"Ohmygosh," I remarked to my husband, "it feels like just a hole. There's nothing underneath."
I was laying on the carpet in a semi-crunch position, checking my diastasis recti a few months after delivering Baby #2.
The gap was wider than I had expected it to be. Three fingers wide, which, now that I know I had been using the incorrect form (shoulders should stay on the ground) the gap was probably more like a four. Not only did my stomach feel like a mushy mound of goo, I was horrified at the feeling of nothingness that existed inside that gap. It felt like a bottomless chasm.
What I later learned is that there's tissue that connects the two sides of the rectus abdominals (the upper layer of muscle or your "six-pack") right down the center called the linea alba. As you can imagine, during pregnancy that tissue, along with the transverse abdominus, stretch to the max to make room for the little miracle setting up camp there. That tissue, unfortunately, is not elastic. So once it is stretched out, it can take time to return to a semblance of normal. For many women with a diastasis recti and weakened transverse, that tissue never has a chance to rebuild.
In that moment, laying on the floor, it just felt weird. Really, really weird.
Having given up on the Tupler Method book, subsequent Amazon searches helped me to find a new book. Exercise After Pregnancy: How to Look and Feel Your Best, by Helene Byrne, was the book that made me feel confident that I could finally be diastasis-free!
The book starts off an easy-to-understand explanation of the anatomy of your abdominals - without scaring the snot out of you (like that other book).
Then come three sets of exercises, starting with a sequence for beginners, then becoming progressively more difficult as strength improves. The explanations for each exercise are a bit lengthy, but each move is accompanied with a series of photographs to help illustrate what you are supposed to do.
Of course, now I know that many of the exercises described in the book do not actually work your transverse in the best way. Positions that instruct you to be on the floor on all fours, or want you to lay on your side or back are not the most beneficial for a weakened core. I don't believe the moves would make a diastasis worse, but they're not necessarily making it any better.
I was oblivious to that information, though, all those three-odd years ago. I used that book every other day, religiously, for months. Eventually, I checked my diastasis again and, to my great relief, could easily feel the linea alba tissue underneath my fingertips. I no longer had a bottomless chasm.
But I did still have a diastasis. And it was hanging in there at around three fingers wide.
The problem I had with the book was that I was unsure about when it was time to advance to the next level. I didn't necessarily feel strong enough to move from beginner to intermediate, but after a month or so of the same exercises, it seemed like I should be moving on to something.
More importantly my tummy did not feel much firmer after months of half-hour core work every other day.
My search continued.....