32yo, Twin Toddlers, Busted Back and Voice - Drainless TT

I feel like one of those people who call into a...

I feel like one of those people who call into a radio show: "Long time listener, first time caller." I've read several of your stories and tips on this site and I suppose its time I should start a log of my own.
I'm a mom to hilarious and gorgeous 3yo twins. My pregnancy with them took a huge toll on my body. In addition to everything else I endured during that time (did anyone else here get PUPPS?!? Holy hell.) I was also vomiting throughout the full 37.5 weeks and somehow gained nearly 80 pounds. I could barely eat so where it came from is anyone's guess. At any rate, I ended up with 12.5 pounds of babies, diastasis recti, and a back which has never recovered.
While I'm not thrilled with the "twin skin" that's actually impossible to diet and exercise away (I was only 6 months pregnant when my OB-GYN looked at my pulsating Atlas of a tummy and said to start saving for this surgery) it wasn't enough personally to go through with a major surgery. I always thought that I'd only have aesthetic surgery if I were kicked in the face by a horse or something.
When my kids were two I started to have numbness and tingling in my fingers and legs. My doctor thought it may be related to my back pain and I went off to a series of PT. By the time I was discharged from those sessions of PT my numbness had gone away, but only a few weeks later my back went out entirely while at my kids' third birthday party. Then again and even more fully/painfully just a couple weeks later. One of the worst pains of my life. I spent all of Christmas Eve/Day etc laying on the floor. That's when I started looking into this more realistically. I had read about so many women who were in similar situations who did end up with a stronger core with the diastasis correction and ultimately a healthy back. Even at my best it always has a feeling of weakness and in certain positions will hurt. At its worst I can barely move.
My other "thing": I'm almost embarrassed to hope for this but I tracked down a couple of women on the Internet with this same issue who said that an abdominoplasty helped them with it. Before kids I was an actress and musical theatre was my thing. At some point in my third trimester I completely lost my ability to sing. By the time I held my newborns in the hospital I couldn't even croak out a lullaby. For someone who has spent so much of her life working on her singing voice, this was personally devastating. It has somewhat improved since then but I have nowhere near the strength or range that I used to. I certainly couldn't sing on a stage like this. I saw 3 specialists, none of whom could pinpoint the problem and a lovely physical therapist who I did find helpful to a degree but it could only take me so far.
So that's the deal: I really hope this helps with my back. My stretch goal (a gal can dream) is that it helps with my voice. I'm trying to tell myself that if both of those fail... Well hell I'm still going to have a tummy that I don't have to tuck into my jeans! Not a bad consolation.
Since February I had been scheduled for surgery on 9.12.16. We had life all planned with my work, husband's work, and my MIL flying in to help with the kids while I recover. Last week the doctor's office calls to say he'll be out of town for my surgery date. Uhhhh... Ok? They were very apologetic but it's certainly frustrating. So now I'm a few days earlier on 9.8 (GAH! Exactly 3 months from today)! My MIL had to move her flight (we're hoping they'll waive that fee with a note from the doctor), I reworked my time off at my job, and fortunately my husband had built in a couple extra days of vacation. So all is well but it still managed to rattle me a bit. However, if this is the sole complication (knock on wood) I suppose I'll take it! Thanks for listening to my big, long brain dump! :D

Second thoughts

About a month and a half away from surgery and I'm feeling the doubt really ramp up. I'm "sure" I'm going through with it but of course I won't let myself do this guilt-free.

Due to the expense and time off work for both of us, this is taking the place of our family vacation. I know it's a short term hiccup for long term rewards but it stings a bit. On top of that my sweet toddlers won't have me in the same physical capacity for awhile. They still need so much help for daily tasks. They'll have their Grammy helping out which is a real treat and we adore her so that helps.

I have an appointment in a couple weeks since my original one was so long ago. I was told my PS would want to see me again because of the time gap but I'm not sure what it's going to change or accomplish.

I had an episode with lifting my son where he grabbed onto something mid-lift and I am suspicious that I may have widened my DR - the way my abs really hurt for many days after and I could see my innards moving around again like I could after I had them concern me. I suppose that's a +1 in the column of going through with it. I also have somewhere between mediocre to severe back pain every day and I'm so hoping this helps out there.

So we'll see. I think doubt/feeling selfish is normal. The chances of something going majorly wrong are slim and I'm otherwise healthy so I'm trying to suppress those worries and replace them with hope for a stronger body which can handle more play.

The photo is of me, laid up because of my back (again) and my girl playing with my long-lost belly button. She tells me she loves it because it's "jiggly". Oh, my sweet babes.

What do I NEED?

Hi all! I am a week and a half away and I feel like I'm "nesting". I've been somewhat crazily cleaning and organizing my home. Surely my family can handle themselves for a bit without my help but I think it also gives me a feeling of control when my nerves about this are trying to get the best of me.
I made the full payment so I guess I'm a go now!
I'm a little bummed that my surgery isn't until 2:30pm and I'm not allowed to eat or drink ANYTHING after midnight the night before but she also said they'd be doing a urine test when I get there... If I haven't had anything to drink I don't know where they expect that to come from but godspeed on your quest.
I have purchased a "wedge" pillow thing for my bed, one of those 0-gravity chairs, a reacher/grabber thingy, extra long shoe horn, ice pack, pill organizer, loose comfy pants, a handheld shower head, dry shampoo, and little "mommy is sorry that she is going to be a hot mess for awhile" gifts for my kids. What am I forgetting/not thinking of that helped you?

Here goes.

My long awaited surgery is tomorrow. It was scheduled at 2:30pm and they called today to bump it up to 8:30am! For some reason that change is putting my anxiety on overdrive. It was hard saying goodnight to my 3 year olds knowing they don't understand I'll be out of commission for awhile. Anyway, I'll try to update here after I come to if I'm not completely out of it. Wish me luck! ????

It's over!

Well, I got through a huge bout of anxiety while waiting for my turn in the OR but passed out before even making it in there. I woke up and it was over!
I'm alternating hydrocodone with ibuprofen to keep ahead of the pain and it's being managed fairly well. I missed the midnight dose and woke to a lot of pain this morning. I won't make that mistake again!
I'm very glad I had purchased a 0-gravity chair as it is far easier to get in and out of than the bed.
They gave me lots of anti-nausea meds which is great because I'm a puker but I've had no problems there.
My only concern is that the skin of my left thigh is numb but when I extend that leg or walk on it I have severe burning pain. I'm concerned about nerve damage. During my little walks every 2 hours, my thigh hurts more than the rest of me.
I won't have my binder off until I take a shower tomorrow so I don't know what it looks like under there yet.
Great news! He was able to do the drainless procedure which I am so grateful for. I was really hoping that would be the case and I got my wish :)
I'll add a picture of how he marked me up and then a couple in my binder.
When I'm not dozing I've been pretty chipper - so far, all is well!

The reveal

Yowza- my nurse wasn't kidding when she said day 3 would probably be the hardest. This morning I was extremely sore and for the first time very nauseous. I'm a puker so they had given me meds to counteract that through my IV and then a patch behind my ear. Both of which must have started to wear off during the night because I felt really ill and was scared to death of the pain vomiting would create. At any rate, I had my husband run out and fill the RX for Zofran and I am much better in that arena now.
I also got to take off my binder for my first shower. I did OK but my teeth started chattering crazy hard and I was shaking all over. Not sure if that's normal but it took several hours for the chills to completely disappear. I'll post photos here of my new body.
It's so crazy to me that the worst pain I have is from my left thigh. The skin there is numb and when I extend it or especially walk on it I get an excruciating burning sensation that seems to be getting worse instead of better. It had started the first time I got off the recovery bed at the surgery center and hasn't let up. My nurse had said she'd ask the PS about it but I never heard back and they're now closed for the weekend. It sounds to me like nerve damage and the pain is intense and doesn't seem to react to my prescribed pain pills. I'm hoping I can call on Monday and they can find some relief for that. I think if that weren't such a problem the rest of my recovery is going better than I had expected! Has anyone else experienced this awful thigh pain?
I'm pretty happy with the look of my results. The redness and wrinkles are from the binder. It looks as though once swelling goes down it will look good!

The swelling sets in

Whew the swelling really started to pick up over night. I didn't sleep well because my thigh is still giving me a lot of pain so I ended up spending most of the night sitting instead of laying in bed. My feet look like Shrek's which reminds me of the third trimester of my pregnancy. I've gained 7 pounds since the operation and I have to imagine that's from water retention since I'm not just going crazy on food or anything.

I was finally able to get ahold of someone at the Dr's office who is moving up my appointment from Friday to tomorrow and prescribing Valium to get me there due to this horrid leg pain.

I must say, I had been keeping a pretty positive outlook and tried to remain cheery but the situation with them not getting back to me and leaving me in pain over the weekend had me frustrated and crying on the phone. Now this afternoon I'm back to tears because my husband keeps having better things to do than pick up this Rx (a 5 minute drive) and put me out of my misery. It makes me feel as though he thinks I'm overplaying the pain or just doesn't think it is a big enough priority for him. I really do appreciate everything he has been helping me with but I can't wrap my head around this one and it's hurting my feelings.

It doesn't help that our kids are starting to act out with tantrums for ridiculous reasons. I think everyone is starting to let the stress of the situation get to them a bit. I'm going to work on getting back to being happy once I have this pain under control.

Other than the swelling and thigh pain though I really am doing better than I would have expected pain wise. I'm going to concentrate on spending the rest of the day resting and start tomorrow fresh.

Nerve damage

Yesterday was a big day. First we went to see the PS about my thigh pain/numbness who was concerned about nerve damage and referred me to a pain management doctor later that day.
The doctor diagnosed it as Meralgia Parasthetica which is basically yes, nerve damage. He is starting me on a nerve medication which takes some time to build up before relief comes so in the meantime I'm applying lidocaine to help calm the pain. I'm mostly glad that I'm not crazy and there's a plan in place. The pain doesn't respond much to the regular pain meds and I feel like I was prolonging my use of those over this thigh pain. Knowing that it's not effective there I am looking forward to weaning off of the hydrocodone as I'm actually tolerating the TT pain rather well at this point.
So in the end, this feels like a positive step and I'm able to make better informed decisions about when and what to medicate.
In other news, my twins have started acting out with tantrum levels we've never seen before. I imagine that the amount of time mommy has been up in her room was starting to weigh on them so today we set up my recliner in the living room next to the couch and they were able to cozy up next to me and come when they needed comfort. I think it was a great move and we'll continue that when they're not in PM preschool. I do enjoy resting in my room upstairs in peace so I'll move up there when they take off for school.
Things are progressing! I have what was intended to be my initial follow up appointment on Friday which they would still like me to keep even though I came in yesterday and my goal is to be able to report a significant improvement in my level of pain.
Attached is today's progress pic. Did anyone else have these lines coming down from their belly button? I assume it's just pulled skin?

Out of the house

Yesterday was lovely. I spent the morning sitting with my 3yo son while he put together puzzles. He was much happier than the past few days. He casually asked "mommy are you not sick anymore?" and he has a hilarious impression of how I have been walking lately. Little ones have been having a tough time but hopefully will get better as I'm able to be more active with them.
Had my follow-up appointment today and my belly button stitches removed which is extra gross right now. Lucky you: I'll post a pic!
PS says those lines under my bb are just from stretched skin and will diminish over time.
I've been coughing today which is a killer but otherwise pain isn't bad and I've only had 1 ibuprofen! Back to sleeping in bed like a human and my husband says I kept him up snoring ???? Poor baby can sleep on the couch. ????

Long overdue update

WHOOPS! I kept meaning to update but I guess I hadn't realized that I let it go quite as long as I did.
Let's see: my whole family caught the stomach flu and we were all actively trying to make sure I didn't catch it but right around the two week mark I spent a TERRIBLE night trying not to vomit and then ultimately losing the battle. Trying to vomit gently while in terrible pain is not a great way to spend the night. Fortunately it was about a 24 hour bug and aside from being sore and tired from it for a couple days following it didn't seem to have damaged anything which was my biggest fear.
I ended up buying a different binder from the one my PS gave me because I just couldn't hate it harder and aside from being uncomfortable all day it really made it tough to sleep. I decided it was either a new binder or no binder so I went for it. The new one is no picnic either but it's 1000x better.
When I laugh too hard, after a few seconds my stomach will start to cramp up like a Charlie Horse and it takes a long time to kind of stretch and breathe it back to normal. This is actually getting a lot better but for awhile there I was cursing how funny my friends and family are. I had to kick out a friend one night for making me laugh too much.
I went back to work at 2.5 weeks and did OK. When I get home I'm useless and exhausted even though it's a desk job.
My damn leg is still an issue though nowhere near what it had been at the beginning. It is at its worst when I first stand up and the longer I've been sitting the worse it is. It will occasionally still get me out of nowhere too when I'd otherwise been walking fine.
On Friday my MIL left home for FL and my husband worked a 48 shift this weekend so it has just been me and the kids. They've been awesome (when reminded) about my speed/activity tolerance/etc and have been surprisingly kind and patient about it. They may even have had to teach themselves a little extra independence because they're normally your average 3-year-old level of high maintenance.
I had started to get worried that my belly button was going to close up as it had scabbed over and was appearing to heal. I asked the ps office and a nurse instructed me to soften it with a qtip and a hydrogen peroxide/water mixture. It took about 4 days of me messing with it a couple times a day but it finally opened up today. Ick/yay. I mean... I would like to have a belly button so I suppose it was worth it.
Aside from all that, things are going well! I felt REALLY good this past Wednesday... So good in fact that I did way too much and paid for it for the couple days following. Lesson learned. I'm the mom that's always busy being busy so it's a struggle for me to just sit things out.
To completely ignore/challenge that lesson I just mentioned, I booked plane tickets for just the kids and I to head out to see family in Colorado in a couple weeks. Really the only concern is the airport so I think it will be fine but it's at about the 4.5 week mark so it's admittedly a little soon for such a big undertaking with toddlers. But the flights are direct so no running to catch a flight abs we'll be checking our luggage so no heavy lifting. I think it will be OK. Probably. Sure why not.
A bunch of WHOOPS! I kept meaning to update but I guess I hadn't realized that I let it go quite as long as I did.
Let's see: my whole family caught the stomach flu and we were all actively trying to make sure I didn't catch it but right around the two week mark I spent a TERRIBLE night trying not to vomit and then ultimately losing the battle. Trying to vomit gently while in terrible pain is not a great way to spend the night. Fortunately it was about a 24 hour bug and aside from being sore and tired from it for a couple days following it didn't seem to have damaged anything which was my biggest fear.
I ended up buying a different binder from the one my PS gave me because I just couldn't hate it harder and aside from being uncomfortable all day it really made it tough to sleep. I decided it was either a new binder or no binder so I went for it. The new one is no picnic either but it's 1000x better.
When I laugh too hard, after a few seconds my stomach will start to cramp up like a Charlie Horse and it takes a long time to kind of stretch and breathe it back to normal. This is actually getting a lot better but for awhile there I was cursing how funny my friends and family are. I had to kick out a friend one night for making me laugh too much.
I went back to work at 2.5 weeks and did OK. When I get home I'm useless and exhausted even though it's a desk job.
My damn leg is still an issue though nowhere near what it had been at the beginning. It is at its worst when I first stand up and the longer I've been sitting the worse it is. It will occasionally still get me out of nowhere too when I'd otherwise been walking fine.
On Friday my MIL left home for FL and my husband worked a 48 shift this weekend so it has just been me and the kids. They've been awesome (when reminded) about my speed/activity tolerance/etc and have been surprisingly kind and patient about it. They may even have had to teach themselves a little extra independence because they're normally your average 3-year-old level of high maintenance.
I had started to get worried that my belly button was going to close up as it had scabbed over and was appearing to heal. I asked the ps office and a nurse instructed me to soften it with a qtip and a hydrogen peroxide/water mixture. It took about 4 days of me messing with it a couple times a day but it finally opened up today. Ick/yay. I mean... I would like to have a belly button so I suppose it was worth it.
Aside from all that, things are going well! I felt REALLY good this past Wednesday... So good in fact that I did way too much and paid for it for the couple days following. Lesson learned. I'm the mom that's always busy being busy so it's a struggle for me to just sit things out.
To completely ignore/challenge that lesson I just mentioned, I booked plane tickets for just the kids and I to head out to see family in Colorado in a couple weeks. Really the only concern is the airport so I think it will be fine but it's at about the 4.5 week mark so it's admittedly a little soon for such a big undertaking with toddlers. But the flights are direct so no running to catch a flight abs we'll be checking our luggage so no heavy lifting. I think it will be OK. Probably. Sure why not.
A bunch of photos from the time I've missed attached!
from the time I've missed attached! I can't fit them all here so will add the rest in a new post. This one takes you up to 2 weeks.

Week 3 photos

This includes my belly button before and after trying put the hydrogen peroxide solution to open it back up, as well as my first look at my scar after finally removing the steri strips.
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