That Time I Had Surgery & Didn't Tell Anybody.
*Disclaimer: Things are about to get personal, so if you feel like this will make our relationship weird, you best check out now. Thanks so much, and have a nice day. Basically, if you’re a male, WALK AWAY. I’m serious.
*Disclaimer #2: If you have experienced pregnancy, breastfeeding, sex, or plan to in the future, this will most likely give you some feelings. What kind of feelings? Well, that’s up to you.
Breastfeeding was the icing on the cake of having a baby. Those were some of my favorite moments every day of that first year. If Blake and I were planning to have more biological babes in the future, I’d be praying for as good of a breastfeeding experience with each of them. Since we’re in the adoption process, though, my breasts became body parts again, as opposed to a constantly flowing bottle of goodness. That being said, I couldn’t get over my feelings every time I looked in the mirror topless.
I’ve never been thrilled with my chest. Before pregnancy, I was a small B. I had to get my wedding dress altered a handful of times back in the day because they just couldn’t get it small enough around the boob area. #Awesome
But then pregnancy happened, and they grew. And then grew some more. I remember when the girl helping me buy nursing bras told me to plan to be a full D, I almost forgot how to speak. And lo and behold, she wasn’t kidding. I don’t think I could wear any of my normal shirts for six months. I was a breastfeeding/pumping machine, and my boobs acted like they were out to save the world.
And then that first year passed, we stopped nursing, and my boobs deflated. Some people describe post-nursing boobs as empty tube socks. Not cool, guys. And it’s not like other body party where you can work it off. Those kiddos had done their deed and they were just going to chill for the rest of their lives. I was about okay with this as I am with unrefrigerated “cheese.”
I gave myself space. Just take a few months, Jenna. Your body has been through a lot, and it’s probably still adjusting back to normal. Don’t freak out. Then a few months rolled by, and I continued to be grossed out with my wrinkled boob reflection. Something had to change. I was twenty-six years old and was trying to figure out how to survive life with these useless boobs for the rest of my life, and that made me sad.
I contacted a plastic surgeon I had heard great things about from a few people I know and scheduled a consultation. If you want to spend an afternoon getting your boobs analyzed by a professional, just go to one of these consultations—it’s SO FUN! No, you guys. It wasn’t fun at all. My doctor was a female because you better believe I wouldn’t put myself through this trauma with a male five inches away from me. She hasn’t been in the room for one minute before she opens your gown and takes a few pictures.There is measuring and questions like, Has your right one always been larger than your left? She also asked in all seriousness if I was wanting to be a D-cup. No! I half-gasped. I just want to feel normal.
If you’re up for it, they go ahead and schedule your second consultation for sizing and blood works as well as your actual surgery while you’re there. I did because obviously I did not just go through all of this for the laughs.
This appointment took place in August, and my surgery was scheduled for the end of October. I was never excited about the surgery. It made me feel uncomfortable and guilty. I was the hamster, and this was my wheel of thoughts:
- Just because you don’t like your body doesn’t mean you get surgery.
- Plastic surgery is so vain. There are real, big problems happening in this world. How could you spend your money on this?
- What kind of damage will this do to your daughter when you tell her you elected to have plastic surgery? On your boobs?
That was pretty much my thought process, and a short bit after that first consultation, I called and cancelled my surgery.
Fast forward to December. The surgery was on my mind again. This time, I asked myself why I wanted the surgery, and I let myself have some space to give an honest answer. This is what I came up with:
- I never want my husband to see me. And I would definitely always have a shirt on during sex if I could.
That was pretty much it. My concern was for my body to be my husband’s as much as my own again. Am I saying that all women who breastfeed need to get a boob job for the sake of their sex life? No. But I did.
The surgery was back on—this time for January 11th at 5:30AM. It was a Monday. When I walked in the dr’s office for my final consultation, the receptionist and nurse cheering, Are you SO excited?? I faked an ohmygosh YES! because I knew I should be excited and would be in the near future, but on this today, I was mainly just anxious.
So the day before surgery, I took Collins to my mom’s house and Blake and I went to our community group just like any Sunday night. While everyone went home to watch the Golden Globes, we drove to Tyler to stay in a hotel a few minutes from the outpatient surgery center. At this point, I had told four people—my mom (so she would watch Collins), Blake’s mom (in case I needed more help that week), my dad (that was fun, but Blake works for him so he had to take two days off), and my friend, Ramie who went through pregnancy and breastfeeding with me at the same time. As far as anyone else knew, it was just a typical Monday. I didn’t tell anyone yet mainly because I was still pretty nervous about the whole thing, and nobody wants to hear your worries over a surgery you elected for (This isn’t necessarily true. This was just my reasoning.). I was frustrated about feeling the need for surgery, scared about the ramifications of such a permanent decision, and it just wouldn’t be me if I didn’t second-guess the money until I was knocked unconscious.
We arrived at the hospital before bright and early stood a chance. I finished reading Glennon Doyle Melton’s Carry On Warrior, which had me thinking big things for such an early hour. They took us back to get prepped, and I changed into the loveliest outfit you could ever wish for. I’m kind of wishing we had a few pictures now for laughs, but you’ll have to imagine my description for yourself: a creased gown with a pattern resembling 1980’s blue wallpaper, a hairnet, and mauve gripper socks. I appreciated the socks because it was cold (5:30 on a January morning in a surgery ward doesn’t scream tropics, you know?), and the nurse brought me a blanket too. The anesthesiologist came to meet us, and I realized in that moment I never considered a male might be in the surgery room. Half of me cringed like I did during those first pictures, and the other half refused to back out now— especially because not one, but two nurses were currently trying to work an IV into my arm, and I would like to repeat that never. My doctor came in and drew a bunch of lines on my chest with black marker (#confidenceboost) before leaving for the OR.
I remember feeling a little weird about walking into that clean, white room with an overload of tools and mechanisms. I lay down on the table, and the anesthesiologist told me he was giving me the medicine and it would burn for a minute.
And then I took a two-hour nap.
The surgery lasted a little over an hour and then a nurse hung out with me in recovery until I woke up. Right as I was waking up, she said, How are you feeling? And matter-of-factly, I replied, Good, how are you? She took that as a sign of being good to go, so she wheeled me into the room where Blake sat, and a few minutes later, we were on our way home.
The medicine still had me pretty loopy, but Blake was told I needed to eat something. Like a champ, Blake spoon-fed potato soup from McAlister’s across the middle console of the car to me while I sat there, unable to move my arms with just enough coordination to open my mouth and swallow. We hadn’t thought about the affect the surgery would have on my arms, but considering my pec muscles had just been through an operation, it came as no surprise that I couldn’t use my arms much. Just behind McAlister’s was an Office Depot, so Blake decided he would go find a pillow of some sort for my arms to rest on during the drive home. Okay, if I had been more with it, I might have thought about the options within that store. Which is probably why Blake walked back to the car with a giant bag of packing peanuts. Did I care? No, sir. Those packing peanuts were my bff the whole drive.
I was told the first week would be emotional—possibly a lot of questioning as well as pain. This was about as accurate as we could sum up week one. I missed Collins and felt sad that I couldn’t take care of her. I’d only planned for her to stay with my mom for two nights, but she ended up staying for five because I couldn’t hold her and the medicine made me feel pretty terrible. I felt frustrated because this pain was elected—I wasn’t sick or in need of a major surgery. I had just seen an episode of Parenthood when Julia takes soup to another mom because she had just had surgery. Once they start talking though, she finds out it was an elective breast surgery, and Julia thinks it’s the dumbest thing ever she was asked to bring her soup—which I totally agree! Granted, I know asking strangers for soup and telling friends you are having a tough recovery, elective surgery or not, is different, but I decided not to tell anyone else yet.
Every week, things were significantly better than the previous week. I stopped taking prescription pain medicine and gained some confidence after Collins and I made it through our first day at home just the two of us.
I told my Supper Club and Community Group girls, and their response lifted a lot of questioning from my mind—which is one reason I would advise someone else to talk about it in the moment, even if it’s just to a special one or two people. It wasn’t the need of approval that provided relief. It was girls my age who said Yes, I get it! There was common ground—even if there were some who would never get the surgery or even agree with it. They still heard me and understood.
If you are a mom who’s been through the whole breastfeeding game, you are not alone in this. You do not need to feel ashamed for not enjoying that part of your post-baby body. Boobs aren’t like abs—you can’t eat and exercise their way back to happiness. They’ve journeyed a long road of putting baby first non-stop for however long, and you know, that’s a massive accomplishment and gift. And if you’re just so proud of your new figure for what it has done for you and your family, I am over the moon for you. Seriously. Part of me wishes I could be joyful in that. But I wasn’t. I’ve always been sensitive about my body (as many girls are), and I wanted to feel strength when I saw myself in the mirror, and that meant some change for me. I didn’t want to be huge or draw attention to myself. I just wanted to feel like me.
For the record, Blake never gave any opinion on this. I would never ever ever recommend getting surgery because your husband wants you to. He made it clear this was my decision. He was happy with me then, and he would be happy with me later, if I decided to do this surgery. But he wanted it to be for me if I did it—and it was.
Physical beauty only does so much or goes so far. There isn’t any magic in it. I did not gain magical powers nor did it improve my personality. It changed one thing, and one thing only—the appearance of my chest, which really isn’t for anyone but my husband and myself.
As far as my daughter is concerned, I have the deepest devotion to her inner beauty. That is what will always define her—nothing else. That will be my focus as she grows up. Will I tell her about this surgery? Most likely, when the time is right. I want our relationship to be honest, so my example is required. Plus, I want her to understand situations are not always black and white—there is usually a lot of gray involved. To me, this is a gray area. I used to think plastic surgery was pure vanity and a fat waste of money. But this was far from vanity. In fact, I’d venture to say it was sacrifice. One of the ways women best fight for their husbands is through physical touch, and I want to fully embrace that opportunity. This is simply one way I’m making that happen.
But we have to remember, like physical beauty is minor in comparison to inner beauty, a physical change does not miraculously fix an emotional situation, which sex very much is for both husband and wife. This is simply a small step. Not to look like a Victoria’s Secret model. Not to have Hollywood movie sex. Simply to physically feel like myself so that in a situation that is as much physical as emotional, I am not concerned about my physical side and am able to focus on our emotional side together.
I would feel as loved today if I did not have surgery. Surgery fixes nothing beneath the surface and does not satisfy in a deep way. To change a physical feature for a heart issue will never connect.
I know some of you may not agree with my decision, and that’s okay! It took me months of searching before I came to this conclusion, and that was only once I was in this situation. I also went back and forth on sharing this publicly, but if this could help anyone feel understood or releases guilt from anyone’s mind, that’s all I can ask.