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.