It’s one of those things they don’t tell you about.
A full year after delivering her first child via an emergency C-section, Kari Horn noticed a bulge the size of a golf ball just above her belly button was causing her major discomfort. “I could take a single bite of food, and it would feel ‘stuck’ in that spot and make me feel full,” she explained, comparing the sensation to bloating. The bulge would pop whenever Kari flexed her stomach or leaned backward, and it made deep breathing unusually arduous, especially when she held her little boy.
After a coworker urged Kari to finally see a doctor about the issue, she was diagnosed with an umbilical hernia, which occurs when the stomach muscles don’t join completely and the intestine, or other tissues bulge through this weak spot around the belly button. Her doctors explained that umbilical hernias are often related to carrying a relatively big baby — and Kari’s son weighed 8 pounds and 13 ounces when he was born.
When Kari went in for surgery to have the hernia repaired, her doctors realized she’d actually been suffering from three hernias simultaneously. Ouch. Several months later, she’s still recovering from both her C-section and hernia procedure, suffering from stabbing pains when she moves in certain ways. “It hurt to wear low-rise jeans with my C-section scar, but now it hurts to wear high-rise jeans with my hernia repair,” she says. However, “the hernia repair has really been the worst, I’d take another C-section recovery over this.”
To raise awareness about these potential issues, Kari recently posted a photo of her stomach on Instagram, declaring, “The parts of motherhood they don’t talk about much”:
Sometimes, despite what your dream of child birth is, you have to have an emergency C-section. Sometimes, no matter how much coconut and vitamin E oil you put on your pregnant belly, you still get all of the stretch marks. Sometimes, even when your baby is now a toddler, you find out that you have not one, but three umbilical hernias, and you have to get your abs and muscles cut into again. Then sometimes you’re allergic to the bandaging the doctor used and end up with burns and a rash all over your already sore tummy. Yet, despite the fact that I may not have much of a belly button after all of this, I’m really only worried about how I’m going to get all of that stitch glue out of my belly button haha. Mothers are the real MVPs. Don’t hate on yourselves, ladies. You’re beautiful no matter how many scars you get.
Kari wrote about the postpartum body she’s now coming to terms with: “I was upset at first because my hernia incision ended up being in a different spot than what was expected, and because of that, my belly button is kind of … squished-looking,” she says. Nonetheless, she embraces her post-baby figure and is “just fine with” her appearance — it’s the possibility of chronic pain that understandably worries her most.
Like most moms, Kari is a bad-ass warrior who’s earned her “stripes,” and she imparted this message to other mothers who may be grappling with their own postpartum struggles: “Don’t hate on yourselves, ladies. You’re beautiful no matter how many scars you get.”