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Meet Abby Hanlon and Hear Her Story

I knew something wasn’t right. A mere 2 hours before, I had experienced an amazing natural birth with my second baby boy and was languishing in post-birth bliss. Napping with the new baby, all the oxytocin, and happy feelings. Then I stood up. 

I stood up, and lurched forward a bit as my stomach sloshed in a very concerning way. I couldn’t walk without physically holding all of my insides in my hands. I pressed my hands to my stomach and realized I could feel and see my intestines bubbling right underneath the surface.

This wasn’t just a “normal” post birth squishy baby belly. This was something else. Alarm bells went off in my head as I pressed my hands to my abdomen and I staggered to the restroom. I sat down again, and everything I held in my hands, drooped down even farther, tugging on my insides. Loose, uncomfortable, strained. 

I chalked it up to being so fresh off a birth, and prayed that things would return to normal in a few days.

The next few weeks passed up until my 6 week check up in an uncomfortable haze. On top of caring for a 2 year old and a newborn, I could barely hold myself up. I couldn’t sit myself up in bed, and I could continually press my hand so far into my abdomen it felt like I could touch my spine. I was weak, exhausted, confused.

I brought up my concerns to my Midwife and she determined that I had a significant case of Diastasis Recti. A separation of the abdominal muscles. I was confused, but had hopes I could fix it somehow.

I spent the next 8 months in intense Physical Therapy to strengthen the muscles of my pelvic floor, and train the weakened muscles. I made progress, but not enough. My stomach was uncomfortable to touch. Distended to the point of feeling like popping, and I had to protect my core like my newborn baby. 

That’s the first time I was told to get surgery. I went and consulted with a surgeon and was very unpleasantly surprised to find out how intense of an operation I would have to undergo to surgically repair my muscles and umbilical hernia. 

I wasn’t about to give up, but I wasn’t ready for surgery. I found a new Physical Therapist, worked with a chiropractor and gained strength.I worked for 2 more years to learn the intricate inner working of my core and pelvic floor. I made beautiful progress, I grew to appreciate my body and the confused state it was in. I rejoiced in some healing, but I was still uncomfortable.

While I could still use my core functionally, it was still uncomfortable. I began to again entertain the idea of surgery as a possibility in my future. It was becoming too much to constantly be juggling physical therapy appointments an hour away. A chiropractor every other week, and still protecting my core every minute of the day from harm. 

I felt lost, and alone. Stigmatized by other women who hadn’t been dealing with the same thing I was. I felt misunderstood, and failed by the system. Would I really have to undergo plastic surgery to get this resolved? It was a scary conclusion to come to. As a lifelong (and recovering!) perfectionist, I came to terms with the fact that I couldn’t do this on my own anymore.

I put in the work, I did research for a solid year before deciding on a surgeon. I interviewed several. Went back to a few, and made my decision. I was ready to end the suffering, and the pain I had endured for 3 years.

After a 3 year long battle, I finally booked the surgery. I’m writing this now, as I’m 2 weeks post-op, and I can confidently say I have done the right thing. I didn’t give up on myself for scheduling my operation. I became braver than I ever thought I could be. I struggled, I fought, and I overcame. 

This is not the end of the journey, but certainly the start of a new beginning. I wouldn’t change a single thing.

Want to hear more? Join us for Brave Women Brunch, November 7 at 9:30am

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