There are many things people don’t tell you about pregnancy, labor, and delivery. They don’t tell you about the way you feel the first time baby moves, the ring of fire, or the beauty of milky smiles. One other thing they don’t tell you about it that pregnancy can be brutally hard on your body. Not just stretch marks and back aches, but something called diastasis recti. This is when your abdominal muscles separate in the middle. They can separate for many reasons- weight of your pregnant belly, bad posture, crunches,and/or things like jackknifing out of bed. I was the queen of this in my first pregnancy. My midwife commented on how strong I was to be able to still sit up from a laying position while 6 months pregnant. I thought at the time doing this would keep my ab muscles strong. Well, I was seriously wrong. Toward the end of my pregnancy I noticed my belly button looked odd, not “turkey timer baby’s done cooking odd”, but someone unzipped my belly button odd. I thought it would go back to normal after the baby was born. It never did.
By baby#2 I was used to the funny belly button, stretch marks, and saggy belly that never bounced back. Pregnancy was fairly easy with some discomfort the last week. Baby #2 was born in a weird position- a face presentation. (face came out first instead of the back of the head)The odds of that are 1 in 500. Lucky me. Labor was painful and I was forced to push her out pronto to make sure she was okay. After a 3 second scare of her not breathing, she started crying lustily and life was good.
Baby #3’s pregnancy was marked by sciatic pain over 2 of the trimesters, fatigue, and baby
hung out in a transverse (sideways position) until about 35 weeks. I felt huge and lots of people were questioning my due date and that it was a single baby. I was pretty happy when labor rolled around. My easiest labor so far! With only two hours of active labor, and me catching her, I was elated. ( I now think this easy labor had to do with a front lying placenta.) It was about a year and a half after this pregnancy that I learned about diastasis from Julie Tupler’s program. I checked out her book from the library and got about 6 weeks into it and got pregnant. I decided to work on my abs after it was all over. MISTAKE.
Surely baby#4 would be a piece of cake after having had a path blazed by three others. One word can describe my 4th pregnancy. Horrible. Horrible, horrible, horrible. It still causes me anguish to think back on it. I was in so much pain from sciatica, exhaustion, sore hips, low pressure, tight skin. To say I got huge, would be an understatement. People kept asking me about twins. I insisted it was only one. My mother-in-law was insistent that I looked like I was having twins. I was going to prove her wrong. I checked on Google Images for women pregnant with twins to PROVE I wasn’t that big. Let’s just say, I had to admit they were right by the time I got done looking at pictures. It made me cringe to have to tell people when I was due. Their eyes would bug out in shock and they would invariable ask about “twins”. This baby hung out in a transverse position, too, until about 35 weeks. Labor started with my water breaking and was going fine until we quit progressing. After a check by the midwife, I found out I was the victim of a “brow” presentation. Those occur in about every 3000 births. Again, lucky me. After many hours of excruciating pain and some interesting gymnastics, baby turned minutes before we were all ready to give up and head to the hospital. If you like long, unpleasant labor stories with a beautiful baby at the end you can read it HERE (pt 1) and HERE (pt2).
Thankfully, I felt great afterwards. When #4, Abigail, was 2 months old, I discovered an online fitness program through a blog that was offering a free month. It was even diastasis friendly! The idea was to use up my free month and go on my merry way. Let’s just say, Thank the Lord, that was not the case!
As you can see, my belly gets progressively bigger with each pregnancy and each pregnancy got more and more difficult. After each baby, my body took longer to get things back in place. At two months after my fourth pregnancy there was only a 4″ difference between my waist and hip measurements! At the belly button there was only a 2″ inch difference. I needed some help.
To be continued…