I've had this post rolling around in my head for the last month, maybe. I don't know. It's a kind of weird, rambly, multi-topic post that may not make much sense. That is all because I can't even wrap my brain around all the things I am feeling.....
So a few weeks ago, after a run, my 11 year old son pointed out how much smaller my belly was than it used to be. Then a few days later, as I was wearing my bikini and getting ready to get into the pool, he pointed out that I had a "wiggly tummy". I was mortified that he felt like that was an OK thing to say to anyone, but then again, I have tried to raise my kids to be open and honest. After having a very calm conversation about the fact that it isn't OK to say whatever it is that pops into your head, and that while things may be a fact, they can still be hurtful and should be kept to ones self, I felt very conflicted. Here's why.
I had weight loss surgery so that I could be active and be able to keep up with my 3 amazing kids. I didn't have it to be skinny, or to look like a model (like that would EVER happen anyway), but to be the healthiest wife and mother I could be. Now that I've lost 95#, the long list of possible plastic surgeries it would take for my body to look "normal" I started to feel very fake. I didn't want to lose weight to have the perfect body, but to be healthy, so WHY do I feel the need to undergo additional surgeries to "fix" my body cosmetically?
As I stood in the shower and washed my stomach later that afternoon, I realized that my body tells a story. It tells of a 40 year struggle with the body that God endowed me with. It tells of my struggle with obesity, and it shows what having 4 pregnancies can do to a woman's body when she is already obese at the time of conception. But my body also tells a beautiful story of redemption and hard work. I'll ignore the obvious argument that I've heard about a million times since telling people of my decision to have Weight Loss Surgery that I "took the easy way out" and the million recommendations I've heard of what I should have done instead.
I took control of the only thing in this life that I truly feel has ever beat me. I have survived a rape at age 18, I survived a verbally and emotionally abusive marriage, I survived the death of my son, Henry James at 18 weeks gestation, WHY couldn't I get beyond the weight issue? Why was that the 1 thing I couldn't "beat"?
So now, here I sit, wearing my size 14 Ralph Lauren capris (down from a size 22), my 36DD bra (down from a size 44DDD), having completed a sprint triathlon, a half marathon, getting ready to run my 2nd half marathon this weekend, feeling like I still need to have surgery to "fix" me and make myself acceptable. So, I'm going to do something I NEVER thought I would do. I'm going to share some pictures that also help to document my journey in a very real, and scary way. I bought a "goal bathing suit" the weekend before my WLS nearly 2 years ago with the plan of taking pictures in it along the way to see the progress. Somewhere along the way, that bikini has been lost, but since I bought a new one last month, I have something to show the comparison, which is quite frankly, shocking to me. The pictures of now show my flaws too. My thighs are saggy, my belly button barely visible, the girls aren't where they're supposed to be, but that's why Victoria makes so much $$ for her secret.
I'm not saying I'll never have cosmetic surgery, quite frankly, clothes are often uncomfortable thanks to the belly skin hanging down, and the saggy thigh skin. I may well have surgery at some point, but it would be more for comfort than for cosmetic purposes. This body has carried 4 babies, 3 to term...It has allowed me to complete a triathlon, a few 5k's and a half marathon. It has let me fail to complete 6 half marathons, but I've never given up. This is the body God gave me, and I'm going to do whatever I can to keep it healthy and thriving. My body shows battle wounds and scars, it tells a story of hard fought battles; some battles have been won, some are ongoing, and some were lost...but it's MY story, MY body, and at least for today, I'm going to love myself and my body. For today, I'm going to accept the stretch marks, and saggy skin for what it is, proof of progress toward a goal of health and fitness; besides, is there a "loose skin" factor taken into account for health and fitness? Me thinks not, so for now, I'll keep mine.
The pictures in the yellow bathing suit were taken on October 4, 2013, just 4 days after my WLS, thus the reason for the large bruises, as those were my incision sites. The other 2 were in May. I took the standing one in the Target dressing room, trying to decide whether I should be the girl wearing a bikini who obviously had no reason to be at the beach. The last was taken by my husband. I was laying out at the beach, obviously I had decided that I didn't mind being "THAT GIRL" that got the rolled eyes for wearing a suit obviously too small for my body, and he thought I looked hot. Clearly, Gravity isn't kind, but when I lay down, everything kinda falls into a decent place. This is when I'm most torn about having cosmetic surgery. I can see the body I "could have" if I let someone take away the extra skin on my thighs and tummy and stretched the skin more taut.....Ah, the struggles of facing reality.