Carrying twins does something to your body. Carrying any baby changes your body, and carrying two at once can really do a number on it. (I can’t imagine carrying more than two!)
I was never Miss America material, but I was always pretty fit. 8 months after having the boys, I am still working on accepting my “new” body.
Some of what I struggle with is extra fat that I’ve put on (some probably post-babies!) because I haven’t been working out very consistently and I’m not a very healthy eater. I eat well sometimes, but then I turn right around and eat five cookies in as many minutes. (This never used to be an issue for me. I could eat what I liked and not worry about it. Those days are gone.)
The rest, though, is my belly. My belly of saggy baggy elephant skin. There is SO MUCH skin left that it looks like fat if you see it under clothes, and if you see it without clothes you might just throw up a little bit. That’s not to mention the stretch marks that look like a tiger took to my belly with its claws. I don’t mind them so much, though, because I never planned to wear a bikini again anyway. It would be nice, though, to not feel frustrated with how I look even when I put clothes on.
I’m in an online group of twin mommies. From them, I’ve learned a bit about this skin I have left.
1) It’s often referred to as “twin skin”
2) The only twin mommies in that group that don’t have it had preemies
3) It will never go completely away without surgery
Let me make one thing abundantly clear: I am SO INCREDIBLY THANKFUL for the fact that I was blessed to carry my boys to 37 weeks. They were born with zero medical issues and spent no time in the NICU, unlike many twins. I WOULD NOT trade my skin for preemie babies, and I know every one of those moms would gladly have a belly like mine to have children born full term.
Now, having cleared that up, it is still very difficult to adjust to this belly of gross saggy skin. It even makes me less motivated to exercise/eat healthy and lose the other fat on my body (I say fat, not weight, because I weigh less than I used to but my body fat % is obviously different because everything jiggles and I just look bigger) because I know that no matter what I do, my stomach will always look this way.
I think this is such a difficult adjustment for me for two reasons. 1) I used to be very fit and active and I’m just still not used to the person I see in the mirror. 2) So many women around me and society in general make it seem like I should have a perfect little tiny body again by now. (It’s been 8 months since they were born – what is wrong with her?!) My friend Sarah put it into words quite well the other day, I thought. She said, “We’re told we’re beautiful when we’re little, and that puberty is good, even though our bodies change, and then when they change again (for a great purpose) all of a sudden they’re ugly and embarrassing!”
When your belly stretches this far, some of it just won’t “snap back”
I‘d post a picture of the aftermath, but I don’t want anybody to lose their lunch 😉 (You probably think I’m kidding, but I’m really not. For instance, I was shopping for some new shirts one afternoon with my younger sister Hope. She is incredibly blunt and honest in her childlike way, and as she saw me change my shirt she asked me what was wrong with my stomach. I explained to her that having Brendan and Cason had made my belly look that way, and she giggled while she said, “It’s gross! Put your shirt on!” She did not say this to hurt my feelings, she is just honest.)
Thankfully, the skin on my belly has gone down a great deal. That doesn’t mean it bothers me any less. This blog post is something I read on days I’m really upset. She puts into words EXACTLY how I feel about it!
“When I blow dry my hair after a shower, I look at my body in the mirror, and the familiar internal conversation begins. First there is the still present feeling of surprise. That’s me? Then comes the uncontrollable feeling of disgust constricting my throat. But on its heels the thought: wait a minute, these scars are sacred, they represent one of the most significant stories within my story, something I don’t want to forget, and there, right there is evidence of my own rebirth into something more. But I hardly take a breath before my hands are moving to my stomach to stretch it out flat and make it look like a long-gone me. If I could just change this one part…”
—-read the whole post though, please. It is so beautifully written!
Shopping and getting dressed have changed immensely. I cannot wear shirts that fit my belly and feel comfortable with myself, so I buy more loose fitting clothing or shirts that are banded at the bottom but loose over the belly. I’ve had to buy bigger pants because the skin just couldn’t comfortably fit inside my old ones. If I want to look nice for some reason, if I’m really trying to look pretty, I end up in tears. Then I remind myself that vanity is a sin, I get up and put on my “fat sucker inner” as I call my spanx that I have to wear to even somewhat resemble my old self, and get dressed.
Like I said just above, I KNOW that vanity is a sin. I know that, but I struggle with it. I struggle with wanting to look like my old self, but not wanting to go back to the days before I had my babies. I struggle with feeling ugly, even in front of my very reassuring, sweet, accepting husband. It is a daily struggle to accept myself for who I am and to remember that what I look like doesn’t really matter.
It is also a struggle not to be jealous of and bitter toward mothers whose bodies can return to, or very closely to, what they looked like before baby/ies. Add this to the list of things about which I compare myself to other moms.
My photographer aunt is visiting this weekend, and we are planning to finally take family photos. I don’t know what I’ll wear, and I’m sure I won’t love how I look. I keep remembering this blog post I read awhile ago, though, and I know I’ll be thankful we took pictures as a family.
In summary, I don’t have anything as beautiful to say as the author of “These are the lines of a story” did in the first post I linked tonight. She kind of took the words right from my mouth with a lot of what she said.
I’m thankful for my boys, and I would rather have a gross belly than no babies.
I’m aware that this whole post is a first world problem that wouldn’t even be an issue if I didn’t have such an easy, cushy lifestyle. If I had to hunt my food and carry my own water every day, extra belly skin would probably never cross my mind.
If you’re reading this post and you have twin skin, I want to tell you that it’s ok to not love it. I don’t think anybody does. Someday, though, we’ll come to a better acceptance of our bodies as they are now. (Alternatively, you can get a tummy tuck. Lots of women do that nowadays.) I’m more ok with it now than I was a month ago, and I’m sure in the next few years that acceptance will continue to grow.
I also know that I’m smaller than many people I know, and they’ll probably be irritated by this post. Please realize, though, this post isn’t about losing weight; it’s about trying to accept a part of me that I can never hope to change without a very expensive, painful, elective surgery – a surgery I don’t want. And to those of you who say, “it’ll go back” or, “do more planks”: you don’t know what I’m talking about. Ask a twin mom. Or a triplet or quad mom. Or a singleton mom whose belly grew more than is typical.
It’s skin. I can’t “fix” it. And I will accept it.