Saturday, December 11, 2010

the lines

Fuck it. That's my lead-in. I'm leading in with "fuck it".

So I've been laid up for a month and I've been cagey about why and now finally I'm over myself and now I'm going to tell you why and I'm going to talk about it. Because: fuck it!

It's going to be long. Get a cup of coffee or a drink.

I had plastic surgery. Yes, I did. I had two kinds at once. (Fuck it, she said so blithely up there. Like it was going to be a piece of cake. Readers, I apologize for the perpetual hemming and hawing, but I'm including it because it's part of the deal. I may be acting like I'm unashamed, and I AM unashamed, but I'm also ashamed so let's get used to holding two opposing thoughts at the same time. I know I better get used to it.) (And clearly the unashamed part is winning because here we are, you and I, and the topic is plastic surgery and we both know it.)

Abdominoplasty, or its horrible layman's term consort, "tummy tuck", and mastopexy - no problem - breast lift.

And fuck it, I say again, and please know that I'll probably say it again a few more times before we're through. The worst part's over. I said what it was. Whew. Now I can get to the good part. The defense, if I need one, and the relishing, which I'm going to relish.

Let's talk about the tummy tuck first. So I have two boys. Finn, my firstborn, screwed up the joint a little bit on his way out. Can't be helped, right? Most mothers end up with a little looser skin on their tummies, and while I wasn't excited about it, I grew not to mind it. Then I remember reading some blog post about the blessed French again, and how there's an acknowledged place for the sexily fecund look of a mother's soft tummy. And last night I watched Louis C.K's stand-up special "Chewed Up", which ends with him talking about the difference between girls and women, and how he prefers women, and he says, " me you're not a woman until you've had a couple of kids and your life is in the toilet....that's really...when you become a woman is when people come out of your vagina and step on your dreams. If you're still standing after that shit, you are a WOMAN." (If you haven't seen it, do it. Louis C.K. is a goddamn genius. Here you go: Chewed Up. You're welcome.) So, where was I? Right. Finn, and his initial loosening up of my skin. Livable. And then Fred came along, and Fred was like "How can I make my mark? What shall I do? How can I outdo my brother?" So Fred reaaaaallly fucked up the place during his exit. He passed by my left hip, for one, and apparently reached in and grabbed the labrum (ring of soft tissue in the hip joint) and just tore it with his bare hands for no reason, "You're not going to use this right? Cool, I'm just going to RRRAGGRHHHtearrrrRRrip" which has rendered the thing occasionally painful to walk on forever. Sometimes I can't feel it at all and sometimes (rarely, thankfully) I get shot in the hip randomly for no reason and can barely walk. But his real work was in utero as he grew, and it was tandem work with my skin. Because when Fred came out, what was once - optimistically - "sexily fecund" became something completely different.

Completely different. I'm going to just throw a few words and phrases out there. Skin apron. (Yes, I said it.) 85 year-old Ukrainian grandmother. You know, I think that's enough. Yes. What was left went so far past anything I'm willing to live with. For one thing, I'm not through with sex in this lifetime. No, no, I'm not. And that THING tried to say differently. That THING suggested that not only was I done, but I'd been done for years and years. Well, fuck you, thing. Let me introduce you to a man. He has a knife. Goodbye. And the thing was ruining the lines of my clothes. It wasn't a plumpness, something I could whittle away with a little activity and careful diet. No, that's what I had after Finn, and that's what I did. No, this was new territory. And it made getting dressed this exhausting exercise in trompe l'oeil. No skirts, no dresses, baroque requirements for all tops. Highlight the waist but run away from the thing! Oh, stop it. Set me free. I have enough to worry about.

I wrestled with the idea. Is this cool? Is this lame? Is this going to bespeak some insecurity that's worse than the thing itself? Am I selling my God-given body short? Am I trying to erase the passage of my children? Am I somehow going to be less authentic? I thought deeply about all these things. Answers: Yes, no, no, no, no and hell no.

Now, the breast lift. Hm. How much do I want to talk about this? Well, I'm here, we're underway, I guess I might as well. One of the things I liked about this idea was that it automatically means a little bit of reduction. Before I had kids I was already, how you say, stacked. And gravity was against me from the first, from the very beginning as a pre-teen when they first rapidly made their appearance. But post-motherhood, I'd settled into a ridiculous F cup, and the best word for that situation is "unsustainable". An F cup makes all kinds of demands, physical and aesthetic, and...yes. Unsustainable. And you know, for years as a young girl I was self-conscious about the size and shape of my breasts. I figured that all breakups were traceable to this fact, and the length of any given relationship was merely a reflection of the extent of the chivalry alive in the boyfriend in question. (And then I grew up.) So I didn't mind them any more, had plenty of evidence that they were okay, and they nursed both kids heroically, so I know that I only owe them a debt of gratitude. And I am grateful for all they've done for me. But I just, you know, fuck it. Wanted them a little smaller and a little farther north. Just fuck it. And now they're a perfectly ample and much more reasonable D. D for delightful!

So it's done. It's all done. November 8th I went in for somewhere between 6 and 7 hours of surgery. It went well, but the recovery has been insanely slow and uncomfortable and sort of awful. Lots of medications doing lots of creepy things to me. Vicodin giving me night after night of lurid, horrifying dreams. Tramadol, its replacement for one day, nearly killing me (truth. bad reaction. terrifying.). Just lots and lots of pain and stuckness. Trapped feeling. On the plus side, though, I've had lots of time for reflection. Lots of time to watch movies. (Here are some more Netflix recommendations: Ballerina, a documentary about five Russian ballerinas from the Kirov Ballet. My favorite is Diana Vishneva, who's technically imperfect and almost goofily beautiful but incredibly expressive, arguably the greatest artist among them. And I've never even particularly cared for ballet! They're incredible, these dancers, and the film is so good. And also Bright Star, Jane Campion's film about John Keats and Fanny Brawne. Totally exquisite. Visually stunning. The actors are almost frighteningly alive and intelligent, to a one, even the children. I cried myself berserk.) (I like to think I've given you a nice range to pick from now, when we drag Louis C.K. back into it.)

Now we come to the part that I'm the most excited to talk about, the note I'm going to end on: the results, which I'm happy about. Everything looks good, natural. Cute and human. Not too far, nothing artificial-looking. Very well done, Dr. Downey. And even better, there are my scars! I was so worried about them, but now I love them. They're kind of violent. There's a searing-looking scar from hip to hip, and some gentler ones up top. But they tell a story that I like even better than the story that my body told left to its own devices. Motherhood is violent in its extremes of pain and beauty. I like having a scar that speaks to that, and speaks to where I draw the line for myself.