That's my belly up there. At least as far as that picture goes, it looks pretty good for a person who has never had a gym membership of any kind and last went for a run in 1988, but still, pictures have a wonderful way of looking like the truth while lying through their every pixel. Had you been in the room with me, you would have seen me arching my back, arranging my t-shirt to better shape my torso, and sucking that baby in for all I was worth. Also, overexposure helps.
I took that picture to show off what my new bellybutton looks like. My old bellybutton, the one I had before my hysterectomy last year, was perfect. I loved it. It was one of the few parts of my body that I actually liked. It was perfectly oval and fairly symmetrical and terrifically deep, and I had a sweet little ring through the top of it. During my surgery, which was done laparoscopically, four small incisions were made in my abdomen, and one of them was made inside my belly button, accidentally nicking the top part of it as they did so. Then they inflated my torso so full of gas that I looked eight months pregnant for a week afterward.
I am not kidding about the amount they inflated me, either. Friends who came to see me during that period looked at me with genuine alarm, and because I did not start farting out the gas on schedule, I just about had to go to emergency to have a hole poked into me like you would pop a balloon with a pin. Thankfully, I started farting almost a week later and continued to fart for the entire week after that. I was a gas.
What I am trying to illustrate is that I went from a relatively normal size to eight months along over the course of several hours and then stayed that way for a week. When I finally deflated and could remove my bandages, my stomach looked crêpelike and pale, like the loose bun dough that would rise under teatowels in my mother's kitchen. I had the belly of a mother.
Having the belly of a mother would have been fine if I had children, but the shape of my belly was born of quite the opposite procedure. All chance of physical procreation had been taken from me, hacked into tiny bits and vacuumed out of my insides, and it seemed so unfair to be left with a stomach that seemed to mock my condition. Ha, ha. Your body looks like it did but it never will. It was my cruellest joke.
I have been alternating between loathing and ignoring that part of my anatomy for the last year, but I decided to brave it yesterday and take a good, long look at that stomach of mine. The crinkly texture was mostly gone! It did not hang as loosely as it had the last time I'd checked! The scars were pearlizing to a light sheen! It was looking pretty damn good!
The bellybutton, though, the thing I have always liked most of all, now looks like a wrinkly, bald vagina. I don't even like bald vaginas on adult women, and now I have a miniature version of one right above my beltline.
There once was a belly - none finer -
Whose texture was that of bone china.
Docs cut through its button
and rendered it mutton.
Now it looks like a bald vagina.