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Allowing Yourself to be Vulnerable: A Mother's Perspective

Updated: Jun 21, 2022

I can’t believe it but it’s true – I got a tummy tuck. I’m 4 days post op and am starting to get excited about the thought of not looking like I’m pregnant anymore! It was a big decision to make, both financially and physically since I won’t be able to lift my toddler for a few weeks and need to be cautious about everything that I do, but it’s almost empowering to have taken this big step in finally doing something for me, and not for anyone else. As mothers, self-sacrifice is a daily habit that doesn’t ever seem to leave us, no matter how hard we try. We just can’t help but put our children’s needs before ours. That’s sort of the definition of motherhood in a way, isn’t it? And as much as we try to convince ourselves that that isn’t the case, time and time again we are proven wrong. Once the kids are finally settled in bed, we tell ourselves ‘YIPPEE!! Now it’s ME time!’ but before we know it, we’ve dragged ourselves to the nearest couch or upstairs to bed to rest and reflect on the chaos of the day that just occurred. Sure, it would be nice to open up my journal and write down happy memories from the day, or sit down and phone a friend, or work out in the basement and sweat out the day’s events, but quite honestly, it usually ends up with me just turning the lights off and crashing to recuperate from another exhaustive day. Often times I find myself laying down, exhausted, stewing over and over in my head of all the things I wanted to accomplish, and yet don’t seem to have the time – or energy to do so. Here comes the mom guilt creeping up again.

Postpartum support

I had a big decision to make, one that could have risky implications. So I didn’t rush my decision; I continued with implementing the recommended lifestyle improvements both nutritionally and physically for about 6 months. Christmas came and went, and I still was not satisfied with my results. Sure, my energy level improved and overall I felt better exercising and staying fit, but my protruded belly was still there. In fact, I swear it became more noticeable over time as my body slimmed down. I’m not a doctor so I can’t make sense of it, and for all I know it’s all in my head, but that darn mom belly seemed to just always be there. One could argue that I was just being overly critical of my altered body image, but I live with myself and myself only, and eventually something’s got to give. I couldn’t ignore it any longer. I tried telling myself that I am beautiful no matter what, that I am grateful for having been able to carry a baby in the first place, and that this is just a side effect that many women suffer post pregnancy. But regardless of how many times I tried to convince myself through positive self-talk that this is proof of how strong I am as a woman, and that I should be proud that I am still healthy, I couldn’t shake the feeling of frustration that this ‘mom belly’ may never go away. So I carefully weighed all the pros and cons of getting surgery done, and came to the conclusion that either way, my body is my own and no one can decide except for me.

Three months later, here I am, post op and feeling great. Sure, the post op pain isn’t exactly a walk in the park, but I know this is only temporary, and each day I am that much closer to achieving my goal to loving what I see in the mirror again. I know the results take time and the healing process is gradual (6-8 weeks on average), but I am proud that I weighed all options, tried the alternative treatments, and pre-planned my post op recovery phase to be as seamless as possible by arranging family to stay with me in advance, having my parents assist with child care, buying lots of groceries pre-surgery, taking adequate time off work (doctor recommends 3 weeks) to ensure that I get adequate rest especially in the early days.

I have to give a shout out to my brother, because without him, my post op recovery would have been way more difficult. Not only was he was there to drop me off and pick me up, drive me to my follow up appointments, make me meals, help me with transferring in/out of the bed or couch (basically anytime I sat or laid down), walk my dog, but the #1 thing that made me feel like a million bucks post op was when he helped wash my hair! Sounds cheesy I know, but wow what a difference it made! That moment was the first time I can honestly say I felt like myself again post operatively. It’s funny how the little things become big things, but that moment really put things in perspective for me. I learned that by putting yourself first, you are taking a risk because it puts you in a position of vulnerability; But by allowing yourself to be vulnerable, it opens the door for other opportunities to present themselves, which is an unexpected win. In my case, accepting help from loved ones while doing what I felt was best for me, allowed me to witness the power of love from a different perspective – the perspective of being the person being cared for, instead of being the caregiver, which is the familiar role of us mothers. So regardless of whether you’re like me, staring in the mirror thinking ‘Gosh, I’d really like to change a, b, or c’, remember that there are likely many unexpected wins you’ve already accomplished and some that might be waiting for you right around the corner!

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