OldDogNewTits












Today is my boy’s birthday. He is 13, an age I remember both fondly and with humility. Am I having trouble with the idea of being a mother to a teenager? Yes, but not for the reasons you might think. Sure, it ages me a little but, more importantly, it ages him. And I’m not a fan of that. At all. If I may quote every single mother/human before me … WHERE DID THE TIME GO?

It seems like only yesterday that Dave and I, after a lengthy battle with infertility, found ourselves expecting a baby. Then, there was the bed rest, ten weeks of it to be exact, until the doctors were sure I was ready to get back on my feet for my second and third trimesters. And I’ll never forget spending a quiet evening at home on Friday, October 15. We knew the baby was coming soon but I figured we had at least another week. So, I whipped up two of the worst grilled cheese sandwiches ever made and we settled in to eat them over an episode of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. (Well, I promised always to tell the truth around here, didn’t I?)

That’s when it happened. Somewhere between the charred cheese and the talking black cat puppet, I felt my first contraction. But I decided it wasn’t the real thing, and that I wanted a shower. Dave wasn’t so sure so he called the doctor. I heard him ask a lot of questions and then walk over to the other side of the shower curtain with a stopwatch to determine how much time was passing between each of my sudden yelps of pain. I held fast to my belief that it was nothing until he opened the curtain and said it was time to go to the hospital. “Fine,” I remember saying. “But I need to dry my hair first.” Which I did. Stopping often to grab my stomach in blinding pain at increasingly closer intervals during the inexplicably important hair drying process.

We jumped into the car with my already-packed suitcase and started off for the hospital. Every bump we hit (and there were plenty thanks to my home city of New Orleans) felt like someone had pegged me with a bowling ball. My pain was significantly intensified by the time we arrived. But Dave and I were very prepared. We had taken the Lamaze classes we’ve all seen portrayed on TV sitcoms since the 70s. I tried, I really did, but the pain was coming faster and more fiercely by the minute. So, when they asked me whether I wanted the epidural and started in with all the standardized questions, I spat out something to the nurse that Dave still quotes to this day.

“I don’t care if you have to give it to me IN MY EYE! Just give me the epidural! NOW!”

I like to think every woman is as feisty before her medication. And I was a total lamb afterwards. Aside from my needing an oxygen mask and something to help with the shakes I was experiencing, I was a model patient. A patient, unfortunately, whose wonderful female doctor was out of town at a medical conference. So, it was with my feet in the stirrups that I met my handsome, young, male stand-in doctor. I literally shook his hand between my knees. I think whole chapters of “That Awkward Moment When” books could be written about that moment in my life.

But stand-in doctor did great. With the assistance of a surgical tool or two, my baby was out in no time. “It’s a boy!” I heard someone say. I have no idea who. There were so many people in the room, including Dave and my mom, and I was a mess. I remember someone bringing him and placing him on my chest almost immediately. I’ve never cried so instantly in my life. And the moment I saw his tiny face I knew that I was looking at “Dean” … not any of the other choices we’d considered like Duncan or Abraham, two names that now seem as weird to me as naming him Blanket or Pilot Inspektor.

This whole experience of becoming a mom has been more powerful than I could ever have imagined. There is not a day that my boy doesn’t make me smile, make me proud and make me realize how lucky I am and have been for thirteen years. It’s impossible to try to sum up a baker’s dozen of Dean years so I decided to share an old poem I wrote as a new mom when he was one week away from celebrating his first birthday. Up ’til now, only about five people have ever read it. I still remember that day. I was putting him down for a nap and the world stopped spinning for a few minutes while I totally lost myself in my boy. And I felt compelled to write about it as soon as I left the room. Today, I’m giving you that twelve-year-old poem (uncut … ugh) in all of its weepy, sleep-deprived, dripping-with-sentiment glory.

Falling Asleep

(written October 9, 2000)

*

The steady sound of the rocker

Back and forth

And back

And forth

Is enough to lull me into the deepest of sleeps

*

But I look at my small son and he is awake

He clutches his gums and coming teeth

And cries in pain, looking to me for comfort

And I realize we’re not going to sleep

*

We find the medicine to soothe his sore mouth

And he excitedly sucks it down, as he is learning its meaning

We again turn out the light and on the soft music

And begin to rock

But he continues to cry and squirm

And I realize we’re not going to sleep

*

Still wriggling and grasping his gums

My son is now grunting and holding his breath

I know what’s happening, but I must find out for sure

The hard way, of course

And as I remove my finger from the quick inspection

I know, oh yes, he’s been very busy

And on again go the lights for a quick change before naptime

*

The lights go out and the music resumes

We return to the rocker for the third time

The pain is still present but sleep is overtaking him

I sit in the dark watching his eyes

Close and open, close and open

Almost crossing in his complete exhaustion

The final close comes suddenly

And I realize we are finally going to sleep

*

But the arm and the tightly clenched fist are still high in the air

Fighting the inevitable sleep, even in his subconscious

Then, all his muscles begin to relax and the arm comes down

A soft, small noise of defeat comes from his mouth, now agape in his deepening sleep

The right arm flails one more time, in a last act of resistance

But it is too late, his baby dreams are coming

*

And as I stare at his tiny sleeping face in the dark

I wonder … How can I ever be so frustrated or angry

At one so innocent and small?

I stand to carry him to his bed and he does not wake

So much has happened in this first year

He has made me a mother

*

And I feel my eyes glistening as I look up and thank God

For the most beautiful face I’ve ever seen

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- Happy Birthday, Dean -

I love you more than I could have ever thought possible.

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It was 6:40 in the morning. We should have been up already. Dave had to get to work. Fortunately, he was usually pretty fast at getting himself together and out of the door. My nearly two-year-old son was mercifully still asleep in his crib when I stirred, realizing I had to pee.

I lay on the bed lazily an extra ten minutes before I remembered the test. I was supposed to take a test this morning! And, with that, I jumped out of bed next to a still unconscious Dave and bolted to the bathroom. I’d left the box on the counter the night before to remind myself in the morning. I had to pee pretty badly by this point so I was very glad that I was no longer a novice to these tricky little packages. Far from it actually. At that point in time, I’d probably broken the seal, fruitlessly, on at least four dozen of them. So I tore into it and got to work, careful (I think) not to pee on my own hands. When I was done, I set the life-altering plastic stick on a square of tissue on the back of the toilet. And then I left the room.

Over the years, I learned that it was not a good idea for me to linger in the bathroom, staring at my fate. It was painful to see the all-too-familiar single line spreading across the window. I was better off back in my bed with my eyes closed, preparing myself for the probable disappointment that I’d come to know so well. So I returned to my bed and fished the old stopwatch out of my night stand and clicked the button. I decided to wait five minutes this time, instead of my usual three, just so I could be really sure. I hated trying to interpret whether or not a fuzzy line was actually there. It was just cruel. I closed my eyes but found them fluttering open to check the clicking of the numbers on the LCD screen about every thirty seconds.

4:57 … 4:58 … 4:59 …. 5:00.

I stood to return to the bathroom, braced for the usual negative result. I didn’t even bother to wake Dave up for these things anymore. What was the point really? He could spend that time sleeping, instead of consoling a monthly basket case. I walked into the bathroom and approached the back of the toilet. The room was still a little dim in the early morning light so I opened the window shade. And, blinking my sleepy eyes, it was so obvious. There was no interpretation needed. It was like someone had taken a Sharpie and scratched in that second line.

“Holy crap,” I remember whispering audibly.

Then, as an uncontrolled smile pealed across my cheeks, I grabbed the urine-soaked stick from the back of the toilet, ran back in the bedroom and flung it at a still-sleeping Dave. (In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the most hygienic decision I’ve ever made.) He woke immediately and thankfully was able to, through his sleepy fog, put everything together.

And he shared my joy, which made it all the better. It was clear he’d be late for work that day but he didn’t even seem to mind. He hugged me and we lay there, talking quietly about our big news. Telling our little boy, our families, our friends. Calculating the arrival date. And fantasizing. It was a wonderful little moment in our lives.

Until he reached for the remote to turn on the morning news around 7:50. After that, we decided to wait a while to share our news. It was such a strange time in the world.

* * * * * * * * *

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Oh, but I love my girl so much. And I’ll never forget the morning I learned she was coming.

* * * * * * * * *

That’s how I spent MY morning on September 11, 2001.

What about YOU?

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{August 31, 2011}   Convincing Myself

I grew up in the 80s at a time when cosmetic surgery was really coming into its own.  And I can still remember seeing these early efforts on the handful of face-lifted ladies at our church with stretched out, Bruce Jenner-esqued features as well as on the ridiculously pointy noses of younger WASPy girls from families with way too much money.  And, even though the result was a little alien back then, I can still remember being oddly intrigued by the ability of these women to “correct” what they perceived as their shortcomings through modern medicine.

Girls talk about this kind of stuff.  All girls. “If you could fix one part of your body with plastic surgery, what would you do?”  Everyone has an answer to this question. My nose … my eyes … my stomach … my butt … and, the popular favorite … my boobs.  Whatever.  Never say never, right?

And now, having had two children, both of whom nursed like Dyson vacuum systems, my answer reverberates in my head – my breasts.  They’ve never been huge.  But, at one time,  they were at least what I would have called “inflated” … as well as situated correctly on my chest.  Pregnancy and nursing changes all of that.  And I nursed hippie-style, racking up almost four cumulative years between my two kids.  They say breast is best, right? No regrets there.  But my boobs sure look like crap as a result of my valiant efforts.

So I started thinking about it.  And checking myself out in front of the mirror, lifting things up to where they used to be.  To where they’re supposed to be.  And imagining.  And daydreaming.  Which I did.  A lot.  And then I started hearing about all of my girlfriends over the years who were taking the plunge.  They all looked great.  They were filling out their shirts again.  And buying halters, off-the-shoulders and other little strapless numbers that I can only dream of filling out. So … what was stopping me?

Fear of the procedure itself? Guilt of spending the money? Embarrassment of my vanity?  Well … yes, yes and yes! But it wouldn’t hurt just to look into it, right?  Get some questions answered so I can make an informed decision. And maybe help a few curious others along the way.  So, I’m starting the research now. But I’m still pretty freaked out.  So I figured that going way public about the whole thing would help.  And I started turning to a few friends.

The first two women I talked with seriously about it were two of my oldest friends. One has had augmentation and the other has two of the most naturally huge boobs I’ve ever seen in my life.  I was having drinks with the first on one occasion and lunching with the second on another.  Both conversations eventually turned to boobs (as they all do, right?) and both conversations ended up with me dragging my drinks/lunch date into the public bathroom, locking the door behind us and exposing my “girls.”  (A pretty brave deed considering a popular area restaurant was recently cited for secretly installing web cameras in their women’s bathrooms. But I digress.)

Both of my friends were even more receptive to my talk of breast augmentation once they saw what I had to offer.  Actually, they both said exactly the same thing … that I was precisely the kind of person for whom this surgery was intended.

I felt vindicated and humbled at the same time.

I buttoned up, left the bathroom and made my decision to begin looking into the whole thing. Both times.  I think I’m as excited about the possibility of a change as I am about writing all about it. I’ll be augmenting two parts of me really.  And there’s nothing I won’t discuss about it.  Promise. :)

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et cetera
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