Months After Giving Birth I Still Looked Pregnant And I Didn’t Go To The Gyno ASAP In Fear Of Being Seen As Vain

Pregnancy creates some unknown residuals. The women in my life are thankfully brutally honest about the challenges pregnancy can sometimes create; hardcore exhaustion, weight gain in places you didn’t know could swell, calcium deficiency, teeth decay — you name it.

Such like-mindedness creates a sense of community and understanding. Very much a, “Girrrl, I know how you feel” and a warm blanket feeling without feeling judged.

But there was one post-partem side effect no one warned me about: Diastasis Recti.

After giving birth to my second baby, who is now seven months, I noticed my tummy hadn’t retracted the way it did after giving birth the first time. Four months after Eli’s birth, I still saw myself looking down at my non-deflating tummy.

I began judging myself.

CREDIT: Yolanda Lopez

I would look at myself in the mirror, assess my progress, wonder why my stomach hadn’t deflated and I would pick it apart like a game of Operation.

It is my genes? Generations of women on both sides of my parents are not “thin” and certainly don’t stem from a clean-eating diet. Is it my hormones? Isn’t nursing is supposed to aide in losing weight at a faster pace? I’m Latina, I’m curvy, so I tried to convince myself that it’d take a while. I forced myself to accept that I am not supposed to “bounce back” in weeks like celebrities do — with the help of trainers and chefs, of course.

Rather than visit my gynecologist right away, I rationalized all the reasons why my tummy was still rock-hard and inflated after four months. Honestly, I was also worried that she, too, would cast judgment on me and tell me “it’s normal” or that I was just being vain.

I began eating lighter, smaller portioned meals because I thought shifting my eating habits would prove successful and my stomach would return to normalcy. I was looking to be able to say that my stretch marks and small kangaroo pouch would be the worst of my post-partem look and my “looks like you still have a baby, mommy” bulge would dissipate.

I waited another month but when the dull pain became more intense, I finally went to see my doctor. I lifted my blouse and surveyed her reaction.

“Diastasis recti and possible hernia,” my doctor said.

I had no idea what that meant.

Diastasis recti is a medical term that basically means separation of the abdominal muscles. This is common in 2/3 of women who have been pregnant, apparently. If left untreated after eight weeks, the core is severely affected and all muscles in the ab areas are compromised; this lack of stability and protection affects the whole body functionally. As for my hernia, it was an umbilical hernia to be exact. There was also a possibility that my previous C-section stitches came undone.

I was both relieved for finally knowing the traumas are repairable, but upset that I hadn’t listened to my intuition and gone to see my doctor sooner. Early detection and a simple two-second measurement test would have indicated muscle damage. A few weeks of physical therapy could have corrected the muscle damage. I could have avoided surgery and not interrupt the nursing routine I now have with my baby. But because I waited for some time, my doctor suggested surgery since I’m confident I’m not having any more children.

Even after I found relief in knowing there was something to be done to get rid or the pain, the judgment continues.

I casually told an acquaintance (and someone who I thought might relate because she’s also a mom), about it all and she snidely quipped, “Oh, that’s a tummy tuck.”

Damn. Can a woman catch a break?

I’m not sure why I felt the need to defend myself by clarifying it was medical. And it’s painful. So painful sometimes that I can’t carry my baby and have to sit down with him.

Still, my warm-blanket friends understand and fully support me. “Heck, if I were you I’d get a tummy tuck. They’re already going to open you up.” I laugh at the thought but simultaneously know I’d be judged for the silver lining.

Rather than dwell in my disappointment, I accepted what I cannot change and embrace health and what is. I remind myself that I just had a baby because positive affirmation helps. So does surgery.

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READ: So Many People Thought She Was Pregnant, That Even Her Mom Called To Ask If It Was True

What was your pregnancy experience? Let us know in the comments below.