What’s up with the radio silence?, nobody has asked. Too bad, I’ll tell you.
Backstory: Against all rational thought and cautionary tales from friends, family, and people on the Internet, I had three children. The first one caused a huge stretching of the belly, which, although it didn’t exactly “snap” back into place, it came pretty darn close. Comparatively. The second one caused another huge stretching of the belly, and decided to manifest itself in small stretch marks where my belly button ring had been, and also a slight — but unnoticeable to a non-medical professional — umbilical hernia. The third one, who coincidentally also has red hair, rent my rectus abdominus asunder to the extent that it the two halves have still not migrated back together (and she’s TWO), and encouraged the umbilical hernia to progress to the point that whenever I sat up, laughed, or even breathed, my intestines would leap forth and try to escape my body through my bellybutton…resulting in terrible discomfort, but mostly an outie.
SO….I had an umbilical hernia repair (I call it a herniectomy*) at the end of November, so (and this was written in January) I’ve been unable to do anything, and can’t lift more than 10 lbs… note that Tamsin weighs considerably more than that, especially when she’s mad. Chris, knowing that he somehow booked travel only 2 1/2 days after my surgery (!!!) (again) (!!!) taught Vaughn how to help Tamsin out of her crib, and figured that I’d be fine.
I was actually excited for the surgery – aside from being in constant discomfort, having an outie, and spending nights whining about the discomfort and the outie, I was looking forward to checking into the hospital, lying around in a gown for a while, then being drugged until I passed out quietly, and napping away the rest of the day, while my organs could technically be being harvested, and I wouldn’t mind at all. In my mind, it was like going to a day spa in the 70s. A shady one, I suppose, but a spa nonetheless. (See also, Mother of 3.)
I had a hard time falling asleep the night before my appointment, and I woke up the morning of the surgery with a very sore throat. I was SO upset – the literature said that they wouldn’t operate if I was sick. I didn’t want to reschedule again**, after organizing my life, finding subs for my class, and filling out paper forms for sick leave from work. But mostly because I viewed it as a vacation and no damn sore throat was going to take away my vacation! But I went in, put on my fashionable gowns (one on front, one on back), climbed onto my gurney, got covered up with two nice, warm blankets, and…had a nap for three hours. In the middle of the day. It was just what I needed. I felt completely decadent, until I started getting hungry.
The surgery was only three hours behind schedule, and I was eventually taken by wheelchair into the operating room. Everyone was friendly and funny,*** and I only had a few (prolonged) fears about my mortality as I hopped on up onto the cross-shaped table and had my arms strapped down. I’m always nervous when they put me under, but as usual, when they had me breathe deeply into the mask, I remember giggling, and maybe even trying to say, “wheeee!”, as everything swirled happily around me…
I woke up with a breathing tube being “gently” removed from my throat, but dozed on and off for a little while before having to admit that I should probably go home or something. My wise mother had suggested that I move in with them for a few days right after the surgery, as I “probably wouldn’t get the rest I needed” at home with my three Hufflings, no matter how much they were told to leave me alone. Well, I spent three lovely days alternating between knitting in front of a lovely fire and passing out from the drugs, also in front of a lovely fire. Either way, I expected a quick recovery after those three days of complete rest, because my doctor told me it was “only two stitches”. Erm, turns out it’s a 4-6 week recovery, because they cut your abdominal muscles (WHAT?? Nobody told me that part!) and sew them back together, apparently only using two measly stitches. The upside: I no longer have an outie that is actually my intestines trying to escape. The downside: pain/agony/can’t exercise – not even pushups!!!, and can’t pick up small children, even when they’re clean and sweet-smelling, for well over a month. Upside (continued): can’t pick up sticky, stinky, bad-tempered children, DOCTOR’S ORDERS!
friend former coworker: Wow that has to be hard for you… how do you lift wine to your face? I’m assuming you use a crazy straw (I’m implying you drink very large glasses of wine in case you didn’t get it haha)
My response: I appreciate the implication, but silly girl, you are wildly underestimating my ingenuity and classiness. I just put the box on a low table, lie down underneath it, and reach up to press the button every few seconds. Voila! Or, conversely, thinking outside the box (ha ha), I don’t lift the wine to my face. I lower my face to the wine. Also, if you must know, I never drink wine from crazy straws… unless I’m having a bubble bath, and then I actually use red licorice as a straw and stop judging me because it’s awesome and now I have a total craving for pink wine and twizzlers.****
But I digress: They gave me morphine for the recovery, which just made me dizzy and nauseous and didn’t do much for the pain. Also, the bottle of pills said I had to choose between them and wine, so by the second night (when the pill bottle spoke to me again), I switched to wine. ALTHOUGH a few people have told me I may have just not had ENOUGH morphine to get the pain relief – to be fair, I tend to err on under-medicating myself (a mistake I don’t make with wine). UNfortunately, it was Mom and Dad’s homebrew wine. Le sigh. Dubious moral-in-progress: should have taken more drugs?
They say that you’re not supposed to drive a car for 2 weeks after general anaesthetic. I mistakenly thought that it was because I could strain my stitches (which is also true, I guess), but apparently, you are actually unable to function as a responsible human being during that time. I just recently found out that I completed my instructor evaluation for GoodLife 11 days later (ok, I knew that part), but was just told that I didn’t send the attachment… and it is literally nowhere.
This post is being written long after this whole thing. My stomach is now … better than it was. I no longer look pregnant, nor do I have an outie. I can do pushups (honestly, yay!). I am not back to the same fitness level I had at the end of November, and the doctor also did not gather any and all extra skin into the incision, despite the post-it that I stuck to my stomach explaining my preferences in that respect. As I have now had to endure two separate 3-month periods without exercise (bedrest with Tamsin and now this), I can say, definitively, that I am not willing to accept that my body will change with age, though, so, with wine in hand, I again declare, as I did long ago:
I will be strong.
I will be fit.
I am doing this for me.
… and I’m adding on this:
And I will
wear rock a bikini again.
* I believe I stole this term from a Paula Danziger book, but I can’t remember exactly which one.
** Note that the first time I had scheduled the surgery, Chris then scheduled travel for three days after. Hmm.
*** Funnily enough, it was the same anaesthetician (ha ha?) that gave me the epidural when I had Tamsin. AND SHE REMEMBERED ME! First, because I was so small and she had never given anyone such a small amount of medication before, and Second, because I asked her “you’ve done this before, right?” (I still think that’s a perfectly reasonable question, btw.)
**** Not making that up. Just ask Chris. He thinks it’s charming.