Like a lot of moms, I have been struggling to accept my post-baby body. Basically, I didn’t accept it. Instead I’ve been dieting and exercising in an attempt to unearth the old me hidden beneath the layers of allowed pregnancy cravings, exhaustion, stress-eating and breastfeeding hunger. I’ve been eating clean 90% of the time and extremely disciplined about exercising at least 5 days a week and yet, this stubborn bulge remained in the middle of my belly. What gives?
I met with my doctor because it didn’t feel like just fat. Its not as squishy as fat. She informed me that I actually have diastasis recti, a condition in which your abdominal muscles split open down the middle, creating a gap that allows your innards to poke out. Its why I perpetually look like I’m about 3 months pregnant. My last child just totally blew through my abs. According to my doctor, no amount of dieting is going to fix that nonsense. She says targeted exercise can help tighten it some but for the most part I’m stuck with it.
Awesome. Lately I have been working on accepting the things that I cannot change, as well as some of the things that are really hard that are ridiculous to stress about. I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself to be a certain way as a mother, wife, professional, etcetera. Having a completely flat stomach might need to fall into that category of accepting the things that I can’t change. The internet is full of “do these exercises and it will be good as new” as well as “every exercise you do will make it worse” and “surgery is the only option to fix it” so basically nothing is helpful. The most realistic advice came from my cousin, “Poke your insides back in through the hole and put on a corset.” Not a bad solution under clothes but tucking my parts inside of me like a drag queen in a leotard doesn’t help with how I feel about my naked body. I’d like to look good naked. Between my belly bulge and the little foldover flesh fanny pack from my c-section, Frankenbelly is probably here to stay.
My best bikini days are officially behind me. My abs are shot. I’m like a sliced tire. My abs need to be eulogized because they are dead.
Flat Smooth Abdominals 1997-2019
Flat Smooth Abdominals, or Abs for short, really came into this world as an entity of her own sometime in my high school years. In her youth she was supportive and never shied away from Pepsi and Hostess cupcakes as they had no effect on her ability to stay completely flat without any exercise whatsoever. In our senior year of high school, Abs and I went to prom and had the most beautiful night. She was a sight to behold.
Through our college years she often came out to parties and was always present at beach vacations. She was really amazing to me during the super low rise years of the early 2000’s and I didn’t appreciate her enough. She was never ripped with a six pack. But she didn’t need to be. We were happy. It was a simpler time.
In our mid-twenties she carried our first child with the utmost grace. She brought forth life and helped make me a mother. She didn’t take much time at all to get back to herself with a little effort and discipline. Nothing crazy. It wasn’t until our late 20s that I began to be very hard on her. Any little bit of softness on her behalf was met with anger and torture. I berated her frequently as I did not know the jewel she truly was. She didn’t come out in public anymore, unless we were at a pool or beach, but under many body slimming dresses and tight shirts, everyone knew she was there. She grew softer, and we struggled a little but her flatness was still evident.
In our mid-thirties, she carried two more beautiful babies, the last of which would be her undoing. I regret the times I didn’t love her the way that I should. She should have seen the sun more. I wish I had the version of her back that I thought wasn’t good enough at the time. Life is fleeting. I would have worn more crops tops rather than thinking I was too old at the tender age of 28. May Abs rest in peace. Gone far too soon.