Diastasis Recti Surgery Update: 2 years later

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Diastasis Recti Surgery Update: 2 Years Later

Hello dear readers and friends,

It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been over two years since I went through diastasis recti surgery. Due to the number of requests I receive about how I’m doing these days, diastasis-wise, I feel it’s time to update. I’ll answer some of the more frequent questions I get, and I’ll go into a little more detail on what life is like, two years after the surgery.

If you’ve read the diastasis recti surgery series (you can read the first post here), you know I struggled with diastasis recti, weak core, saggy belly skin, stretch marks, back pain, just the works. And if you are also struggling with diastasis recti, then I’m sure you know exactly what I am talking about, and how awful it feels to still look pregnant six months after the baby was born.

It wasn’t fun to have the surgery, not by any means. At all. I had a particularly difficult recovery, as a hematoma in my surgery area caused a major infection a month after the surgery. Then followed six months of antibiotics, a CAT scan, blah, blah, blah. Yuck. It was awful. But I survived. 🙂

Two years later, my stomach is still undergoing changes, but they are good. They are not from the surgery itself, but some things I have been doing to help out my skin in that area. These are things that anyone can do, within reason, to help their stomach area and to help with confidence, diastasis recti surgery or not. I’ll get to that in a minute, but first:

Daily Life after the Surgery

My day to day life is busy, kinda chaotic, but good. I am up and down most of the day, and it’s great to be able to say my stomach works now, and that is what is important, when you use your core muscles for almost every move you make.

My stomach still shows the impact of the surgery and infection – a large scar stretches across where my belly button used to be. Also, since my skin was taken out, I was left with a sort of bulge at the bottom, similar to a how a pleat in fabric will leave a bump at the crease.

I forgot what it feels like to have a belly button, which is weird. 🙂

But of course, you don’t have to have a belly button to survive daily life. The first few years after my surgery, I could feel the mesh whenever I slouched, or bent over. (The surgeon inserted mesh underneath my stomach muscles, so that they could look a little more normal, and so I could “still have a six pack”. I’m glad she did put it underneath my muscles.) Now, though, I can’t feel the mesh anymore. I have no idea if that’s because my nerves have healed or something, or if I am just so used to it that it doesn’t bother me anymore.

Either way, though, it’s definitely something I can deal with. I’m happy I had the surgery, even though it was an awful ordeal to go through.

I almost always say this in my posts, but I really need to mention that my experience with this surgery was very out of the ordinary. Most surgeries turn out fine. When I started the series, of course I had no idea I was going to go through such a hard recovery, I just wanted to document it on my website in an effort to help other women (and men) who deal with it and are considering surgery. I shouldn’t be the poster child for diastasis recti surgery, but I also have an experience to share, and all the details that go along with it. It is what it is. And I can deal with that, a lot better than I dealt with diastasis recti.

To Surgery or Not to Surgery?

If you are considering repairing your stomach muscles, there are several things you can do. You can try special exercises to bring the muscles back together. I did try these exercises but I was not good about keeping up with them at all.

You can get a tummy tuck – this is not the surgery I had. The way my surgeon explained it, a tummy tuck would fix the appearance of my stomach but would not permanently fix the muscles in a way that the diastasis recti could not reoccur. I have no idea what tummy tucks are like these days, but I do know they are not covered by insurance, which was a huge factor for me.

You can have your muscles repaired by a general surgeon, and this is what I did. Insurance may or may not cover this; mine did since it wasn’t a cosmetic endeavor. Mesh was inserted underneath my muscles, and they were stitched together. Eventually they healed and adhered to the mesh.

I can’t tell you which choice you should make. It’s such a personal decision, and there are so many factors at play. I can only tell you what I did and suggest you do as much research and praying as you can to make your decision.

Happy, yet Left Wanting

I have been happy with the way my stomach functions ever since my recovery. My life has changed, for the better, as a result of it. I don’t doubt that the surgery can help you, if you are considering it. Yet, even though the doctor took several inches of saggy skin out during the process, after I finally lost my baby weight, I was stuck with saggy skin yet again. And my surgery didn’t do anything for stretch marks, lol. My skin hung in a weird way over my scar as it healed, and my scar was very dark.

This wasn’t a huge issue, because I’m not exactly a bikini model. My husband and I are the only ones who regularly see my waist, and of course we were just glad it was fixed. But there was still a little nagging feeling there, a slight disappointment about the final, final outcome. This didn’t happen right away, but a few years later after I got used to my stomach working.

So, I did something about it.

I had earned some spending money, and after seeing my friend Lauren’s before and after picture, I decided to try those It Works wraps.

I just have to tell you, every time I had seen these wrap pictures floating around the webs, I had to do a little eye roll. I mean, really? Wraps? It sounds way too good to be true. I always dismissed them as some sort of hoax or something. Until I saw Lauren’s results. I know Lauren and I know she wouldn’t lie about her pics.

So, I decided to try them. I took my before pics, which I’m glad I did, and did the four wraps in the package. I wanted to try them for several months and see what kind of results I got. Here’s my before and after, after the first package of four wraps. The first set is taken at night, and the last set is taken at morning time, so that is why the lighting is so different.

Diastasis Recti Surgery Update

I was very happy with these results, and it didn’t take surgery to get the improvement. The scar, yes, 😉 but the tightening and toning, no. Awesome. Now I kind of get why everyone who uses them is so crazy about them.

It is a little embarrassing to share these before and afters, but I wanted to show what a difference it made for me, because well, they did something that even my surgery didn’t do, and for a heck of a lot cheaper. I recommend the wraps to you, my diastasis recti readers, since most of us are dealing with saggy skin, and honestly, need a boost of confidence without surgery.

They have a stretch mark and scar cream, and I am in the process of trying to get my huge scar and stretch marks lighter and less noticeable. I’ll be sure to update you with those pics. To be honest, I’m happy to have a way to help my stomach out a little more. (You don’t have to only use the wraps on your stomach, some people do their upper arms, neck, thighs, or back, but this was my focus.)

They also have a defining gel for cellulite, which I am going to try. I’m just now learning more about their  products and they seem to have a lot that can help anyone look their best, but especially those dealing with tummy troubles of the separation kind. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to answer. You can see the wraps and products for yourself here.

I feel like I still have work I want to do on my stomach area, but also, I have some tricks up my sleeve so I can do this. The surgery did the job, really, and left me wanting just a little bit, but really the most important part is that my stomach muscles are back together again. Oh, happy reunion! 🙂

What do you think? Are you considering surgery for your muscles? Have you had the surgery too? I’d love to hear from you.

Best wishes for a healed tummy,

Danielle <3

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Diastasis Recti Surgery Update: 2 Years later

51 thoughts on “Diastasis Recti Surgery Update: 2 years later”

  1. Thanks for sharing your story! I have an umbilical hernia and diastasis recti large enough that there's not a concern that my intestines will get stuck in there. So, what I am facing is the decision to go through with surgery or to let it be. I am extremely active, and cosmetically, my tummy is close to what it was before two babies except for the weird shape it has now and a blown out looking belly button. It's bulgy and hard. However, I really don't have much discomfort. The surgeon told me that I will ultimately need both hernia and DR to be repaired at some point in my life, as I'm at a risk of it tearing more. But I don't need to make the decision now. So I'm not sure what to do here. I really don't want to do it at all… but wonder if I do, if there's going to be a big difference. And, I want to keep my belly button even though it's pretty terrible looking right now 😉

    Reply
    • I know exactly how you feel Jennifer. Mine was very uncomfortable though, which provoked me to do something about it. Maybe you could look into the diastasis healing methods out there??

      Reply
      • Hi Dear,
        I had rectorectus hernia mesh repair surgery going to complete 4 weeks, as u said recovery is not easy as expexted, i have a incisional scar for 20 cms mine is a ventral open hernia surgery with large mesh placed inside, my right side of the abdomen pain than left when i checked with my doc he gave me the pain killer but i dont feel any difference, just want to check with u it just the same feel which u went through and tell me how long will be the recovery period.

        Reply
  2. This is great! I am having the surgery at the end of January and I’m honestly scared to death of the whole process. I have had 3 sections done in 3 years. They say the pain when recovering can be worse then that and that is terrifying to me. I just found a it works lady and will be getting their products once I’m completely healed. This is very inspiring. I appreciate you posting it!

    Reply
    • Thank you! Please let me know how your surgery goes! I understand the scared feeling, completely. I’m sure your experience will be better than mine was! lol. Yes, do try the It Works, they have really helped my skin! xoxo

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    • Hello – I have had terrible back issues since having our second child (it will literally spasm if I lift anything the wrong way), and feel defeated about it ever getting better since I have DR and an incredibly weak core. Did having the surgery help with your ability to strengthen your core? I think it would be totally worth it if it would help my back. Thank you for sharing!

      Reply
  3. Hi Danielle,
    I havent met anyone who had this condition, more so the surgery to repair it. It is good to read your blog above. I was diagnosed with a deep diastatis recti after my daughter was born in November 2014. Within two weeks i was seeing a physiotherapist who specialises in this condition and she started me off with light excercises. We met regularly and the excercises increased in difficulty to match the seperation closing up gradually. I really kept up with the excercises for 6 months to see if it would fix the problem. After 6 months she was happy the seperation had closed and signed me off, but warned me to keep up the excercises. But i kinda forgot about them and rarely did them afterwards, which i regret now as i am 3 months pregnant, with twins, and can feel and see the weakness in the stomach muscle- the ridge is back. But back to 6 months post excercises, my stomach was still a little big (im quite slim) but weirdly it was flat across the front, as if i was holding a pane of glass across it to hold it in a bit. I could feel the muscle was all there but there was a sore/sensitive part just below my bellybutton that never went away. I wonder now what kind of things i could be doing to try and keep some strength in my muscles for as long as possible with this pregnancy. I have done some of the easier excercises like hip twist and clam lift to help, anything else would be too strenous on the bump i think. I may go back to the physio for some advise, but im pretty sure im facing another 6 months of physio. I would love the surgery, but with 3 small children i dont think i can convelese too well. But if it went well it would be amazing to have a flat normal tummy again, all stitched up! Its hard to know because the physio worked to a certain extent, so i cant really fault it. So sorry to hear your surgery was so difficult to recover from, thats must have been so hard.. You seem to have great results from the wrap, i wish i had that last summer. I must remeber it for next year..
    Joanne

    Reply
    • Thanks for your comment, Joanne. <3 I am very impressed that you kept up with the exercises so well. That was so difficult for me, I just never would keep consistently working on them. I love that they are a natural way to close things up. I did have a hernia and surgery did end up being necessary, but I would have kept myself from lots of pain, I think, had I kept up with the exercises. Let me tell you, surgery recovery (even before the infection) was difficult and trying. I completely agree. The wrap has been very helpful for me, and I'm glad there is some more aesthetic way to help without surgery. Best wishes for a smooth and easy pregnancy, delivery, and recovery. Thank you for stopping by! <3

      Reply
      • Hi Danielle
        I tried to reply before now but had a problem with my connection and lost it.
        Thank you for your message of encouragement and well wishes. I will definitely prioritise the excercises even better than the last time. Your experience has put me off the surgery if possible, it sounds too difficult even without the risk of infection. Plus i have to use a lot of work sick leave before the twins come so i wont have much left for a surgery.
        I saw another belt that may help also, especially in the early months after birth http://babyandyou.ie/maternity-accesories/60-postnatal-abdominal-belt.html
        Take care and i hope things get better for you in the future,
        Joanne

        Reply
  4. You are the first person I’ve seen with my same situation ! I will be having surgery soon to fix my severe diastasis recti. The doctor will be using Mesh. Is there anything I should do before surgery to prepare myself? Is there anything I should buy? Is there a way to care for yourself so you don’t get an infection. I am so scared for the pain! Do you think after 2 weeks you will be able to do normal activates? I have three children and my husband will have to be back to work. I look nine months pregnant right I just want my stomach back! After surgery I know you said that you had sagging skin but did you look normal wearing regular clothes?

    Reply
    • Hi Shanice! It might be a good idea to do some meal prep and write out some instructions on meals, I found that helped my husband and my mother-in-law when I was out. Make sure you have lots of pillows to keep yourself comfy. Lots of good reading material or entertainment! Personally I was not ready to care for my four children after two weeks, but you might be different! I do remember very well the pregnant belly I carried with me all the time before the surgery – I do not have that anymore which is very nice. Every surgery and surgeon is different, so I would ask my surgeon and tell him or her that you have that concern. Mine took out the extra skin so you could ask your surgeon if that’s a possibility. Best wishes with your surgery – let me know if you have any other questions! <3

      Reply
  5. Hey Danielle, I just did the procedure 10/4/16 and I’m so much pain. Mine was done robotically, so I had small incisions on both sides and underneath of my tummy. I really didn’t know what I was going up against or I would’ve waited. My belly button was really big and hard like and always would cause me a lot of pain. It took me to the emergency room to which I was referred to a surgeon that broke the news to me about the diastasis recti and hernia.

    The way the procedure was explained to me seemed to be okay until I woke up I’m the recovery room. That pain is much more worse after a csection. The back pain is so serious because I’m unable to stand up straight and then my breathing isn’t too good. I feel better sitting down and that’s exactly how I sleep with the most pillows. I spoke to the nurse today and was told to use a pillow pushing against my abdomen to help me with my breathing techniques.

    I’m so glad upon coming up on your post to read how the recovery process is, so all I can do is take it one day at a time.

    Reply
    • Hi Kecha, I’m sorry to hear you are in so much pain. I remember the pain very well! 🙁 I’m so glad my post has helped you in some way. You’re right, you have to take it one day at a time. You can do it!!! <3

      Reply
  6. I have a hernia and severe diastasis as well. Can I ask how it was determined that they would also sew your muscles together, rather than just a tension free mesh repair? I assume this is something your general surgeon decided you needed to reinforce the repair, and your insurance covered it? I feel the same as you about appearance… I don’t need to be in a bikini but I don’t want this giant bulge, and I want better core function! I’m 37, 3 c sections and 3 giant babies. I was lucky my ob sewed me up 1/3 of the way the last time.

    Reply
    • Hi jill, my surgeon did comment that sewing my stomach muscles together would reinforce the repair, along with the mesh underneath. I don’t know how she was able to, but she knew the correct wording so that it would be covered by insurance and not be considered cosmetic. Because it wasn’t! 😉 Are you looking into getting your diastasis repaired?

      Reply
      • Yes I’m hoping to find a surgeon who will do the same. I went to my regular doc and he agrees it’s both hernia and diastasid and to see a general to figure out how much is actually hernia. I have a consult with general on Halloween. Im not thrilled with the mesh, but as long as it’s done in conjunction with the DR repair I guess that’s okay. mine is up high, the worst area being just above the umbilicus. I assume the doctor just codes it all as a hernia repair.

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          • I just met with her. I left crying tears of joy. In addition to the umbilical hernia my diastasis is sooo severe there is a “loss of domain” of my organs and she is calling it a ventral hernia. I am meeting with a plastic in her office later this week, I may be having him do the skin part. But she thinks I will mostly be covered. She will repair unbiliclw hernia, sew the diastasis, and use a small amount of partially absorbable mesh.

          • That’s great! You’re going to be taken care of! That’s very similar, if not exactly like, my surgery. Be prepared for a longer recovery time, but after you heal you’ll be able to use your stomach again!! <3

        • Jill and Danielle,

          I just came across this article/thread as it’s been 2 weeks since I had my surgery! I was in the same boat…3 babies, 3 C-sections and 3yrs later I thought I was destined to have that belly forever! I didn’t even know I had an umbilical hernia until a doc pointed it out to me (I thought it was just a destroyed belly button.) He also said he couldn’t repair the hernia without repairing the diastasis recti and inserting mesh. It took months for insurance to approve it but in the end, I got the approval!! I ended up losing my belly button too since the skin was too damaged in that area and now I have about a 5″ vertical scar. It’s only been 15 days (and yes my recovery was worse than any of the c-sections) but I can feel that my stomach separation is closed up and it the best part is that at the end of the day, I don’t look 5mths pregnant anymore! it’s not flat and bikini ready but it’s soooo much better than it was. Good luck to you with your surgery.

          Reply
          • I had my surgery. I decided to go ahead with the full abdominioplasty because I would have had a lot of loose skin and if I was going to go through this recovery I wanted the best outcome. It was coded as umbilical
            And ventral hernia repair. This allowed the plastic surgeon to assist the general for the ventral, making my self pay part cheaper (since he was already there.) the ventral hernia also allowed me to get my hospital stay (one might) covered. In the end it wasn’t as cheap as I hoped but I felt I got the best care and outcome. I went from looking 6 /7 months pregnant to flat!

  7. I’m so glad I found your blog! I have an umbilical hernia with diastis. I met with a surgeon who said the hernia needs to be fixed (pretty small hole, can just be sewn). When I asked about the diastis she just shrugged and said I could meet with a plastic surgeon if I want. I’m so confused! It so makes sense in my mind I would need to get them both fixed. If not the abs as well, isn’t there a bigger chance of another hernia later?! My regular doc won’t call me back–I want a referral to a PT, just to ask some one who seems to know more about the diastis!

    I have 4 little boys and family far away! How could I do all this?! You’re amazing! Nursing your baby like a rockstar.

    My hernia surgery is scheduled Easter weekend but I feel like I should put it off until I get more answers. Who can give me answers?? I don’t want a bigger surgery, but I want to avoid problems in the future.

    Reply
  8. Hi,
    I have a pretty big Diastasis Recti (but no hernia). I have 2 kids and the baby is already 15 months old, but I still look so pregnant. However, I want 2 more kids. Should I wait to have the surgery until after I’m done having kids, or will having an unresolved DR be a problem for future pregnancies/deliveries? Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Caitlan. I first recommend asking a doctor or surgeon – they’ll be able to give you much better info on the types of surgeries that they can offer you. With my particular surgery, mesh was placed, so having future children was not recommended because of stretching the skin attached to the mesh. I do believe that an unresolved DR will progress for future pregnancies, but that’s only because of what happened with mine.

      There are some programs that heal diastasis without the use of surgery (such as Mummy Tummy, etc.) but I wasn’t able to keep up with them. You might, however, look into them and see what kind of exercises you can practice to keep your DR from progressing. Maybe you’ll be better at keeping up with them than I was. <3

      Reply
  9. Hey Danielle

    Im a male and i recieved my abdominal separation through a work related injury. I also have a small umbilical hernia. My body transfers weight through my back now cause my core is so weak. What is the proper wording that gets the insurance company to recognize it as medically necessary and not cosmetic?

    Reply
  10. Hi Danielle, I had my first baby in April and have a large hernia with diastasis recti above my belly button. The protrusion is large and high. My general surgeon recommended sewing the muscles together, adding mesh, and repairing the hernia with 2 small side incisions. Is that what you had? He asked when I would have another child. I said in 4 to 5 years and he said it should be okay. Did your doctor give you a hard no or recommend having the surgery after kids? Thanks in advance! Both of your posts were very helpful. I don’t think the wraps will be very effective for me but I’m happy to see your after photos. Omg one last question, do women tend to always lose their belly button without prior warning? This surgeon told me recovery would be “rough” without real specifics; it’s unnerving.

    Reply
    • Well, it is similar to what I had, but not exactly the same. My surgeon placed the mesh underneath my abdominal muscles and then sewed them together. Instead of two small side incisions, I had one large one going the length of my abdomen as shown in the pictures. My doctor said I would need to be done having children after the surgery so that was also factored into the decision making process. Your surgery sounds different, so you might be able to have more children; each surgeon and surgery and patient are different, I have learned from my commenters! 🙂 My doctor definitely warned me about losing my belly button; it doesn’t sound like that would be something your surgeon would do in your case.

      It was most definitely a rough surgery with a long recovery. 🙁 I didn’t realize how hard it would be and my infection complicated things, but even without the infection it was so rough. However, now that it’s all over, I am very glad I had the surgery and my abdominal muscles repaired. I’m even glad the surgeon placed the mesh underneath my muscles rather than on top. I hope your surgery process runs smoothly with no complications and fast healing!! Best wishes. <3

      Reply
  11. I am getting the repair as well but my doctor is doing a horizontal scar under my bikini line like a tummy tuck. Is there a reason yours chose vertical? Happy you ended up healing well!

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  12. I’ve had two babies and two C-sections. Although I have type 2 diabetes, and developed pre-eclampsia, my first was only 7lb3 and I had no issues with my stomach muscles, just some saggy skin underneath. But with my second, not only was she 9lb4, but I had excess amniotic fluid (polyhydramnios) – at least 3 litres, when there should have only been about 1L. My daughter is now 18 months old, and I’ve been diagnosed with a 4cm abdominal separation and a .5cm umbilical hernia. I have an appointment with my physiotherapist in a couple of weeks. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

    Reply
  13. Glad i found your page. I had umbilical hernia and diastasis surgery 2 months ago. I did get mesh on my umbilical hernia and diastasis. I had robotic laparoscopic surgery. I still feel pain and discomfort i feel like its the mesh trying to heal. I hope this discomfort goes away. Im glad i read your story makes me feela little better because i haven’t found anyone that’s had the same surgery as me.

    Reply
  14. Hi Danielle,

    Just like everyone else I am very happy to have stumbled accords your story. My first two pregnancy so had 10lb babies. I noticed my DR after my second pregnancy. My third pregnancy I had twins almost 15lbs in pregnancy with the twins. I too look 9 months pregnant but then again it’s only been 2 months. I wanted to ask you more about the recovery. I know your experience was not that great due to the infection but how old were your kids? How long til you were able to carry them? After reading these stories & comments I am assuming it’s best to wait til my twins are at least a few years old but my emotions of my body are really getting the best of me. I would really like to hear your thoughts on this? Also if you can go back would you still have done the surgery knowing what it took to get to where you are now?

    Reply
    • Hi Lena, at the time my youngest was 7 months. If I remember correctly, I think it was several months before I could hold her unassisted. I think I mention it somewhere in this series if you want to go back and look. I cannot say when the best time would be, as I truly think it’s different for each mother and family. Just be prepared to be out of commission for a couple months. It might be easier when they’re littler, or it might be easier when they’re more mobile and less dependent on you. In retrospect I’m glad I had the surgery because my stomach works now and I can stand, dance, and do most of the things I’d like to do. (Anything stomach-dependent is difficult such as situps or pullups.) I can’t bear the thought of going through it again as it was the hardest thing I had ever done in my life, but as you said, that really is in regard to the infection, not the surgery itself. I am glad it’s over with. <3

      Reply
  15. Hello, i am having the surgery done to repair my DR and umbilical hernia. I am also a little confused on how my results will turn out being that i am NOT getting a tummy tuck with it. Were your before and after pictures of the surgery? or were they from using the wraps??

    Reply
  16. Hi, it is now August 2020, and I just found your page. After two c-sections and two bouts with cancer in my abdomen, I now have a huge distatsis recti and abdominal, umbilical, incisional, and parastomal hernias. It is time for surgery, something similar to yours. I am 66 years old.

    Thank you for your explanations and descriptions.

    Reply
  17. Hi Danielle,
    Thank you for sharing your experience.

    I was diagnosed with a severe Diastisis Recti and Umbilical Hernia just after my first child who is now 1 year old. I wasn’t experiencing any pain but could see and feel my intestines moving freely in what still looks like a 5-month pregnant belly. I recently started experiencing some pain and discomfort around my midsection and been considering going in for the surgery to repair the DR and Hernia but I’m so worried about the effect it will have on me having a second child in some years or would I even be able to have a second child after the surgery? Also means I wouldn’t be able to work for quite a while. How do I cope now with the pain if I don’t undergo the surgery? I tried a belly wrap but I find anything not natural to my skin very discomforting. I’d still see my doc for general advice but I just would really love to get advice from anyone who actually has experienced this. Please, help!

    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hi Elizabeth, I’m so sorry to hear about your DR and hernia. I can completely relate to the pain and also to the discomfort of wearing wraps, etc. As to your questions, I guess it depends on each person and each surgeon. My surgeon told me I wouldn’t be able to have any more children after the surgery due to the mesh and my stomach muscles adhering to it. We already had four children at that point and we were ready to be done having children. I am not sure if that’s the case for each person, but having a personal consult with a surgeon would be something to consider. Again, I really understand the pain and the inconvenience of it all; before my surgery, I could barely hold myself up and barely get anything done. The surgery helped me so much, but I was in so much pain while going through the pregnancies and deliveries of my children prior to that. Blessings to you as you consider what’s best for you and for your family. <3<3<3

      Reply

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