Feeling guilty at the thought of a tummy tuck?
I am fortunate to have four healthy, beautiful, spoilt children. I could talk about how amazing motherhood is and the wonderful joy of having children forever.
There are cool stories about how cute babies are and how lucky we are when everything aligns perfectly, and a couple conceives.
BUT, I’d rather vent about five unspoken facts:
Fact 1 – Not all mums bounce back to their pre-baby body (hold your gasps to the end…)
Fact 2 – Voluptuous milk-filled breasts may give you the cleavage you always desired, but once that milk’s gone so is the cleavage (sometimes leaving stretch marks to remind you of that lost cleavage).
Fact 3 – The final trimester is tough. One of the most common annoyances is frequently needing to urgently urinate, but for some, this feeling doesn’t go away. Ever.
Fact 4 – Sit ups do not fix separated abdominal muscles (in fact, it can sometimes make them worse).
Fact 5 – Haemorrhoids are a physical reminder of the day you pushed a watermelon through a donut (added this for shock value – feel free to gasp now!)
How many mums post thousands of selfies with their kids because they’re just not ready to share the rest of their body?
As a mum, you live on little sleep, which often leads to eating late at night or snacking on quick-fix comfort foods.
Mums rarely do anything alone, kids literally follow you to the toilet and stand at the shower door. With no real downtime, this can result in a slight lack of patience (mums around the world, you know what I mean).
Many mums live in exercise attire, yet their exercise routine consists of cleaning the house, doing the shopping, and managing the monotonous mountain of washing.
It takes a lot of perseverance and resilience to be a mum.
Yet despite all the sacrifices, there is an overwhelming sense of guilt and judgment when a mum decides to do something for herself, especially if she decides to get a tummy tuck.
I am one such mum.
A tummy tuck is not simply aesthetic, a tummy tuck repairs damage and restores function. For me, fixing separated abdominal muscles and a hernia can only be achieved through surgery.
Knowing this and writing this does not make me feel better about spending my family’s hard-earned money. Money that could be spent on a holiday, extra-curricular activities or painting the house.
Listen: The Mamamia Out Loud team discuss a $60,000 Melania Trump makeover. Post continues after audio.
Is it selfish for a mum to have a tummy tuck?
I had my first child in my twenties, I bounced back with no problems. My breasts were never the same but it was nothing a push-up bra couldn’t hide.
For my second child, I was in my late twenties and again bounced back, not as easily but I was back in my pre-baby jeans within weeks.
My third child, I was in my early thirties and things went all downhill, I struggled with my stomach and breasts. My self-confidence plummeted.
The final nail in the coffin was number four. Baby number four sealed my fate.
By number four, my body was not compliant and losing weight was near impossible.
I have become accustomed to the aftermath of birth and accepted the many discomforts – both aesthetic and functional.
Without appropriate sleep, good food and some time for exercising, it’s inevitable that you stack the weight on.
My belly is not through lack of trying, I have tried step classes, spin classes, Bikram yoga, pump classes and every diet known to man, and I still look like I’m pregnant.
My youngest loves laying on my belly if we have a movie night and he refers to me as “soft and squishy”.
When all else fails, sometimes the only answer is a tummy tuck.
For some women the issue is excess skin because of having babies, this definitely requires surgical intervention.
This issue or sag is something which mostly bothers people monthly, but when the warmer months come, I am upset every second day.
If I’m not internally judging myself, I get the random comment from loved ones: “when did you start wearing your mum’s costumes?” or “mum, do you have another baby?" Ugh. I’ve even had strangers ask me “how far along are you?"
You may ask, why haven’t I seen someone about this? Why do I suffer in silence as the world goes by? Well, that’s what mums do. We are conditioned to put our needs last, we feel guilty when we indulge, and we spend all our money on our kids.
But I decided to see a plastic surgeon. I went to see Dr. Laith Barnouti and he was lovely. I am positive he could sense my reluctance as he kept the exposed belly time to a minimum.
Dr. Barnouti was incredibly reassuring, I truly felt comfortable and confident he could work his magic on my tummy – fixing my hernia and separated abdomen.
What Dr. Barnouti was firm on the aftercare. This is my downfall. I explained my children often hop into bed with bed, lay on me, suffocate me. It was clear I could not bend (how do I do bath time?), I could not stretch (who is going to hang clothes on the line?) and I must rest for at least two weeks (I told him, can’t my hospital stay be rest and the anaesthetic a good sleep? He did not laugh in agreeance).
Choosing to have major surgery whilst you still have a young family to care for is a massive decision. Your young children don’t care if you have had surgery when they want to be picked up (more so they don’t understand the consequences).
The world around you must somehow continue to roll forward whilst you are recovering.
After getting over the guilt of thinking about doing something for yourself, you still need to find a surgeon you can trust.
Ads on Facebook pop up all the time for cheap tummy tucks but who’s performing the procedure, is it being done in accredited facilities and what is the follow up post-surgery care like? All these considerations and concerns were met with ease by Dr. Barnouti.
The results of surgery are not simply aesthetic, women aren’t out to go from soccer mum to supermodel. We as women want to reclaim our pride in our appearance and restore our inner confidence.
There is no need to justify. No good comes from guilt and there’s no time for regret. But the struggle is real.
I would love to escape the mayhem and make the old me no longer a distant memory.
My challenge is not simply the obvious (financial) – my biggest hurdle is time.
Who will watch the children, can I be a compliant patient? And the fear, if I do lift and run around to maintain the household, is what terrible infection or scar will I be left with? This has made me realise that finding a surgeon and finances is only half the battle.
If I could simply take two – six weeks off and recover, I’d be on the operating table at the next availability. But knowing in my gut my four-year-old needs to be lifted out of the bath and my kids need their taxi, I have no choice. I must live out another summer and wait until I know I can be a compliant patient.