I’m a nurse, so I knew what it meant when I saw those two bubbles on the ultrasound screen. Twins run in my family, but you never think it’s going to happen to you. My husband and I were so shocked that we just cracked up laughing.
I won’t lie: My pregnancy was rough. I had hyperemesis gravidarum, a severe type of nausea and vomiting, that was so extreme I couldn’t keep anything down and lost more than 20 pounds. They told me to drink milkshakes, eat cheeseburgers—anything to get calories. Although the babies were developing normally, I felt like something was wrong with my stomach. At my regular appointments, I kept telling my doctors, “I feel like my stomach is ripping and the babies are going to come right through my belly button.” They kept saying I was fine. At long last, when I was nine months pregnant, I delivered two healthy full-term boys after three hours of pushing. When they put my precious babies on my chest, one at a time, it was incredible. The coolest thing in the world.
But the day after I gave birth I realized something was still wrong. I looked down at my stomach and saw movement there. The connective tissue between my ab muscles had split so far apart that you could see my colon moving beneath my skin. I freaked out! I went to physical therapy but didn’t get much better. I couldn’t lift my babies without feeling pain. I had sciatica in my back. My abdomen felt like Jell-O, and the skin was crisscrossed by stretch marks. After I returned to work, patients kept asking me when I was due. That got old quick.
When the boys were 5 months old, I consulted a plastic surgeon, who took a close look and diagnosed me with multiple hernias and severe diastasis recti. He said my fascia was “like Swiss cheese.” I scheduled tummy-tuck and abdominal wall-reconstruction surgery immediately. The procedure would repair the internal damage and add a mesh liner to replace the fascia and remove all the excess skin.
I moved in with my parents for ten days so they could take care of me while my husband cared for the boys at home. Due to the complexity of my surgery, I wasn’t allowed to lift for six weeks. I went through a stage of regretting having it done. I felt helpless and guilty. But a year later, I’m happy I did it. Most of my pain is gone. I can play with the boys again.
Though I have scars and stretch marks, I feel confident in my body. I think it’s important to feel good about yourself to be a good mom.