so beautiful for all they've given us, but it doesn't stop us from wishing they were a little more "physically" beautiful.

I am about 10 pounds below pre-pregnancy weight (as I had gained a few pounds with the IF treatments over the years)...the same weight as when I was in high school. I know I'm the healthiest I've ever been, with exercising and eating right. Overall, I feel really great about myself.

But I could certainly do without the twin skin (even though I'm sporting some pretty nice obliques), and my once "nearly A's" - never my strong suit - are basically concave. I don't think much about it, but it was pure torture shopping for a swimsuit this year!

There are days when I seriously consider cosmetic surgery (within the next five years), but then I feel selfish for considering elective surgery, as there are always risks.

At the end of the day, I don't get too caught up in my appearance...I just try to avoid the full-length mirror when I'm undressed. :)

Anonymous said...

I'm hearing you girlfriend! I think all we need to do is look after ourselves abit and we will again be comfy in our own skins - Probably not rockin' Size 8 bikini bodies, but none the less happy!

Oh, and well done on all that breastfeeding! Amazing! I am in awe!

Yvonne said...

I had a bad day not long ago and cried in the shower after I washed my mummy tummy. After having 3 kids and keeping a little weight after each one, I don't recognize myself anymore either. But after my little cry I wiped my tears and went and snuggled with my newest baby. They really are worth it, aren't they?

Kudos on breastfeeding! I haven't been able to make it past 10 months. 19.5 months with twins. Wow!

Tenille said...

As mums, our bodies do some wonderful things. We should be proud and wear our 'war wounds' with pride. It is difficult though, especially when faced with the Giselle Bundchen's of this world who present their freak-of-nature post-baby bodies as perfectly normal. She isn't. We are.

Frog, Goose and Bear said...

I have just come across your blog via the wonderful Maxabella and this post just about sums me up, apart from the extra child and having twins, but I have an umbilical hernia and diverification of the stomach muscles. I am a little over looking like I'm six months pregnant all of the time. But it really is all worth it! I tell myself that every time I look in the mirror!

mummabear1970 said...

what a beautiful & honest post! I have had 3 single pregnancies (all successful) & have a great big saggy baggy bit belly that looks like I carried a multiple pregnancy! My boobs can be held up with a great fitting bra but golly it's hard to find something to hold the tum in! I just figure I have earned this body - it was never perfect to start with but it is real. And that's what life's about! Being real.

Lucy said...

I cannot believe I missed this!

It is so amazing - the changes are so evident, despite the weight and height being the same.

I will be fascinated to see how you go when you look into the surgery options for your abdominal muscles.

Anonymous said...

I'm visiting via the Kid's Spot Top 50. I think this is your best post ever. So raw, honest and beautiful. Wow.

foxinflats said...

Hi, came across this post via 50 Top Bloggers. OMG I so hear you. My 'mummy tummy' is a spanx covered shocker. I did a survey with 150 women for my blog and 65% claimed to be unhappy with their bodies, and 53% said their 'mummy tummy' was their least favourite body part.
You are not alone. We are all in this together. Best we can do is be kind to ourselves, and each other...and share tips on how to feel better about ourselves too. x Andrea, she of the spanx

Cathy said...

I love this post - I feel the same way! I've had 3 boys, all naturally delivered without drugs (not my choice, they were just super quick)! I tore etc and I have an umbilical hernia as well (after my 2nd pregnancy). I'm short and well, my body never went back to its original shape (perhaps my I have a passion for food not matched by a passion for exercise)! Most days I think to myself, this body gave birth to 3 beautiful boys...this is the way it is. But on bad days, well I feel yuck. Didn't help on an emotional day a couple of weeks ago when I was out shopping and a stranger asked when my bub was last was born 1 and a half years ago!

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