Firstly I want to say thank you for this web site. I feel less alone and perhaps I am finding a newfound appreciation for my body.

This is a long story. In 2002 I got married. I had a fairy-tale wedding. It was everything I dreamed of and more.

One month after my wedding I attended a routine Pap test appointment. My doctor suspected Fibroids and so sent me for an Ultrasound. I was diagnosed with bilateral Dermoid Ovarian Cysts. The cysts were 5 on my right ovary and 4 on my left and growing. I was told to have surgery as soon as possible as they could burst and the contents of the cysts were quite caustic.

I researched and found a Surgeon who would remove via keyhole surgery through my belly button. Surgery was undertaken on 03/03/03. I was nervous but thankful they had been diagnosed whilst I might still have some ovarian tissue left to salvage.

I was admitted at 6am, the surgery was meant to take 1 hour. I woke up three hours later in the most incredible pain. The surgeon had grazed my artery during the procedure and I had been sliced open and my keyhole surgery resulted in a 10 scar, which ran through what was my bellybutton. This needed to be done to save my life. He had seconds to open me up and so the cosmetic appearance of the cut he would make was irrelevant. On waking I was informed of what had happened and the doctor informed me how I had ruined his statistics of no complications. Not the best bedside manner!

When my husband visited me (my only family where I live now all my family are overseas), I lifted my gown to show him the mess and he passed out. He is very squeamish. He was admitted to Accident & Emergency with memory loss. I received a phone call from his Neurological Doctor stating he didnt remember getting married. So I was left alone worrying whether my husband would regain his memory and looking at my newly butchered body. Some 8 hours later he returned to visit me with his memory mostly restored. It was a very lonely wait.

The scar was a constant reminder of how close I was to loosing my life. Instead of being thankful for being saved I couldnt recover easily from the experience. I lamented how I would never wear a bikini again and of course I no longer felt attractive to my husband. This impacted on our marriage greatly for a long time. I decided to have plastic surgery to straighten the scar. This resulted in a slightly neater but 2 longer scar in length. It didnt change my feelings about how I looked I still felt very unattractive.

In 2005 we decided to try for a baby. I researched and came up with a quick plan to conceive. Thinking it might take many months due to my age (35) and scarred ovaries I was quite aggressive with my plan. I fell pregnant the first cycle and the first time we tried. Ten days later I knew I was pregnant. I was very thankful and of course incredibly surprised.

I had an uneventful pregnancy. I worked in Panama and was informed by the OB we were expecting a boy and all was well. I returned home to Australia and at my 20-week scan my boy was actually a girl. We were amazed and it did take a little getting used to.

I had nausea initially but found if I ate constantly I would never throw up. Eat I did and piled on 55 pounds. My husband was overseas for the last 2 months of my pregnancy. I was lonely and I ate for comfort. Now I was overweight and scarred.

Ten days overdue I went into labour. 48 hours of trying resulted in a failure to progress and I was told I had to have a c-section. More battle scars. Our baby was born 8 pounds 8 oz and all was well. She latched straight on to my breast.

Six days later I still had no colostrom and no sign of breast milk. I went home and pumped my breasts due to cracked and bleeding nipples in an attempt to bring my milk in. Six times a day for weeks and the most I would get would be 4 teaspoons for a whole day tied intermittently to the pump. I never did find out why I never engorged but I felt a failure. It hurt so much not to birth my baby and to never feed her. People asked for days whether my milk had come in and were always quick to offer advice. When my daughter was 6 weeks old I decided to give up the pumping it made me unhappy and I couldnt enjoy the time with my baby. It was the best decision for us both. She has thrived on formula and my husband has bonded during his time
feeding her.

Here are some photos 6 weeks post-partum. I am still carrying a good 20 pounds extra or more and of course a pooch, which you cant see as it is way down, and hangs over my new c-section scar. My weight gain is mainly on my hips, butt and thighs.

I am determined to regain my former figure but in the meantime I should love my body for all its failings. We have a beautiful daughter who is healthy and happy.


Updated here.

17 thoughts on “Jo

  • Friday, October 6, 2006 at 4:36 am

    What a beautiful story. Although it can be so difficult for things to go differently from our expectations, I would gently disagree with the idea that your body has failed you … your body gave you the blessiing of a quick conception and the ability to nurture your daughter in your womb for nine months (and then some!).Here’s to your healthy, happy baby and the hope that you’ll wear a bikini this summer, whether you’ve regained your former figure or not!

  • Friday, October 6, 2006 at 6:18 am

    Your story is wonderfully told and I can tell you have had a rough, emotional ride. But your body is beautiful and your scar hardly noticable. For 6 weeks post partum you hardly have a pooch! You must be blessed with good tummy genes. Promise us you’ll wear a bikini to the beach next summer as your daughter learns to walk in the sand!

  • Friday, October 6, 2006 at 6:39 am

    I think you look great! Not in the way that “you look good for what your body has been through” but in the plain and simple way that you look great!!

  • Friday, October 6, 2006 at 8:06 am

    You have been through alot, Just as i have. It’s an amazing thing. You should be proad of your body and that you tried to breast feed. Many women don’t even try! I breast feed twins. The doctors tried to convince me breast feeding twins would be too hard…and my doctor said “Are you still planning on breast feeding?” I said “One or two..that doesn’t change anything.” So I stuck with it…I was lucky though. I don’t know what I would have done if I couldn’t make milk. You are strong for being proud dispite the lack of breast milk. You sound like a strong person. It’s great to hear from you! ^_^ *hug*

  • Friday, October 6, 2006 at 8:19 am

    What an amazing story. You show courage and stength and you belly is looks great. I wish mine where so small!

  • Friday, October 6, 2006 at 9:03 am

    Coming from a woman that also failed to lactate, YOU TRIED! And that’s all you can ask for.And a good reason you might not have lactated, and had cysts on your ovaries: Look into the possibility of PCOS. It sort of makes sense. And it’s much more common than many doctors think.But, kudos momma! I think your body looks great as is now.HippyFreek

  • Friday, October 6, 2006 at 9:18 am

    It’s painful to see how hard you are on your descriptions of your body, 1) because what I see from your pictures, you have a beautiful shape, and the scars tell a story but look beautiful to me, and 2) because I feel the same way you do about wearing a bikini, yet I think you would totally rock a bikini! May we both find love for our bodies soon! :)

  • Friday, October 6, 2006 at 10:15 am

    You look lovely. So happy about your baby. Since I’ve had my children I don’t look at myself the same way. I don’t really care about the stretch marks. All I care about are the beautiful babies that I made with THIS body! I still find it amazing.

  • Friday, October 6, 2006 at 11:29 am

    Wow! Only six weeks PP?! You look great! :o) I know you can reach your pre-pgcy figure. Thanks for sharing your story. :o)

  • Friday, October 6, 2006 at 3:07 pm

    wow, that doctor was a jerk! how insensitive. and how awful that your husband went thru all that afterward too! you’ve been thru so much. i think – not that it matters – that you look awesome. your scar isn;t bad at all from where i sit. thanks for sharing your story.

  • Friday, October 6, 2006 at 5:22 pm

    Jo, I looked at your pictures and did a double take. I found my tan twin belly, although I am more swollen now because we are expecting our 2nd in March (I haven’t gained weight). Way to be proud of your accomplishments! Our bodies are amazing.

  • Friday, October 6, 2006 at 7:58 pm

    I think your scars are beautiful. Really! It almost looks like the sort of ritual scarification people do in some cultures because they feel it makes them more attractive (Along the same lines as a tattoo. Of course I may be biased in favor of such body modification as I have a tattoo).That story about your husband losing his memory is so strange. I can’t imagine what that must have been like for you to have that happen right after a botched surgery. I can totally see how that would contribute greatly to your distress at the time and your depression afterwards. I also nearly died from complications related to an ovarian cyst, when I was 21 years old. Unbeknownst to me for several months, I had two large cysts on my left ovary that were causing torsion of the ovary. One of the cysts was over a vein, and when it ruptured after an accidental blow to my abdomen, I started bleeding internally. I had already begun going into shock by the time the ER doctors figured out what was wrong with me (at first they thought it was appendicitis, because 21 year olds “don’t get cysts.” Right). The last thing I heard before I went under for my very first surgery was, “We’ll try to save the left ovary, but if the masses are malignant, we might just have to take them both out.” Needless to say, these days I very much appreciate my two intact ovaries. All the more ever since they gave me my little boy :)I am happy to hear your body gave you a healthy child despite really tough odds.

  • Saturday, October 7, 2006 at 6:38 am

    So Nora Ephron said something that made me laugh and think on Oprah the other day… It went something like this…”The things you hated about your body in your 20s and 30s, you’ll be nostaligic for in your 60s”Get into a bikini – I’ll even consider it too.;)

  • Monday, October 9, 2006 at 9:19 am

    what a story. big hugs, sister, i’m almost in tears, over the emotion of it all.i am one who *truly* embraces the battle scars of mommyhood, and i think you look fabulous. of course, i know that my thinking so will not magically make a person agree, but still… :)thank you muchly for sharing your story and photos, and congrats on your baby girl.

  • Tuesday, October 10, 2006 at 12:15 pm

    You look so beautiful! I’m with everyone else – get a bikini next summer! (I will too!)

  • Saturday, October 21, 2006 at 10:24 pm

    Your story is amazing! Thank you for the honest account of how you feel about the events and your own body, it is so refreshing to read hurts and struggles. Most people don’t even want to acknowledge their own burdens, fears or insecurities. First of all, Bravo! to you for facing your ‘stuff’ head on. Secondly, I agree with all the encouragement in the comments section, your scar is really not as bad as I thought it may have been from reading your account, but of course that doesn’t change the way you feel about it, right?My experience has been that loving people can tell me all the truth they know, but I am only truly set free when I embrace and learn that truth for myself. I don’t know if you believe in God, but I am set free by asking him to tell me the truth about my issues. I used to be terrified of dying, but after praying about it, I realized that I don’t need to be afraid, I have love, power and a sound mind. I hope that you can take this as encouragement, and just my way of really telling you that I was touched by your story. I read this yesterday, and couldn’t stop thinking about it, so I thought I should comment. God bless you and help you to see the truth: that you are beautiful!

  • Tuesday, January 5, 2010 at 10:55 am

    thank you for sharing. I know the c secton and not being able to breastfeed how it feels. I felt a failure too.

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