It’s a typical Thursday afternoon. I’m peeling off my sweaty gym clothes after an intense hour of circuit training, running, and weightlifting. My Polar FT4 watch tells me I’ve burned 654 calories, and I won’t argue. I’m beat, I’m sore, and I’m over it.
I turn on the shower and consider my frame in the full-length bathroom mirror. I can’t deny that my routine is paying off: My arms and legs are more defined, my backside is higher, and somehow (thank the Lord) my boobs have survived breastfeeding and gravity. I try to see the positive side of my efforts, but in the middle of the mirror, my mangled postpartum torso offers up a fresh “fuck you,” and the tears of frustration begin to flow.
Little Mister is nearing his 2nd birthday (pass the tissues, please), and I have come to the realization that I can’t stare defeat in the mirror for much longer. My literal blood and sweat hasn’t led to the change I crave, and it’s time to say it: I want a tummy tuck.
I’m not alone in my decision. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons’ annual report, 123,003 women received tummy tucks in 2015 – not surprising given the pressure to regain our pre-baby figures at lightning speed.
I’m fortunate to have a husband and close friends who support me, but I’ve also come across a few Debbie Downers who consider it vain and frivolous and are more than happy to explain why a tummy tuck is a bad idea:
1. “You’ll lose the pooch if you exercise more.”
Let me break it down for you: In addition to a healthy diet, I work out at least four times a week, burning 600-plus calories per session. I’ve done cardio, strength training, Pilates, HIIT and everything in between. No matter how many hours and how many reps, the war zone that once carried a 22-inch, 8-pound child won’t budge. It turns out that my 5-foot frame wasn’t meant to carry a linebacker without some consequences, and I’ve got a problem even Jillian Michaels can’t fix.
2. “It’s too expensive.”
Really? Not according to my calculations. The average cost of a full tummy tuck in the U.S. is $5,493. Sure, it’s a pricey choice that my family needs to plan for, but it’s economical compared to replacing a closet of clothes I still can’t wear, personal training sessions, 472 bottles of “firming” lotion that did absolutely nothing, and the therapy I’ll need if I have to think about this asinine topic for much longer. I could argue that you can’t put a price on peace of mind, but if we’re talking long-term dollar-for-dollar values, a tummy tuck isn’t an outrageous option.
3. “Surgery is dangerous.”
True, but it’s no more dangerous than the mandatory C-section required for baby No. 2, and no one seems overly concerned about that. In fact, I’ve been called selfish for deciding to stop at one kid despite a surgeon’s warning that another pregnancy could actually kill me. “But the risk is so worth it!” they say. Mmkay. Tummy tuck or not, I think I’ll listen to my doctor’s advice and stick around for the baby I already have.
4. “You’ll lose time with your family.”
Tummy tuck recovery time averages four to six weeks, but gaining time is actually the main reason behind my choice. At the moment, I can’t chase my son around the playground without feeling the painful tug of jeans against my torso. I would love to sign up for baby swim classes, but I can’t bring myself to shop for a new swimsuit. You won’t find me in many candid photos, and I’m sick of feeling like a ghost. I want to be emotionally present for my son; I want to throw on a pair of jeans and a T-shirt and just go. I don’t want him to look back and wonder why Mom always seemed uncomfortable, and if a tummy tuck can achieve that outcome, sign me up.
5. “You should learn to love yourself.”
I completely agree. Self-esteem is a huge part of being an effective parent and an effective human in general. But let me ask you this: Do you think sporty women don’t love themselves? How about intelligent women who also value personal appearance? Moreover, what about men who embody the same traits? These people love themselves because they make positive choices about their physical and intellectual beings, and healthy self-esteem is often a combination of personality, confidence, and physical appearance. My Type-A personality seeks solutions as a form of self-care, and loving myself means understanding what I need to feel secure and focused.
Motherhood is the best and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done, and I don’t want to miss anything by suffering in silent martyrdom. I may not be able to crunch my way back to comfort, but I’m strong enough to recognize that it’s time for a change. So maybe I’ll keep plugging away at my workouts and hope a miracle occurs. Then again, maybe I’ll schedule surgery tomorrow.
Whatever my decision, I refuse to sit on the chopping block of judgment along the way, and neither should you. If you’re in a similar position, don’t feel bad if someone calls you frivolous or lazy. Maybe pregnancy damaged your body. Maybe you’re tired of fighting a battle you can’t win. Or maybe, like me, you just want to throw on a T-shirt and go.