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.


Anonymous said...

I love you for your fierceness and beauty and strength.

Tina Rowley said...

Oh, Stells. Right back to you.

vcmcguire said...

I am also too ample up top to be what you'd call perky. A friend showed me her breast reduction scars and after effects and I was tempted. Good for you for having the courage to do it.

Unknown said...

Can you I believe I still haven't seen Bright Star? I love Jane Campion, too, so I must get around to see it. I think Abbie Cornish will be a huge star and...Oh. And THAT OTHER THING YOU SHARED? Nicely done! (pass that on to your surgeon, too.)

Bravo, Tina. I can't possibly love you any more, can I? Yes. Yes, it's possible..she typed, her warm heart bursting open. Medic!

P.S. We haaave to talk...

Tina Rowley said...


About a week after I did it, I was thinking WHAT THE HELL HAVE I DONE?! But now I'm pleased. Thank you, sugar.


YES. "Bright Star" was not fucking around. Abbie Cornish: who knew? And Ben Whishaw? And Kerry Fox? And Paul Schneider and and and and everybody just brought it.

I hereby challenge you, however, to love me more! Do it! I'll do it if you will. Let's get more-ish on this whole love thing. Meet you there, more.

Christine E. Taylor said...

There is no plastic surgery in the world that could make you any sexier than you are in that there writing piece.
My GOD, you are something.

Fearless, snappy, funny as hell, honest, fresh, stacked, perky ... I love reading you. I want to feel up your brain.

Tina Rowley said...

Christine: Well, now, damn. That is just deluxe. Thank you so much, honeypot. I'll just screw off my top hat and you can have at it.

stacy said...

I found a link to your blog on another site - hope you don't mind an interloper reading your stuff. LOVED this post. I'm at the point where my husband and I are considering having a baby and I admit, these are things I worry about!
You nailed it perfectly by being ashamed and not ashamed at the same time. Ha! Good for you.

Tina Rowley said...

Of course I don't mind, Stacy, and thank you. There are changes to your body with motherhood, it's true, but it varies so widely from person to person. My figure got attacked on the more ferocious end of the spectrum. You could get off pretty easy. You never know.

The physical changes are NOTHING, though, compared to the total upheaval in every other area of your life. It's a beautiful upheaval but it is NOT. FUCKING. AROUND. But you've heard this 1000 times by now, I'm sure. Good luck with your decision. You really can't lose, ultimately. Two very fine and exciting roads.

Anonymous said...

Eeeek! I'm glad I found this post (through Finslippy, I think). Good for you for going for it.

I have abdominoplasty & breast reduction booked for this May and I am afraid of the recovery.
Similar reasons: First baby left me a bit pudgy but okay. Then I had full term, full size twins at the age of 39, and now there is something seriously wrong with my belly. It looks like I'm waiting for a joey to come back and hop in. I was always planning to have breast reduction after kids (F now, not much bigger than before), now the tummy really does need fixing too.

So, I gather it hurt? I am really dreading it. I have had two c-sections with easy recoveries, but I am afraid this is in a whole new league.

Alexandra said...

Finslippy sent me here. How ARE you now?? As of Jan 5? Would you do it over again?

Dana said...

Four children here, including full-term twins who ripped a three to four-inch crater down the center of my belly. I'm doing the surgery as soon as I save the money!
Congratulations to you for being so forthcoming.

Tina Rowley said...

Anonymous: Well, you know, yeah. It did hurt. Yes, indeedy. But I'm kind of lame with pain. I had a c-section with my first, and the recovery for me was awful. I bet if your c-section recoveries were easy, then you should be in pretty good stead to weather this business. Good luck!

Dana: Four children. Woman, my hat is off to you, that you have four children and here you are, not dead, commenting on my blog. Good for you, I say.

Tina Rowley said...

Oh, and hello, Empress! I've answered your question in a new post.

Sarah said...

I love you for your perky tits and flat belly. Also for the gangland scars. Little bit for the writing.

Tina Rowley said...

Sarah: Well, I love YOU for your perky tits and flat belly and gangland scars, too. I mean, I think those are some of the things. Look, I'm not sure. We've just met. But I think it's promising.

Square Peaches said...

I found you through Finslippy... I must say Bravo! I would do it in a heartbeat if I had the money, even though I am a bit of a fraidy-cat when it comes to being put under.

After two kids, a c-section, & an emergency surgery for a ruptured fallopian tube, my stomach definitely bears the scars of war. And I love "skin apron!" I've never heard that one before - think I like it better than Fupa (which is my pet name for it).

Not to mention the boobs... they blew up to DD when I was pregnant/nursing but have deflated to D's (at least that's the size bra I wear when I fold them up to put into the cups!); if they went down to C's, I could care less, as long as they are closer to my collar bone than my navel!

I look forward to reading more of your site.

Tina Rowley said...

Square Peaches: (<--delightful name!) (Fupa is also pretty sweet.) I hear you. Oh, yes. And thank you for coming by and looking around. It's so nice to have people reading the joint, here.

Kathy at The Junk Drawer said...

"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" "

Laughing like a hyena here.

Aimee said...

[found you via everyone else, it seems!]

THANK you for this post. I have committed myself to a lift when I reach my goal weight. Stacked + downward-pointers + kids + 120 lbs. overweight + lost most of it = OMG. Deflated balloons have nothing on me.

I so appreciate your sharing your experience. I'm not looking forward to the process, but I SO am to the results.