So, after 6 years of being unhappy with my post...
So, after 6 years of being unhappy with my post pregnancy belly, I have finally taken the leap and booked in for a tummy tuck with muscle repair.
I'm 5'4" and currently weigh 126lb. I didn't put on an unhealthy amount of weight with my two pregnancies (probably about 35lb), but I was all bump and felt huge. My belly didn't go back to normal after my first, but then I got pregnant again a year later, and after pregnancy number two, coupled with a c-section delivery, it was clear there was no going back to 'normal'.
I knew for sure that I had diastasis recti, as I could literally feel the big gap between the muscles (by lying down flat on my back with my head lifted up). I also have wrinkly, baggy excess skin below my belly button, which hangs over the scar from my c-section. Ugh, I hate even just writing it down...
Part of me wishes I was the type of woman who embraces her post-baby body as part of the process, and a small price to pay for the gift of my wonderful children and all that, but I just can't do it. One of the great positives in getting a bit older is that I accept myself for who I am, and what I look like, and I have a generally positive feeling about my body, but this horrible belly doesn't even feel like it belongs to me! And I know that no matter what healthy eating and exercise I do, it can't magic that extra skin away, or put those muscles back together again.
About 4 years ago I got my weight down to 114lb, which is a couple of pounds under what I weighed as a teenager, but the ugly skin was obviously still there, and I suppose I didn't sustain that weight as it wasn't worth the effort involved to still end up with an ugly belly.
Apart from being scared, the main reason I haven't pursued this earlier is that I couldn't see how it was possible to look after very small children during the recovery from such a procedure. That is definitely still my main concern now, even though they are 8 and 6. My husband works long hours, and my girls are such "mummy's girls", I don't know how they're all going to get on while I'm out of action. My husband has assured me we'll manage though, and he's very supportive of me going ahead.
Anyway, once I'd decided to go ahead it all seems to be happening very quickly, which is what I wanted. I had my first consultation about 3 weeks ago, and my surgery is booked in for 26 May, which is about 3 weeks away. Bring it on!
Losing the last few pounds
I self-referred to my consultant - I chose based on knowing the hospital, and specifically her based on her amazing qualifications and experience. I now have to do the step before and get a referral letter from my GP. I asked for a female doctor - my appointment is tomorrow. I'll be glad to get it over and done with - the fewer people I have to "confess" to the better. I'm hoping it will just be a formality.
Right now I'm stressing more about losing a few pounds before the surgery. I want to be at 122lb maximum, although I have to admit it's been quite a few months since I was there. I've been so good with my diet and exercise these past two or three weeks, and I had come down from 130lb to 126lb, but this morning I'm up to 128lb again. It's so disheartening when I've put in so much effort.
On the one hand, I want to concentrate on being my strongest and healthiest to give me the best chance of a good recovery. On the other hand, I want to be my slimmest so that I get the best result, and don't end up with baggy skin again if I lose weight afterwards, so I've been skipping the odd meal and doing the odd fast day, which may not be the best way to stay strong.
I'm not a million miles away from my ideal weight, so I guess I just need to focus on eating healthily, and try not to get upset by the figure on the scales every morning - it's so hard though!
Last minutes jitters
So, it's the night before my surgery, and the nerves are finally getting to me. I was on holiday in Las Vegas last week for a few days, which really took my mind off it, but there's no denying it's about to happen now.
I've been pretty calm up to this point, but now I'm starting to have doubts. Am I doing the right thing? Will I have complications? Will I survive?? What kind of result can I hope for? Will it be worth it? How bad will the pain be and how will I cope with it?
I think it has helped to post my "before" pictures. I know a lot of people compliment me on my figure and would think I was mad for doing something so drastic as this, but they don't see me with my clothes (and often my shapewear!) off. I look at these pictures and I see there is an actual problem with my body. Damage that has been done, that I have a right to want to fix.
I want to be able to undress in front of my husband, instead of furiously kicking him out of the room if he walks in by accident. I want to be able to wear a swimming costume when I'm on holiday with my kids, without looking like I have another one on the way. I want to be able to wear jeans that fit properly, without having the discomfort of tucking my belly in, and the embarrassment when it spills its way over the top again, or the ridiculously unflattering stretchy jeans which just fall down all the time. I want to be able to wear a dress out to dinner without having to put on two different kinds of shapewear underneath. I want to be able to treat myself occasionally to beautiful lingerie, instead of resigning myself to tucking my belly into the same old bought-in-a-pack-of-5 knickers, because it looks gross anyway so what's the point of having nice underwear.
I want I want I want! Good! At least that's reminded me of why I'm about to do this thing. Hopefully these reasons will all still seem worthwhile when I come to look back at them over the next few days and weeks.
The worst thing tomorrow is going to be saying goodbye to my girls when I drop them off at school. I'm bound to shed some tears once I've done that. Then it's back to positive thinking. Because there's no point thinking any other way.
26 May 2015
Day of treatment
So, as predicted, I had tears this morning after saying goodbye to my girls, then more after phoning my mom. Then I was so ridiculously nervous waiting at the hospital I felt like crying over pretty much anything. Yikes.
Anyway the anaesthetist and surgeon came to see me beforehand and were very calm and put me at ease as much as I could be. After that it seemed to happen pretty fast. They came for me about 45mins earlier than initially expected which was a good thing. I was out like a light and the next thing I knew I was being woken up in recovery...
Feeling good!! Part 2
26 May 2015
Day of treatment
I felt a little pain at first, and had a few goes with my pain pump. My throat was extremely dry & croaky, and I felt a bit groggy, but all in all not too bad.
After a short while chilling out in recovery they wheeled me back to my room where I've been for a few hours now, and actually felt pretty good.
My surgeon injected my muscles with a long lasting painkiller, plus I've had just a couple of presses of the pain pump, and I can honestly say I'm not in pain tonight.
In fact the worst thing by far is that I permanently feel like I'm absolutely desperate for a wee, but when I get there I can barely squeeze a drop out. Don't know what's going on there. Maybe just extra sensitivity and pressure?
Anyway, several trips to the bathroom have been completely manageable, just a bit awkward with my drip and drains and the nurse waiting at the door, but not painful, which I did not expect!
Feeling good!! Part 3
26 May 2015
Day of treatment
I've had a visit from my husband. It was really good to see him again, and we had a lovely chat for an hour or so. I've been slowly sipping plenty of water as I still feel really dehydrated. I also had a late supper of mozzarella & tomato salad. I didn't feel a bit hungry but thought I would force something down. Once I started though it really hit the spot - food of the gods!! And the obligatory cup of tea of course.
I should really try to get some sleep now but it's hard to imagine how that's going to work out, what with the noisy leg compression pumps and the constant needing a wee sensation!
Oh, also I don't wear my compression garment until my two drains come out so I can see my new tummy, sort of. Looks good so far, and when I was sitting on the toilet I did happen to notice that there was no big extra wrinkly belly skin sitting in my lap. Hooray!!!
Still doing well
So it's probably about 20 hours after I came out of surgery.
I came off the morphine pump several hours ago and I'm just on paracetamol at the moment. And presumably still the effects of the long lasting injection into my muscles yesterday. Must ask how long that actually lasts for.
I've been in and out of bed loads of times, to the bathroom, to get washed and changed, and for a walk all the way down the corridor and back, very, very slowly heheh! I'm finding all of these things perfectly manageable by myself so long as I take it easy.
The worst thing at the moment is the lack of sleep. I probably had about an hour last night. I was kept awake by the noise of the compression machine on my legs, and also by needing to wee and not being able to - to the point of being painful. Turns out this is a reaction to the morphine stopping my bladder from working properly. The situation is not back to normal yet but definitely getting better now I'm off the morphine.
I have to wear the compression thing on my legs every time I'm in bed, so sleep is going to be a challenge. I found I could almost drown out the noise by wearing ear plugs and then playing music from my iPhone through noise cancelling earphones! So I'm going to try for a nap like that now for a couple of hours before dinner and then my girls visiting this evening.
Apart from the sleep issue though I'm amazed how good I feel and how well I'm getting around :)
3rd night in hospital
I'm about to spend my third and final night in hospital. This is my surgeon's standard procedure. She likes everything doing to her own very precise methods.
It's been a quiet day. I wouldn't say I've been in lots of pain, but I've definitely been feeling it more today. For pain relief I've mainly had paracetamol and maybe 4/5 codeine all day. They don't want me to overdo the codeine as I still haven't had a BM yet and the codeine certainly won't help in that department.
I've been making sure I get up and about in my room and down the corridor, etc, but it feels like the bending over is almost making my lower back go into spasm. My surgeon doesn't want me to straighten up completely for 2 weeks, so that's going to be fun...
Hoping to get my drains out and compression garment on tomorrow before I go home.
I was so exhausted last night I slept right through which I so needed! Fingers crossed I manage to get some sleep tonight too - last night with the lovely leg pumps on :)
Home sweet home
3 days after surgery I got both drains out and my compression garment on. Getting the drains out was not a big deal - it was a weird sensation when they were pulled out, but not painful, and over in a couple of seconds. The compression garment is not great. It's one with the opening underneath which is somewhat uncomfortable. It's also a bit long on my torso so it interferes with my bra, and ripples on my sides a bit. Still, I thought I would be annoyed with the restrictive feeling of basically wearing shapewear 24 hours a day, but this has not been an issue. I think maybe the feeling of support is reassuring.
For the first two or three days at home I have been feeling ok, but a bit irritable and miserable at times. Nothing too drastic, but not being able to find a comfortable rest position can get frustrating, especially when I'm tired. I really thought I would be sleeping a lot in the week following surgery, but sleep has been a little hard to come by.
Since coming home I've slept in our normal bed (with my poor husband kicked out into the spare room!). I've alternated between sleeping on my back with 2 pillows under my knees, and sleeping on my side with my knees bent a little. Neither has felt great, and the first 2 nights at home I didn't get a huge amount of sleep. I needed to take a cocodamol in order to drop off for 2/3 hours. Last night was better though. I took no painkillers at all, and I slept for most of the night, waking only a couple of times. I feel much better for it today.
I've had a very quiet day today with my Kindle while the kids have been in holiday club at school. I've had no painkillers at all for over 24 hours, and I definitely feel like I'm making progress in my recovery. I even sat in my office for a while this afternoon and did a tiny bit of work.
My lower back pain is much reduced now. A combination of being able to stand a little straighter, and also working out how to position myself a bit better. I've found that curling my pelvis under and bending my knees a bit allows me to keep me from being straight without having to bend forward at the waist and therefore putting so much pressure on my back.
As far as pain in my stomach is concerned, it really is minimal. When it does flare up it is a dull pain similar to period pain. And occasionally I get sharp stabbing pains around the incision, especially when I'm tired, which I'm guessing is the nerves repairing. And then there's the muscle pain when I try to cough or laugh. In fact, coughing or laughing is out of the question, and feels like it will be for quite some time..!
I have my 1 week appointment with my surgeon tomorrow. I'm hoping to get the go ahead to take a shower tomorrow - that is going to be the best shower ever!
I'll add some photo updates tomorrow :)
Day 8 pics
I had my one week appointment yesterday. When the dressings were taken off my first reaction was that I felt pleased with how the incisions look. I had been prepared for them to be a lot more gruesome than that :)
I also had concerns that my belly button would look big and round and crazy, but from what I can see beneath the dried blood, stitches and surgical glue it looks small and cute. I am actually a little bit in love with my new belly button right now!
My surgeon was pleased and said everything looks as it should. She stressed I still need to walk hunched over until day 14.
Upon closer inspection when I got home I see the skin is quite rippled along parts of the incision. They said this will smooth out once it heals and the swelling goes down. Is this true? I need to revisit some RS reviews for evidence I think.
I also see some stretch marks developing on the tight skin above the incision which is worrying. I would like to start putting something such as coconut oil on the skin, but don't want to interfere with the actual incision at this point...
Anyway, here are a couple of pictures taken after my long awaited shower this morning (bliss!). A combination of not standing straight and lots of swelling...yikes!
Getting back to normal
I'm 16 days post op, and I'm definitely feeling a lot more human. I took the car out for the first time on day 13, so I'm doing the school run again now. I work part time from home, and I'm back to doing that as normal. I'm able to do a few chores around the house and a bit of cooking, but trying to avoid the heavy lifting of pots, etc.
I'm walking upright now, or at least I think I am, until I catch myself in the mirror doing the little old lady stoop again! I usually have pretty good posture, but everything still feels so tight, I think my body is in protection mode and I'm automatically hunching over. I can stand up straight anyway, so I just have to work on doing it more often. I lay flat out on my back in bed last night for the first time, which felt great. It's how I'm used to sleeping, and I had an unbroken night's sleep - lovely!
I don't feel like I'm walking normally yet though! I think I must swing my hips quite a lot when I walk, and the tightness around my middle is preventing me from doing that naturally, so I feel like my walk is a bit robotic at the moment. I'm sure that will improve soon.
The worst thing at the moment is, predictably, the swelling. When I look in the mirror and then at my before pictures I know that the excess, saggy skin is gone, but my shape, even with a compression garment on, still looks the same - even with my clothes on. That stupid sticky out belly that I don't want to see any more. Ugh. It doesn't help my mood or my swelling that I'm just about starting to get my period I suppose...
I knew there would be swelling - of course, everybody gets swelling - and I swore I would not let myself get stressed out about it; that I would just go with the flow and be patient and wait for it to pass. But now it's here I just keep looking at it, and thinking about it, and worrying that it won't go down enough and I won't get the shape I was hoping for.
It would help if I could find a CG or shapewear that I was happy with. The one that I was given at the hospital is too big really - too long for my frame and hence wrinkling down, and also not pulling me in enough. Then the shapewear I already owned is so ridiculously difficult to pull up and down I feel like it's going to damage the incisions healing. Time for a shopping trip soon I think.
Anyway, I hope everybody else is healing well, and being patient - unlike me!!!