Parental Sacrifice

As I watch the Olympics and hear the stories of the athletes, it is always remarkable how their sacrifice extends beyond just the athlete herself. The sister of a female gymnast commented on how the whole family had to struggle so that she could achieve her goal. It is always told in a way that makes it seem like it was all worth it.
As a parent, there is no end to the sacrifices you make for the sake of your children; be they big or small. This weekend, two of our friends from high school married each other in New Mexico. It promised to be an incredibly fun time with a big group of our friends. When I was pregnant with our older daughter, we missed another destination wedding and we’d always said we wished we had been there. I’m sure we will reflect similarly on this past weekend. We decided not to go after we set the date for our big girl’s surgery. It’s a good thing we didn’t go because she’s still not herself. Before she went under the knife, it felt like a sacrifice we had to make to be wise and watchful parents. Now, I’m grateful we’ve been here to see her through it. I would have felt awful if I had been getting reports of her headaches and fever while we were off galavanting around with our friends, unable to comfort and console her.
In preparing for my surgery, I keep discussing with my parents what everyone’s roles will be and how they can help. I feel guilty for asking so much of them already, but I’m trying to put myself in their shoes. It’s such a helpless feeling when your child is enduring a pain that you can’t alleviate for them. You just feel the need to busy yourself around them. I can see why fluffing pillows is an action people associate with a caretaker. The mother bird feathers a nest to keep her chicks comfortable and safe. It’s the same idea. So although I don’t want to impose and I don’t want my parents to make personal sacrifices to help me, I have to understand, too, that it is something they want to do. I have certainly wanted to do that for my kids.

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Olympic Spirit

I love the Olympics. I’m definitely not a fanatic. I don’t have to stay home to watch a particular event, but I’ve been known to DVR gymnastics and swimming. I like the sense of unity, peace, determination, and tenacity. The Olympic spirit can teach people a lot about discipline, hard work, passion, sacrifice and achievement.
Unfortunately, the opening ceremonies did not reflect those wonderful aspects of the games. Instead it was a huge disappointment, almost a joke. I mean, the Queen as a Bond Girl? Really? Mr. Bean? Seriously? Poor Meredith Viera and Matt Lauer, they had their work cut out for them. Even Camilla looked embarrassed. And she was the prince’s mistress for crying outloud!
Did the Brits not see China’s opening ceremonies? Instead of a reflection of the athletes’ amazing aptitude displayed in art and performance, we got the industrial age. And that was only after a cow pooped on the opening stage. Oh London, do you want to be remembered just for Mary Poppins and the nightmares of sick children in hospital beds?
And poor Paul McCartney. When will his service to his country be over? They’ve been pimping him out since he was an adolescent with bangs. They could have saved a ton of money and time if they had just put Kate Middleton in a beach volleyball “uniform”. Isn’t that what the world wants to see from London? That, or her positive pregnancy test. Someone could have reminded her to smile, but if I were her, I probably wouldn’t have been smiling much either.
Beijing’s ceremony had me watching with my mouth open in awe. Not so for London. The only exception was the glamour shot of David Beckham driving the boat with the Olympic torch. Finally!!! Something worth looking at (add a little drool to my expression).
Come on World, step it up! Or start learning Chinese.
Not only did they set the standard unbelievably high, but it’s not simply the Olympics. It’s across the board. My husband sent me an article about Chinese hackers who have been breaking into computer code and learning information about the rest of the world’s economic problems before they’re out in the open. Privileged information that can help them get ahead before we even know we’re behind. What doesn’t have a “Made in China” stamp on it these days? It’s everywhere. I wouldn’t be surprised if my new implants were made there. I might have to sign a waiver so my areola tattoo says “Made in China” written around my new nipple. I’m not really psyched about that. This isn’t Spring Break ’99. Hey party girls, your Asian inspired tat that you think says “Strength”? It really says “Made in China”.

Child Psychology

Again I feel ill-equipped as a mother. Is it just me or is everyone else this insecure about motherhood? I feel like I’m constantly second guessing, plotting, trying to stay one step ahead. All in a great effort to not stunt my children in any way. Sometimes I think I should give up and realize I’m going to fuck them up in some way. This is not the time though.
While we were meeting the surgeons yesterday I asked extensive questions about scarring. Partly because I’m worried about it for myself and my own self image and confidence, but in large part for what the images of my breasts will be like for my girls. What do I say happened? They (at least the older one) will know there’s a difference. Or do I start changing in front of them like I did in front of my peers in the locker room before middle school gym? Furthermore, I wanted to know if my scars will show up in a bathing suit. Even if my kids become accustomed to seeing my less than normal boobs, what would happen if one of their friends saw while I was in a bathing suit and pointed it out or, God forbid, made fun of my girls for my appearance. That would make us all feel awful. And still further, as my husband said, if we tell them that we cut off the old boobs because there was something wrong with them but don’t worry Mommy got new ones, would they think it’s ok to cut something off of themselves because you can simply replace it?
So many questions and concerns, no answers. My older daughter’s school packet came in the mail yesterday. There is a ton of stuff to fill out, one of which is an update sheet listing several big changes that could have occurred for a child. Loss of friend due to move, check. Surgery, check. Addition to the family, check. In the past year, she’s been through quite a bit and she has more to come. So I left a message today for our pediatrician asking for the name of a child psychologist. Someone has to have a better idea of how we can approach this without causing even more damage to a little girl. Again, at the moment, my engineering degree is doing shit for me. I should have slept then instead of pulling all-nighters in the lab. Especially because I’m still pulling all-nighters now too.

Plastics

A little information overload. The hubs and I just interviewed two plastic surgeons. Then we got dinner at one of my favorite NYC Mexican joints. Well after a frozen pomegranate margarita, tableside guacamole and crab empanadas, my recollection of everything discussed is deliciously fuzzy.
This surgery gets more and more real with every milestone. Choosing a plastic surgeon is just another step towards the big day. Let’s start by saying that plastic surgeons in New York City make their offices feel like luxury hotels. They know who they’re catering to. After we left the second appointment I asked my husband if he was tempted to take off his pants and chill in his boxers with his feet up on the plush, champagne-colored couch in the waiting room while watching some tube. He laughed, but I think the answer in his head was the same as mine, “hells yeah!”.
There are so many options for reconstruction. The actual removal of the breast tissue doesn’t seem up for debate, but there are several ways to do the new rack. One doc seemed open to some discussion on my preference of scar and implant type. The other was pretty confident in what he thought was my best bet. In this way, I’m kind of leaning towards the one who knew what he thought the best course of action was. I don’t know if I should think of it like bringing my car in for service. If there’s something wrong with the engine, I’m not about to tell the mechanic how I think he should fix it. How the fuck should I know?
They are both fairly certain that nipple sparing is not an option for me. Instead, they both recommend creating a new nipple from my scar with areola tattoo (I really want to go all Kat VonDee and get some funky design but I think it might freak my girls out and my husband a little too). One said a lateral scar from an elliptical incision is best, the other gave me an option to have an anchor scar similar to those used in breast reduction surgeries.
The biggest difference was probably their preference for implant type. One liked the new “gummy bear” kind that has a teardrop shape, the other preferred a silicon cohesive gel that would then be padded later to give a more natural look. I’m going to have to research a little to find out the differences and what women who have had them say about both.
They were both very nice, very confident and knowledgeable. I think I’d be in good hands with either one. The office manager in one doctor’s office was so bubbly and sweet, accommodating my schedule and assuring us that we will not pay anything out of pocket. She said they will fit me in whenever we decide to set the date. That doc even gave me his cell phone number and told me to call or text with any other questions. He also mentioned the emotional aspects of the surgery. He seems like he gets it. Is this just a good sales tactic? Like his swanky office where we want to host a cocktail party? Or is this genuine sympathy for a 30 year old mom of two going through something pretty major? Whatever it is, it’s working. So are all of the fresh flowers and silver platters in his office. I’d like a cappuccino and chocolate with my turn down service and new boobs, please.

Shark Wrangling

If you’ve been reading this blog throughout the summer, you’re well aware of a few things already. One of which is that I’ve given the responsibility of tv programming in our household over to my husband. This has been really great in several ways. He feels like he’s in control… at least of the remote (little victories are important, right guys?). We’ve watched the same show at the same time, together (instead of him giving up on the Real Housewives of Who Gives a Shit and going to watch Sports Center in the bedroom). And finally, I feel like I’m halfway to a degree in marine biology and we haven’t even started Shark Week yet!
One of his new favorite shows is called Shark Wranglers. It’s about a team of guys (who aren’t too shabby on the eyes I might add) that go out cruising for sharks off the coast of South Africa. They reel them in, then place them on a platform that lifts them out of the water while they tag them, probe them, weigh them and name them and then release them back into the wild and collect data on them. They have to do all of that within a certain number of minutes so the sharks don’t die out of the water. One of the tagging devices adheres to the creature by literally drilling a hole through its dorsal fin and attaching it with bolts. Bio lesson over, onto psychology.
What does this actually do to the poor shark’s self confidence and sense of identity? What are its hydrodynamics like now that it’s got a piece of machinery strapped to it? Does it make the shark feel less like a shark? Back to me.
When my new boobs are bolted onto me, will I feel less like a woman? What kind of hydrodynamics will I have? Will I float? Will my kids lean up against me and feel uncomfortable like there are lumpy tennis balls sticking into them? Will this make me less comforting to them?
I suppose all of these questions will be answered in time, for the shark and for me. I feel a certain sense of choicelessness about this surgery, despite it being totally my choice. Maybe after I pick a plastic surgeon and a date I’ll feel a bit more in control about it. I mean, I’m better off than the shark. She had no say in the matter at all.

Advocacy

I’ve posted before about being your own best advocate or advocating on behalf of your kids. This came into play once again during the big girl’s surgery last week. I urge everyone to keep a detailed list of past medications you’ve taken, dosages and any reactions. While I do trust the doctors and surgeons that we’ve chosen for ourselves and our kids, a little check and balance is always appropriate.
My poor little dear has had so many ear infections in the past. I’ve administered way too much pink strawberry-flavored amoxicillin. Luckily, this made me all too aware that the dosage prescribed by the surgeon, for her to take as a preventative measure against infection, was double the amount she’s ever had. Double!!
I’m happy I knew this and although I’m really not one who easily questions “authority”, I called the doc’s office before administering the first dose. Sure enough, the weight “they” had told him was not right and so he had over-prescribed. While he and his associate both assured me it wouldn’t have been unsafe for her to take it, I’m still happy I called and double checked. Aside from the obvious concern that perhaps it really would have been unsafe, it would have also been hellish to administer double (see previous post on her Scientology-ish preferences). If I had to give her double what I’ve been giving her between the pain medication, the ear drops and the antibiotics, would I have had to double the jellybeans she’s been bribed with? Next up, parent-inflicted cavities?

Nurses

I have found the seventh layer of hell. It’s the post-op pediatric recovery room. Coming out of anesthesia is an out of body experience as it is. Now try being three years old and not knowing what the fuck just happened to you, where you are or who you’re with. My poor little lady. I have to hand it to the nursing staff though. They were compassionate, skilled and calm. Their demeanor brought me relief in those scary moments seeing my child possessed, disoriented and in pain.
Doctors are revered for their knowledge, skill, and confidence, as they should be, but their support staff should not be forgotten or under appreciated. It’s the nurses who do the set up for the surgeon to operate so efficiently. It’s the nurses who often relay all of the vital pre- and post-op instructions to patients. It’s the nurses who cradle your child as they wake up so violently from an unknown dimension.
I am so grateful to have had such a sweet, competent and serene nursing staff helping us through my daughter’s surgery. These unsung heroes of the OR need some serious recognition. Yes, the doctor is the captain, but how could he navigate through choppy waters without his crew?