All along in all of my three pregnancies, I hoped for vaginal births. I prepared for the first one, planned it out, wrote a birth plan, the whole deal. But a 21-hour labor, a baby coming out sideways and a drop in heart rate for both of us led to an emergency Cesarean section. Though I wished for VBACs (vaginal birth after C-section) for the other two, further complications led to C-sections. Each time, the doctor went into the same scar to get my girls out. Now, I have a large scar across my midsection and the inevitable "C-section flap' that accompanies it.
No matter how much weight I lose or how many sit ups I do, I seem to have this flap of skin that overlaps right at my scar. I suppose it's from the stretch of skin from the pregnancies being cut and not having the ability to smooth back out. I used to not like it. Even at my thinnest, I still had it, and when I got dressed I always had the little bulge in the front. I used to feel like I would never have a perfect body or figure again just because of this. I used to cry over it. I really did. I would look in the mirror and pull and tug at it, trying to get it smoother and, inevitably, tear up at the knowledge that it would be there the rest of my life.
I researched reconstructive surgery, wore a tummy band across trying to smooth it out and complained to anyone who would listen. I even went through a phase where I would not wear a bathing suit because I hated "the flap."
But now, as a mom of three beautiful, growing daughters, I have learned to love it. I admire the shape my body has taken, even with the little excess weight that I am battling now, which causes the flap to be more pronounced. It bugs me when the band of my underwear gets caught under it, but it also reminds me of the three babies that arrived safely. It bothers me that I will never have a flat tummy, but it is my badge of honor as a mom. I can't stand that that I have to lift it to clean the scar in the shower, but it conjures memories of looking down and seeing a swollen belly with a baby girl inside.
In fact, I love it so much that when my girls see me walking around the house in underwear and they ask, I sit down and explain how they came out and how that flap is the most beautiful thing on my body. Because without it, I would not be their mom.
Women have enough body image issues with the Photoshopping and the airbrushing of women in magazines. I admit I have a hard time looking at the Hollywood stars who walk onto talk shows six weeks after birth looking like they never had a baby. As a single mom, it's a little scary to think of a potential new man seeing this and being turned off by it.
But in the end, it is a constant reminder of the lives that grew in me. The hearts outside of my body that now run to the school bus, backpacks too large for them, smiling and waving goodbye at me.
It is a true blessing because it gave me the title "mom" that I cherish every moment of every day. That is what makes me beautiful and proud to be the permanent owner of an amazing C-section flap.
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