I promised myself that I would do this. I’m not going to back out now. But I really, really want to.

A few months ago, while I was still pregnant with Honest Baby, I wrote a post called “The New Normal,” where I wondered about what my body would look like after two back-to-back pregnancies, and after my first C-section. I promised myself that I would post a follow up about my “new normal” body when Honest Baby turned 6 months.  Well, that deadline has now arrived.

So here goes.

First of all, I want to start off by saying that my caesarean went perfectly.  I had no complications (except a violent nausea in reaction to the anesthetic. I threw up probably about a dozen times the first ten hours after my section. It’s a known problem that I have with anesthetic, so I was expecting this).  I had almost no pain. I never took any of my pain killers.  I never even filled the prescription.  I was up and walking around the entire ward the morning after, and was only in the hospital 36 hours total (one of the shortest hospital stays the nurses there had ever seen for a C-section). The procedure was fast and efficient.  My OB was capable and confident. Up until two minutes after Baby’s birth (when she stopped breathing), my vote was for C-section all the way. The recovery was easier than my vaginal delivery. For days after giving birth to Honest Girl, my legs were weak, shaky. I could barely keep myself upright. I also had completely lost bladder control, and my self esteem was shattered every time I looked down at the battlefield below my belly button.  Seriously.  My vagina looked like Droopy Dog. And it was about as happy. After my C-section, I was sore, it’s true.  It took me a few days to convince my legs to swing from my hip joints in any way that felt natural.  And I was scared to cough for the first two days after surgery. But other than that?  Easy as pie. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

That is, if I’ll ever do it again.

Since there seems to be so little out there in Internet-land about positive C-section experiences, I wanted to tell mine.  For anyone out there who is nervous about the possibility of having a C-section, don’t be. Really. They’re not all that scary.

Okay, so first picture. Here’s my C-section scar, 6 months post-partum.

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This is perhaps the aspect of my new body that I’m the most self-conscious about. My scar looks purple in person (also, do you see how dark my belly button is?  Why does that happen? Anybody know?).  It hasn’t faded much, and because it’s a little bit off-center, I feel as though it’s really noticeable.  One of my best girlfriends has a scar that seriously faded to nothing. Nothing. It looks like a wrinkle.  A fold in the skin. And I had convinced myself that mine would look the same way. But it doesn’t.  And I have no idea what I can do about that.

Now, the body before:

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May, 2010. Vegas. The pool. This is the day before my wedding. I weigh 124 pounds. 4’ 11”. I’m wearing contact lenses.

And, (deep breath, Rachel) after:

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March, 2014. Indiana. My bathroom. My daughter is lying on her play mat at my feet. I weigh 132 pounds. I have bifocals.

As you can see, I actually put on the same bikini for these pictures. It helps to highlight where the differences are. And there are differences. I must be a bikini sadist, because I was torturing that thing. I’ve never had to tie a bikini so tightly around my neck. It was a desperate attempt to hoist my breasts up. I’ve started calling them “National Geographic Boobies.” In a few more months I’ll be able to toss one of them over my shoulder to feed my daughter without having to take her out of the Baby Bjorn.

But it’s unfair to only show a picture of me in a bikini that no longer fits. Here’s what I usually look like these days.

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Well, okay. HERE’S what I usually look like:

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Nursing tank. Comfy jeans. Minimal makeup. Baby.

It really isn’t horrible. But it doesn’t feel “normal” to me yet. Or sexy. Or very comfortable. Especially since, though my stomach isn’t very big, the extra skin I now have just distracts me. When I bend over to blow dry my hair, this is what I see.

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Yeesh. For some reason, I think I look like the Governator at the beach. Too much skin. Too square. (True story. I just put this picture into this post, and when Honest Girl saw it, she hollered, “Woooooah! That’s Mommy! Right there!” My toddler is able to recognize my mushy parts. Awesome.)

A few months ago, the internet exploded in rage over fitness trainer and mother Maria Kang, who posted this picture:

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People said she was fat-shaming. They said she was setting unrealistic expectations. They said that she was placing undue pressure on mothers who are already asked for far too much. And I nodded in agreement. Yes. Bad Maria Kang. Bad.

But, honestly? I also want to be her.

I wish that I looked like that.

I started counting my excuses.

Baby. Toddler. Dissertation. New house. Endless winter. Workaholic husband.

But are those excuses? Or are they reasons? Is there a difference? And does that matter?

I’m actually embarrassed posting these pictures to show that, 6 months out, I’m not any closer to looking like that.  I really thought that I’d be closer. Because I want to be. I just don’t know how to right now.

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