Battle Wounds or Burden?

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Last night I was flipping through the TV channels, and I came across a show called Big Medicine.This TLC show documents real people, their struggles with weight, self-esteem and weight-loss surgery. My husband is going to have gastric bypass in the very near future, so this show was intriguing to me. I stopped my channel surfing to get a glimpse into the lives of the morbidly obese. However, one young lady, at 27, had gastric bypass surgery at 287 pounds. She had put on a little over 100 lbs in one year, and was thrilled with her current weigh of apx. 163lbs. Unfortunately, she was left with a large amount of excess skin and sagging breasts. She then went on to have plastic surgery, removing large swaths of stretch marked skin and receiving breast implants. What stuck me about this young woman, was the way she said “People think I am selfish for wanting to have plastic surgery. They think I am doing this to look like a supermodel or something. That isn’t the truth. The truth is, I just want to look normal.”

Laura C and Tracey S have already written excellent posts from two different perspectives on the post-partum twin belly.  But whatever you call it, “twin-skin,” “front-butt,” or “dough-belly,” I have it. My twins were a combined 14 1/2 lbs. I gained 49 lbs in my 39 week pregnancy, and I lost every ounce in 22 days. (Haven’t lost any since then, but that is an entirely different story!) As a result, my lower abdomen is wrinkled, saggy and one side hangs lower than the other.  It is hard to find underware and pants that fit properly, and it jiggles entirely too much for my liking! In fact, my abdomen does not look all that different from the young woman having plastic surgery so that she could feel “normal.”

There is a great website out there, Shape of a Mother, which proudly displays photos of mom’s like us, who have been stretched and swollen and don’t look like we did before kids.  Please note, however, that there is nudity contained in the site, and is therefore not appropriate for your work computer.

I watched that young woman go through a very expensive and painful surgery, and when she had recovered, she seemed truly pleased with the results. But all I kept thinking was “I hope you realize that having kids may undo what you just had done!”

I am not anti-plastic surgery. In fact, I strongly suspect that my husband will need some form of it post-gastric-bypass. And some days, I would love to sign up for a tummy-tuck. But then I wonder if I would be setting my daughter up to think that a jiggly tummy post-babies is “bad” or “needs to be fixed.”  I am proud of my body and the way it was able to nourish and carry these two little ones for so long. But it doesn’t mean I want to be reminded of that difficult pregnancy every single day!

I am curious as to your thoughts. Do you think having plastic surgery is “selfish?” Have you had a tummy tuck? Do you feel that you need/want one? Do you plan on having one? Does your “twin skin” keep you from feeling “normal,” or do you simply see it as a natural occurrence that is to be lived with? Your thoughts on this matter would be greatly appreciated!

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19 thoughts on “Battle Wounds or Burden?”

  1. Beautiful topic. I do not think that there is anything wrong with plastic surgery and consider it a personal choice all about making yourself happy.

    For me myself, I am torn. I have days when I want to fix this twin skin and be able to wear a bikini again, to get a boob job and replace the lost glory of my pre-baby breasts. But then I have days when I believe in being proud of how I look. All of the world, throughout time and across all cultures, this is something that we share as mothers. It is a natural tattoo of my experience, it tells my story in many ways. Just like when my body started to change at age 30 and I decided to accept it and love it, I feel like I should also accept and love this change.

  2. Definitely a personal choice. :)

    I know I can’t afford plastic surgery, so I don’t even consider it…that and my husband is *VERY* good about telling me that I’m beautiful – no matter what I look like (and he actually sounds like he means it! LOL) so that helps a lot.

    I can’t blame my tummy on the twins because I lost a *lot* of the weight while nursing them. . . I CAN blame (at least some of it) on my 3rd child though.

    I suppose I have to credit my eating habits as well…I LOVE food. Can’t…stop…eating…

    Great topic!

  3. I don’t think having plastic surgery is selfish in the conditions you described. Affording the surgery is another matter entirely! One thing I have always wanted is a breast reduction. (I have DDs that are really probably more like DDDs or whatever is the next highest size, and they give me so much back pain when I exercise).

    But I wanted to be smart and not have a reduction surgery until after having children because I don’t want to have to do it more than once.
    :) Becky
    http://stinkylemsky.typepad.com/

  4. Like the other readers, I think plastic surgery is a personal choice. I was blessed and lucky that my body rebounded, but if I had twinskin and it bothered me, I would consider having a tummy tuck. I find I am happiest when I am comfortable in my body.

    Having said all that, there’s a woman at my pool with singletons and she has twinskin. And she is out there every single day in a bikini. I think it’s amazing she can be so brave and send the message that this is what women’s bodies look like after pregnancy. But I don’t know if I could be that brave!

    PS. One of my good friends IRL had gastric bypass.. she recently wrote about it here:
    http://heathervinson.blogspot.com/2008/06/happy-birthday-to-me.html

  5. I hear you, I’m totally tempted by the idea of a tummy tuck at some point. That said, I still have a ton of weight to lose, and can’t really justify the tuck unless I’ve held up my end of the bargain, you know? But if I do manage it… I’ll totally consider it.

  6. Me, Me, Me! I have it. My problem though since having my twins 20 months ago is that I cant find jeans or shorts that fit properly. We are going on vacation the end of the month and was looking for shorts and I was having a heck of a time. On a good side, i did find some great clearance deals on clothes for the twins. haha

    Back on topic, if I could afford it i would get a tummy tuck and maybe some lipo on my thighs and butt area. It seems that I have lost most of my weight from the twins and the tummy area is just extra skin but I retained weight on my butt and thighs. I gained 75 pounds in a 35 week pregnancy. OUCH!

  7. What a great topic! Thank you for helping me think through some of these things myself. I keep thinking of all the extra flesh in my midsection as pure fat, but of course, some of it is extra skin (though I was very lucky not to get stretch marks). It makes me feel uncomfortable, and I feel as though I have lost all muscle in that region and even after 22 months, it is not back. But I also feel as though exercise (when I have time) will address it to some degree, and to me, plastic surgery is probably not the route I will go. I think everyone has to do what works for them, though, and I wouldn’t judge others.

  8. GREAT POST!

    Having finally lost 42lbs and now even below my normal weight, i’m definitely leaning TOWARDS plastic surgery. I was up to almost 200lbs with my first daughter, a singleton. Then i went down to about 140 and back up to 200 with the twins. My body is not pretty anymore. Looking at me, you’d never know what’s underneath my cute little short shorts i can finally wear again. But when i look at myself in the mirror(in my bday suit) i hate it. I LOVE my battle scar(c-section), which is below my bikini line. Only because i can show it to my 4 year old and don’t have to go any further into details about how the babies came out. :) BUT, when i look at my marshmellow for a belly, it makes me sad.

    SO, Plastic surgery is definitely on my list of “things to do” one day when we are out of diapers and in a smaller more affordable house and the kids are in public schools. My hubby is in total agreement with me doing it too. He said as long as i got the weight off i could get a tummy tuck, some lipo on my cottage cheese legs and a boob lift(my boobs look like sandbags after 2 pregnancies). Now, i DO NOT want to look like a barbie doll…i just want to feel good about myself. And to be quite honest, i don’t think there is anything wrong with doing things to feel good about yourself.

    Thanks for sharing your story.
    Good luck with your hubbies surgery!

  9. Great topic. I’d love to hear from someone who has had a tummy tuck and how it worked out for them. On most days, I am SO scared that something would go wrong during the surgery and I hate to risk that because of vanity. On other days, I realize that it’s not just vanity. My clothes don’t fit, it’s uncomfortable, and like post said, I just want to look normal. So maybe that is vanity, I’m not sure. I’ve got the episode of Jon and Kate plus 8 recorded where she had her tummy tuck and I watch it from time to time. I’ve told myself that I’ll lose the remaining 10-15 lbs, then give it another year or so to see if things “snap back” any further. I don’t need to wear a bikini, I just don’t want to be mortified if my shirt slips up a little bit in public! :-)

  10. I also wanted to mention that there is an article in the latest US weekly with Jennifer Lopez in a bikini after having her twins! Talk about kicking me while I’m down. :-) I’m SO tired of seeing articles about how celebrities snap right back into shape after babies. Gag!

  11. I would totally do this. I do not consider this a selfish act. After enduring a twin pregnancy (or any pregnancy for that matter) your body is never the same. If you can afford a procedure like this, and you have someone to help with the kids, go for it.

    Re: Shelley’s comment—i’m with you there. damn celebrities.

  12. Ah, photos of celebrities post twins. Did anyone see the one of Angelina Jolie pregnant? I’m happy to see that, like the rest of us, she is the size of a house. Not even very pretty celebrities can look elegant carrying multiples!

    I say, if you are really uphappy with something, like twinskin, then go for it! It’s fine to be ok with the battle scars of a twin pregnancy, but if you’re not, fixing it is fine too. While I don’t have trouble with twin skin (although things are certainlly a little “looser” there) my belly button will certainly never be the same. It’s the end of the bikini line for me! Since I wasn’t that into a two piece before, I’m ok with it but others in the same situation might not be.

    Interesting post…..

  13. It’s totally selfish, no doubt about it. But, I’m not sure why that is a problem. I’ve given up most every single private space in my home in the past two years to my two sets of multiples; I’ve given up all of my free time; I’ve given up my sleep. The rewards are tremendous, but they do tend to be child-centered. I look forward to the day I get a tummy tuck, and I tuck away money a little at a time in order to do it. My body is incredible for what it has been through, but I’d love my clothes to fit correctly too.

  14. I have the same “battle” in my mind from time to time about “fixing” my tummy. I absolutely hate the way it looks, even though I am extremely proud that my body was able to carry two babies to 39 wks 5 days and a combined weight of 14.5 pounds. My tummy used to be the body part that was never an issue and now that it’s the most prominent issue on my body it’s hard to “stomach” (pun intended). But I still don’t know if I could go through surgery, I was devastated when I had to have a c-section so I could never see myself choosing to have an elective surgery no matter how badly I would love the results of it. And like others mentioned I have 3 daughters to think about how my decision would effect the way they see not just my body but perhaps their own one day. It’s a lot of pressure really. Since I am most likely not done having babies I have no intentions of even considering it at this point in time but I don’t know how I will feel about it in yars to come, my twins are just 13 months, maybe I’ll get used to it???

  15. I wish I had the money to get my twin skin fixed and back to “normal.” Before the girls were born I always complained about my body. Now I look at photos and remember in my head of what my stomach looked like and how perky my boobs were and I WISH I could have that body again. But I wear my “battle scars” proudly. I have two beautiful girls to show for it (they were combined weight of 12 lbs. 10 oz., I gained a total of 38 pounds and lost it all and then some in the first three weeks). But nothing is the same anymore. None of my pre twin clothes fit – everything has shifted which is frustrating. But I can live with it all – I just wish I had the money to get the belly fixed!!!! And a few weeks worth of total bed rest is looking pretty darn good right about now since my girls are 20 months old!!!!

  16. Great post, Krissy!

    I’ve got the good ol’ twinskin and it ain’t pretty! If we had an extra $10K laying around, I would certainly get a little tuck (for the tummy) and a lift for the boobs.

    Like the commenter (Susan) said, it’s totally selfish…but don’t we deserve it when we’ve been 100% selfLESS for such a long time?

    If it’ll make you happy and feel better about yourself, why not? Like the old adage…if mama ain’t happy, there ain’t nobody happy!

  17. I agree with Shelley! I would love to have it done, but I worry if something awful would happen because I was worried about my appearance.

    My twins were only 7 lbs 5 oz. combined, but my twin skin was bad, and then I got pregnant again six months later, so that didn’t help, I’m sure! I’m probably a few pounds lighter than my first pre-pregnancy weight, but my stomach is definitely poochier! I always had a little pooch that I hated, but now I long for that small, smooth pouch in contrast to the bumpy, loose, and larger pooch! I’ve also read that there’s always a little pooch left after a c-section that you can’t lose even with diet and exercise! Great!

    I’m not done having children, but maybe when I am, if I can ever afford to pay cash, I’ll have a tummy tuck! Fortunately, I know a great plastic surgeon, since my youngest was born with a cleft lip/palate! If he’s good enough for my son, then he’s definitely good enough for me!

    Thanks for the post! Now I know I’m not alone. None of my singleton mom friends have this issue! And like Shelley, I don’t want to wear a bikini either! I just don’t want to be embarrassed if my shirt slips up either!

  18. I used to think that plastic surgery was selfish, but have changed my tune for a number of reasons. My neighbour had her breasts enlarged and is much more confident as a result. My daughter may need plastic surgery to correct a congenital facial condition. And I feel so ugly due to my twin belly (although I weigh what I did in college) that I can’t bear for my husband to touch me. I don’t think that plastic surgery is the solution for me, but who am I to judge others. You change the outside to feel better inside, right, or to keep people from judging you?

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