An update on my sad belly

I wrote a while back about the sad state of my stomach, and if you’re in the middle of lunch, you might want to skip this update. I’m almost a year out from Henry’s birth (How did that happen?), and I had a doctor’s appointment yesterday. I again brought up the stomach. She again encouraged me to continue exercising and eating right, and I told her that I had been doing both. She also mentioned the possibility of laser treatment.

I am not seeking pre-baby svelteness, and I accepted long ago that I would not return to wearing a bikini. I simply want to have my shirts lie smooth rather than puckering oddly at my stomach. I still look pregnant.

My doctor began the exam. About halfway through, she said, “Let me just look at this.” She pulled aside my gown to check my stomach.

“Oh,” she said, a note of sympathy in her voice. “There are some very good plastic surgeons in Austin,” she said, encouraging now. “I can give you some names.”

And just like that, I knew that I wasn’t crazy. She said that my problem is more than cosmetic. I have the extra skin, but I also have a huge separation in my ab muscles — diastasis recti for those who want the medical term. It’s very similar to having a hernia and makes my mid-section weak. I’ve done specific exercises to try to correct this, but they haven’t worked.

“Other women who have had babies do not look like this,” my doctor said.

You’re telling me! I look like I birthed rhinoceroses!

I needed that affirmation. I’m not trying to get back to my pre-baby self. I’m merely hoping to look like other women who have had babies, which is to say that I would like to wear normal clothes without feeling self-conscious. I have beaten myself up enough over this stomach thing, and though I hate the thought of more surgery, I want my body to feel and look strong again. I’m planning to go all-out on the ab workouts for a month or two and then meet with a doctor. My hope is that I can do the much-less-invasive laser treatment. All of this is just one more reminder that I am my own best advocate. When something feels wrong, it probably is.

Month eleven — Henry

Dear Henry,

Yesterday you turned 11 months old. The only thing you want at the moment is to grasp my fingers for balance and explore the world on your own two feet. You ignore the toys that I thrust at you. You ignore the toys that others thrust at you. You will not be sidetracked by these shenanigans. You are going to be an Olympic-caliber walker. Someday. If you can ever bring yourself to let go of my fingers, which so far, you cannot do.

photo_20141003_0420

I am often struck by the differences in parenting your sister and you. A few weeks ago, we took you to the zoo. Your sister was nearly the same age on her first trip to the zoo, and I remember us holding her high to see the animals and talking to her as if she were in veterinary school. And you, well, you sat in the stroller until the last 10 minutes of the trip when I pointed out that you probably hadn’t even been able to see the animals. Sorry, kid.

photo_20140927_0337

You’re doing your best to get our attention. The second we turn our backs, you’re climbing the stairs. Dad let you climb part way a few weeks ago, and now that is all you want to do. When I come over to grab you, you climb faster. You also love to dig in the sediment at the bottom of our gas fireplace and get sooty smudges all over yourself. Yes, our baby-proofing is lacking.

photo_20141010_0462

Your sister loves you lately. Looooves you. She picks you up beneath your arms and carries you around until your face turns red. She wrestles with you on the floor until your face turns red. She seems to be suffocating you most of the time, but you’re so happy to have her attention that you don’t say a word. Sometimes you even laugh, usually when I’m reprimanding her for being too rough. Can I get a little help here, please, Henry?

photo_20141012_0810

For so long, it was just Eleanor, your dad, and I. Long after you were born, I thought of myself as Eleanor’s mom. Then I would remember: Oh yeah, and I have this baby, too. I can feel this starting to shift. You are growing into a kid, a little person who wants to play with me and interact with other children. I will be very sad to leave the baby stage behind, but that sadness is tempered by my excitement to see who you become. Go climb mountains, Henry.

photo_20140927_0295

Love,
Mom

One day for remembering

Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. This one day seems so small in the face of what it is recognizing, but it is something, at least.

Greg and I went on a date a few days ago, and we were having a discussion about finding purpose in life, and a minute later I was crying over my pumpkin ravioli. I will spend every single day missing my daughter. And even though I’ve lived with that for more than three years, I still have moments where I’m not sure how to keep living with it.

Most of my hours are filled with chaos, joy, messes, reprimands. My life looks, and feels, mostly normal. But when we gather with all of the families in our neighborhood, and I see that gaggle of 3- and 4-year-olds (We are literally the only family without a preschooler.), I wonder who Genevieve would be chasing. Am I the only one remembering?

If you remember, light a candle tonight. And thank you.