A little over a week and a half ago I underwent surgery to correct an umbilical hernia (read: belly button hernia) and diastasis recti (read: separated abdominal muscles).
My muscles separated slightly after the birth of my firstborn 5.5 years ago, and just kept on widening during and after the birth of my twins. And my belly button, once this adorable little innie, flipped outward and became an actual button — like one you could press in and watch it pop back out. Cool! And also, gross.
I thought I would be able to put off the surgery until the twins were much older—and until they didn’t need (or rather, want) me to carry them anymore. But my surgeon urged me to just get it done before things got worse and the hernia became an urgent medical condition.
So we set surgery for early May. Amazingly, it was performed laparoscopically, and with the use of a robotic arm — as in, my surgeon was in another area of the room, separate from me, controlling the robot arm from a computer screen. Modern medicine is pretty miraculous, right??
I pretty much expected recovery to be miserable. I had been told horror stories, such as I wouldn’t be able to stand straight for well over a month; walking would be excruciating; I’d have to sleep in a recliner for weeks; I’d be sent home with drains; and so much more. Needless to say, I was pretty terrified (and totally baffled as to how I’d manage to take care of the kiddos while handling all of this awfulness at the same time…).
But incredibly, it’s been none of that! I was up and walking the hospital corridor the next day. And though I had some pretty significant pain for 4-5 days (and a shallow “can’t catch my breath” scare—something I did not anticipate during recovery), I was off the heavy duty pain meds within a week of surgery.
I still have to wear an abdominal binder for the next 6-8 weeks (which, frankly, I like—it holds it all in and makes me feel super secure), and can’t lift more than 10 lbs for the same time frame, but each and every day has been so much better than the previous one.
I’m enjoying daily walks around my neighborhood (the only kind of exercise I can really do right now), more time at home with the kids, and even finished a book club book for the first time in…um…a year (no joke! The only problem? I read the wrong book…HA!).
When I’m fully healed (and no longer super swollen), I honestly don’t even care what my belly is gonna look like. Let’s get real: I’ve carried three kids. My tummy has been stretched in ways I never thought my 5’2″ frame would allow. I have c-section scars, hip surgery scars, and now four new scars from this recent surgery. My belly button still looks slightly deformed. I don’t really care. All I want to feel is STRONG. And when these muscles fully adhere back together again — scars and excess skin and all — that’s exactly what I’ll be.