Reconstructive Surgery or Vanity?

I never considered myself to be vain. Growing up as an overweight child my self-esteem was shot. I envied the thin and pretty girls who got to play sports and were popular while I sat on the sofa watching TV eating a bag of chips wallowing in self-pity. If a boy told me I was pretty then that was all I needed to be “in love” with him. I craved acceptance in a world that was cruelly stingy about giving it to a chubby girl.

Things just got worse after marrying my first husband (at 17) who was both emotionally and physically abusive. He made me feel like everything was my fault. My self-hatred became so bad that I and attempted suicide. When I was 18 my appendix ruptured which left me with a huge 6″ scar down the front of my abdomen which made me even more self-conscious about my body. The bonus after being in the hospital for recovery for several weeks was that I was able to squeeze into a size 10 pair of pants for about 30 seconds.

After I left my first husband, I began to read self-help books that helped me regain my confidence. I started exercising regularly and finally found an eating plan that was working for me because I was losing weight. Two seconds later I found the man of my dream who loved and respected me and best of all, thought I was gorgeous! Well, two seconds after that I was pregnant.

My first son was breech so it was decided that I needed to have a c-section. We asked the Dr. if she could use the same vertical incision instead of create a new one. She did and tried to pull the skin closer together to make the scar not so wide but it didn’t heal that way. To make matters worse, I now had my muscles cut vertically and horizontally (internal). I decided to have another c-section with my 2nd child because I was not so sure about having a VBAC. I was informed by the Dr. that I had accumulated a lot of scar tissue in my abdomen from my first two abdominal surgeries and when I had my gall bladder removed a couple years ago, that Dr. had to go in twice to try to cut through the layers of flab and scar tissue to get to my organ!

So, now here I was a frumpy and frazzled housewife, mother of two who didn’t give a flip about my appearance. I was over 200lbs, depressed and unhealthy. I didn’t take care of myself and my relationships with other people suffered because I just wanted to hide in my house. After my liver started giving me trouble I realized that my gall bladder problems were just a warning sign of something worse going on in my body and I could not afford to lose my liver. On Mother’s Day 2010 I sat down with a pen and journal and wrote down how I DESERVE to take care of myself. I was WORTH it and my family would benefit from having a healthy mom rather than a sad and sick one. Does that make me vain?

One year later, I have lost almost 70lbs. I dropped from a size 18/20 to a 4/6. I lost a size and a half in shoes and unfortunately a cup size in my bra :o) All of my health concerns have disappeared. I am full of energy and my endurance is amazing. There is however one drawback. After you have lost a lot of weight, especially if you yo-yo diet and stretch the skin multiple times, you’re going to end up with loose skin. I have it sagging under my arms and on my thighs and buttocks but where I see it the most is in my stomach. My stomach looks like a ball of ABC bubble gum. The worse part is…I can NEVER work it off. Not only is it loose skin but underneath is a bed of scar tissue that exercise can’t work off.

I’ve been the same weight now for six months. I’ve been doing P90X plus working out at the gym at least 2 hours per day. I have been tracking my calories on an almost completely RAW vegan, gluten-free diet and kept within 1600 cal. per day average. Even though I am dropping dress sizes, my measurements are the same and my tummy jiggles like I’m carrying a bag of jello under my shirt every time I workout! After much Internet research I have found many other moms struggle with the same thing. The stomach muscles were severed, the body was stretched out and everything has been out of place since post baby. So I thought…I’m just going to have to live with it. Or do I?

My husband and I talked about what we would do someday if we won the lottery. Always first on my list was, TUMMY TUCK! Recently my husband was asking, “Why wait?”. For one, it is extraordinarily expensive, I would be in recovery for about a month, and a broad host of other scary “what if” scenarios could occur. If I was going to really do it eventually…someday…when the planets align or we win a billion dollars then I may as well say “never”. So, why wait? Honestly my worst fear is that people would think I am vain or a fraud or a cheat!

I spent my whole life caring too much about what other people think about me. For once in my life this decision should have NOTHING to do what people will think of me. This has to do with what I think of me. I have gained so much confidence and strength by having a wonderfully supportive husband who wants me to love and take care of myself that he wants me to see on the outside how much work I have put into fixing up the inside. Should I just settle for knowing that this body will be as good as it gets or can I opt for a little “reconstructive surgery” to fix it?

I’m not saying that I will never look in the mirror and have a problem with a sag here or a wrinkle there because I’m sure, like every woman on the planet, I will do this. But I am not the type to buy expensive face creams or even wears very much make-up. I’ve never cared THAT much about how I look to others in public. I care about how I look to ME in the mirror every morning and to my husband every night and I want my kids to have a happy, confident, active mom. If YOU think that is vanity, then so be it. I will just continue to do my best and forget the rest 🙂

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