After Alexa Wilding welcomed her twin boys, she found herself in a body that barely felt like her own. Here's how she came to terms with it.
Like so many mothers out there, Alexa Wilding struggled to feel at home in her postpartum body—but after delivering twins, undergoing a tummy tuck, and weathering her child's cancer battle, Wilding realized something: Even if she could get her body back to a place that looked the way it did pre-babies, it would never be the same.
Wilding refers to the journey from maidenhood to motherhood in a deeply honest video about her own body's transformation. While many moms would have you believe that bellies are supposed to snap back to pre-pregnancy shape after just a few months, Wilding knows this isn't always the case.
"I knew to expect swelling, and that I'd look pregnant for possibly a month after the birth. But I watched as my mama friends' stomachs eventually went down, and mine didn't. Granted, they had some stretch marks, but they were posting pictures of themselves back in their pre-baby jeans. Everyone congratulated them," Wilding tells Fit Pregnancy. "I was left with so much excess skin—the consistency of cauliflower, stretchy like Silly Putty—that calling it a 'mom flap' was an understatement. I still looked six months pregnant. I couldn't wear underwear, or fit into pants. At night I'd lie in the bath pulling at the flesh, both fascinated and repelled. It was heavy; it rolled over when I did."
It wasn't just the physical changes that came after she delivered: The mom also found herself with serious back and abdominal pain—and most seriously of all, her son was diagnosed with cancer when he was just a year old.
In a video recorded for Allure's Dispelling Beauty Myths series, Wilding gets real about her experience: She went under the knife after she was diagnosed with hernias and severe diastases, and a doctor suggested she get a "mommy makeover" at the same time. Wilding decided to go ahead with the tummy tuck—but it wasn't an easy choice.
"Honestly I don't know if would have done it had I not already been going under the knife, had it not been reasonably cheaper due to the initial medical need. But I definitely was sold into the myth that I'd get my old self back," Wilding tells us. "The recovery was brutal. I felt like Frankenstein. That said, I'm a fashionista so it was fantastic being able to wear certain clothes again after years! But underneath my new underwear and jeans was a rock hard abdomen that's still quite numb and uncomfortable. Two years since the surgery, the skin has since lost its elasticity and it sags over the hip to hip incision line. But most interesting? While I by no means look pregnant anymore, and the skin is, by comparison, not as extreme as some, I still struggle with my body image and feeling sexy."
Wilding has a message for other moms who are struggling to make peace with their changed bodies. "We are told to get our bodies back," she says. "We are inundated with celebrities who have 'gotten their bodies back,' but most of them are going under the knife so that's a myth! And while we will have friends, even mothers of huge twins, who snap back naturally, it's really the 'luck' of the draw and it's besides the point."
She continues: "We need to free ourselves from the 'getting our body back' myth. It's a tall, impossible order. Even if my body had miraculously returned to 'normal,' it's still a different body. It brought life into the world. And I am living in this new body as I experience the myriad of emotions that mark the rite of passage from maidenhood to motherhood. There's no going back. And that's a good thing!"