Six weeks and six days ago, I had a baby. Here he is.
The Beach Boys and hottie John Stamos aren't the only ones who want to go to Kokomo.
At six weeks and six days, Liam:
- Has been diagnosed with and declared healed from umbilical granuloma
- Indulges in self-torture by way of pulling his own hair
- Screams after said hair pulling but requires Momma to free him from his iron grip
- Smiles when you plant puckery kisses on his mouth
- Is drawn to light, especially when it's shining through half-closed blinds
- Cannot maintain a dry diaper for longer than eight seconds
- Is settling into a feeding pattern of four ounces every three hours and is already showing signs that he's ready to ditch his middle-of-the-night feeding
- Spent a half-hour awake and smiling in his cradle swing today. THIS IS HUGE.
- Has perfected several facial expressions, including Zoolander's Blue Steel
- Is already losing his hair. Maybe, son, it's because YOU'RE PULLING IT OUT BY THE ROOTS
- Will probably grow up answering to Luke's and my primary nickname of choice: Nathan
Harbored behind those bright blue eyes and chipmunk cheeks is an ocean of wisdom.
Meanwhile, this is me.
At six weeks and six days postpartum, I:
- Drink a lot of coffee, as evidenced by ninety percent of my Facebook posts
- Call milk and cookies my evening poison
- Sit almost five pounds under my pre-pregnancy weight, despite my brand loyalty to all things Oreo
- Lay claim to one (1) infection-free c-section scar
- Have hosted a lengthy visit from the nefarious Aunt Flo
- Heard the phrases "tummy tuck" and "plastic surgeon" uttered by my OB/GYN during last Thursday's postpartum follow-up
- Feel super awesome about this!
Let me explain.
Early on in my second trimester, I was diagnosed with having diastasis recti - the separation of your abdominal muscles into left and right halves. It felt like a pretty big deal at the time, as I cried out in pain whenever someone so much as brushed against my stomach, but by my third trimester, the discomfort was gone and I assumed I was out of the woods. Prior to my c-section, though, my OB/GYN promised to be mindful of my abdominal area and do what she could to tighten things up during surgery, if such tightening were necessary.
The first few weeks after Liam was born, I was in such hell from my c-section and then so focused on recovering that I didn't think much about the diastasis recti, until a fellow Hoosier blogger posted about her own dance with the condition. I wasn't feeling any of the pain Casey talked about, but my stomach protruded in a similar fashion, albeit saddled with eight extra tons of Frema flab. Now, I've never rocked a six-pack, or even a one-pack for that matter, but maybe at least some of the flab could be attributed to this? I decided to ask my doctor about it at my six-week check-up.
The exam itself went great. Incision healed, vitals normal, birth control taken care of (thanks again, honey), physical activity approved.... All good news. Then I brought up the diastasis recti and waited to hear the recommended course of treatment. Ab splint? Physical therapy? Whatever it is, I said, I would do it. Bring it on.
My OB/GYN was silent as she rested her hand slightly below my breasts.
(Get your mind out of the gutter, you.)
"There's still a slight separation I can feel right here," she explained, her hand still in place, "but most of what we're dealing with is stretched out skin."
Hmm. Not exactly the verdict I was hoping for. "Since I'm cleared for exercise, would that do anything for me?"
She tilted her head as she considered the question. "It could help some, but typically excess skin, once it's there, doesn't go away without surgery."
Enter abdominoplasty/tummy tuck conversation here.
Before you start railing on my doctor, please note that she did not in any way, shape, or form suggest that I need to have this done. If you had been a fly on the wall for my entire check-up, it would have been obvious to you that the thought of carrying around this amount of skin for the rest of my life made me more than a little uncomfortable. She also went on to say that during my c-section, she added some extra stitches to tighten things up around my abdomen and pointed out that internally I am not completely healed. "It's too soon to make any decisions right now. See what you can do with diet and exercise, and after some time, if it still bothers you, I can give you a referral for a plastic surgeon, and you can schedule a consult to get more information."
So, there you have it. One more bullet point to add to my list of "Things I Used to Scoff At Before I Became a Mother."
Seriously, though, I'm not sure what to think. On one hand, even before having kids, I've always had a bit of a belly overhang that kept me from effortlessly shopping for clothes, being naked in front of other people, and having sex without feeling at least a little self-conscious. After Kara, that bit of overhang turned into a tire gut, and after Nathan, graduated to the dreaded "mother's apron" (a term I just today learned from Shape of a Mother, thank you very much), and now? Well, let's just say even the worst "Before" pictures on Wikipedia's abdominoplasty page don't do my midsection justice. Yet, all this time, I've never before entertained the idea of having it surgically removed. Girl power, love yourself and all that jazz. And now as a parent, in particular a mom to a daughter, I worry about the kind of message I would be sending about self-love and acceptance by submitting myself to unnecessary plastic surgery. How can I encourage Kara to embrace who she is, AS she is, if I'm having my own imperfections hacked off with a scalpel?
On the other hand, it's not as if I'm in danger of becoming the next Heidi Montag. Overall I quite like my body and thank God for all it's been able to do, including but not limited to carrying three healthy babies and running a half-marathon. I have no problems walking out of the house sans make-up, even to work, and I can take or leave coloring my hair. Getting a tummy tuck would be a specific answer to a specific problem that's frustrated me for years. And unless I changed my zero-tolerance policy on bikinis and tube tops, the only person besides me who would even notice the end result is Luke. Which is fine by me, since I would only be doing it for me.
As for Kara and the boys? Well, I may be relatively new to parenting, but even I know enough to appreciate that this one choice wouldn't negate years of consistent teaching and role modeling when it comes to loving yourself as you are. Plus, while I believe in the importance of self-acceptance, I also support making your own happiness and not closing a door out of fear for what others might think.
On the other OTHER hand, cosmetic surgery is not something to be taken lightly, and after three c-sections, going under the knife a fourth time to basically improve my self-esteem hardly sounds appealing. Also, I'm nowhere near convinced that the benefits outweigh the risks when I've barely scratched the surface when it comes to improving my commitment to physical fitness. I may never eliminate my gut entirely that way, but who knows? I might come close, all on my own, and that may be enough.
Also, dudes. Tummy tucks? Not cheap. Even if I was resigned to having it done, we couldn't afford it until Luke was back at work, which could be another five years away, and even then I'd have a hard time justifying the cost when the money could be deposited into one of our retirement accounts.
Maybe one day Liam would take pity on me and HE'D pay for the surgery. We could call it the Mother's Day gift that keeps on giving. You think?
Luckily, this is not a decision I have to make (or can afford to make!) tomorrow. What I can do is run over to Wal-Mart, pick up a new Jillian Michaels video, and draw inspiration from one Marty McFly: "If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything."
* ETA because I didn't even think about the title indicating that this might be a sleep entry.