Scar tissue, aka “I wish I could take the pain away, kiddo”

I don’t often look at the scar on my abdomen. I have a line across my lower belly, a narrow-lipped grimace, the remnant of 8″ incisions cut into me twice over for the births of my two children. I don’t regret the c-sections that gave me that scar, nor do I particularly care whether or not it ever fades completely from view. I doubt it could and, even if it did, a phantom of it would still remain in my mind because of how it connects me to two of the most important people in my life.

My dd will likely now have a scar, although at the tender age of eight and three-quarters years old, hers is from a decidedly less miraculous reason than the birth of a child. In her case, it was just a freak accident.

At camp yesterday, her group was playing a game where they tossed a partially-filled sport drink bottle from kid to kid. If a kid failed to catch it, they were “out”. Apparently, one of the kiddos didn’t catch the bottle and was flagged as “out”. This kiddo’s reaction was to hurl the bottle angrily at top speed–and I guess dd’s forehead was right in the path of the projectile. There’s no indication that it was anything other than an accident; it was an eight year old kid acting out because she was ticked off over getting booted from a game. Even so, it made for quite the day.

I closed up what I could from work as fast as I could (a testament to my AMAZING co-workers that I was able to delegate a few must-do’s to others), and then I raced at top speed to pick her up from camp. Bearing in mind that when camp called, they told me that they thought she needed stitches. Here’s me figuring that they’re possibly exaggerating. Maybe it’s just a big scratch or something.

Yeah, I was dead wrong.

The gash on dd’s forehead was a little less than an inch long but incredibly deep. It reminded me of the lash marks on the faces of characters from the battle between the Sentinels and residents of Zion in the last “Matrix” movie. NOT. GOOD. She was in decent enough spirits for a kid with an open wound on her head, though, so we went home to change her into clean clothes and headed off to get to the Urgent Care center as they opened. (Our doctor’s office can’t put in stitches, and the copay for the co-located Urgent Care is the same as a doctor’s office visit copay, as opposed to the ER copay–which is 4x as much and boasts at least the same waiting time, if not more.)

Everyone at Urgent Care was very sweet, and it was only when the triage nurse needed to irrigate the wound to clean it when dd howled, cried, and tensed her legs in obvious pain. Even so, her struggling was minimal and she squeezed my hand almost as hard as I squeezed hers, both of us so completely frustrated by my inability to wave a magic wand and make it all not be so.

The nurse practitioner was fantastic, as was the pediatric nurse; they numbed her up with a topical mixture heavy on lidocaine that made the injectable lidocaine (which was, unfortunately, still necessary) that much easier for her to handle. Five stitches and a total of two-and-a-half hours later, we emerged into the sunlight, ready to continue our afternoon.

We’ve been given strict limitations on her physical activity for the next 7-10 days (or as long as it takes for the wound to close up), and there are further instructions to keep her from scarring too much. We need to apply sunscreen daily to the site for at least 1-2 years. We need to apply Vitamin E oil daily to the site for at least 1 year. And all of this should (hopefully) preserve dd’s previously pristine face.

And yet I know this is possibly fruitless. She may end up with some kind of scar, due to some other eight year old girl’s dumbass temper tantrum.

I don’t mind that I have a scar. I earned mine at 33 (and again at 36), and I did so knowingly, going in with the understanding that my surgeries would result in a scar. I just wish I could protect dd (and ds) from the scars that are yet to come. Let this be the worst one she ever has to bear. Let this be the toughest visible reminder she has of the fact that other people, sometimes, are just assholes. Because yes, even eight year olds–especially ones that apparently only grudgingly gave half-hearted apologies for opening up another’s forehead–can be assholes. Let’s just call a spade a spade.

I wish it could be not so for her. And that is one of the toughest things that any parent has to bear, how little we can do sometimes to remove burdens from our kids. So I hope that if she does have a scar, her primary memory of it is not the angry, tantrum-throwing brat who hurled that bottle at her. I hope that her main memory is of how badass she was as she took five stitches to the head without so much as a whimper. She’s so strong. She’s so amazing. And she’s more than any scar she’ll ever carry.

Baby boys and blue nail polish – a Kindergarten journey begins

blue nail polish on my 5yo son's nails

Yesterday was ds’ first day in Kindergarten. And he wore blue nail polish.

It was just on two fingers – but it caused enough of a stir in our household that I wasn’t sure how it was going to play in school.

Two days before Kindergarten, as I was getting dd’s nails ready for her first day of second grade, ds came over and excitedly asked, “Mommy, can you do MY nails, too?!” He looked so eager. Honestly, why shouldn’t he want his nails done? It looked like fun, it meant you got attention fawned on you – at least for as long as it takes for the paint and top coat to be applied – and it left you with colored, shiny nails. Who wouldn’t want that?

And then there’s society. Stupid, *phobic society. Society says only girls wear nail polish. Society says there’s something wrong with boys who wear nail polish. (Unless the boy in question is Steven Tyler. Or Johnny Depp. Of course.)

DH and I tried to convince him that he didn’t need nail polish for his first day of Kindergarten, hoping that holding him off with the excuse of “most boys don’t…” would be sufficient. We didn’t do it for us. We did it for him. And he totally ignored us.

There was pouting and confusion, and ultimately I gave him “shiny nails” – a coat of Seche Clear base coat, followed by a coat of Seche Vite top coat. I wanted him to see how he did with clear shiny nails first, I explained.

After he went to bed, I did some looking around on the Internet, trying to see what other parents did. Mostly, there was a lot of concern about kids being gay or transgendered. Um…SO WHAT? Nail polish love doesn’t mean you’re gay, transgendered or anything other than someone who likes to decorate their body. Most parents seemed to fret somewhat, but various behavioral health specialists pointed out that this was totally normal behavior for a young kid. The boy likes to wear stickers on his shirt, whenever offered one, so what’s the difference between that and nail polish?

As his sister put it, “Nail polish is for girls.” THAT’S the difference. People think nail polish is for girls. And if a boy wants nail polish (unless said boy is Mssrs. Tyler or Depp, natch), said boy must want to be a girl. OH. WE FEAR GIRLS and GIRL BEHAVIOR BY BOYS (except Steven or Johnny) is BAD BAD BAD.

The night before Kindergarten, he approached me again: “Mommy, where are the colors?” (they’d been out when I did dd’s nails)

“Mommy, I want you to paint my nails!”

I sighed and sat him down. I explained that not every kiddo would understand his nails and there’s a chance that they might laugh or make mean comments. He promised he’d say “Gee Whiz!” to them and that he didn’t care, but I know my sweet, sensitive little guy – and he’d care. It would bother him. I steeled myself and told him, “You know what, just tell them you’re a rock star.” He looked at me funnily and agreed, and then I let him pick from a curated selection of sparkly and shiny blues and greens.

He chose an electric blue Wet’n’Wild nail polish dd had gotten at a holiday swap. One coat of that on each thumb, and one more coat of Seche Vite to hold it all together.

But what would hold ME together if someone tried to make fun of my little boy?

I tweeted to my sister about it, showing her the picture, and telling her how fantastic they looked. Being the awesome auntie that she is, she totally approved. I suggested that she get bail money set aside, in case any of the kids in ds’ class decided to make a big deal out of it. Her response, “I’ll tell [my husband], since I’ll be right there with you, kicking ass.” See, I told you: an awesome auntie.

And then the day came, and I went off to work while ds waved to me from the living room. Off he went to his first day of Kindergarten, with his blue thumbs. I had remembered, as I painted his nails, that kids of MY generation often painted our nails with magic marker when we were younger. Boys and girls did it. We were decorating ourselves, as much as we decorated our binders or Trapper Keepers. Would it be the same for him?

When I finally got home, just before dinner went on the table, ds was beaming and couldn’t get out enough “Guess what?!” questions to satisfy his retelling of the day. So many friends, old and new, so many fun things, so many new discoveries, so many hopes for a great year.

The polish was still intact, and when I asked dh if there was a note from the teacher, he said no. Apparently, he’d asked ds how things went with the nail polish, and ds pronounced it as no big deal. Everything went fine.

I know it was just the first day, and I realize that there is always the threat of someone doing or saying something stupid to him about it, but I really hope that this bodes well. Whether he decides to wear nail polish on two fingernails or all ten, whether he decides that this nail polish does or doesn’t mean anything more than body decoration…it’s all up to him.

And what do I think of the nail polish? I think it’s freaking awesome. And I think he’s awesome. And anyone who thinks otherwise…well, the door’s to the left, and don’t let it hit you on the way out.

I love my kids, but I’m glad to be done having babies

Yep. I’m committing heresy. This is pure girl blasphemy. I’m saying OUT LOUD to all the Interwebs that I’m glad I’m not having more kids.

I realize that – by some people’s definition – mothers are supposed to be all “Oh, babies are just the best and I could totally go for another one!” anytime a friend shows off their newborn, but I’m perfectly content to coo from a distance and be happy snuggling the two I have. As the younger of two kids, from parents who were an only child and the elder of two, respectively, I’m used to the concept of a small family. Meeting DH’s family for the first time, and seeing that the extended family was A) large, and B) around each other on a regular basis, was overwhelming. I swear it took me a good six months just to learn everyone’s names.

When we talked about kids, DH really wanted four. His mother is the second of four, and he really liked the idea of a big family. Until I met DH, I’d figured I wasn’t going to have kids at all; it was never really something I wanted to do, and I never thought I clicked well with kids. We waited for me to finish graduate school before we really started trying to have kids, and it seemed to take forever before I finally got pregnant. I’m actually pretty sure I had a miscarriage right before I got pregnant with dd. It was early, though, so it just felt like a horrible period.

I remember lying in bed one night when I was pregnant with dd, wondering aloud, “What if I don’t have a maternal instinct?” DH assured me that everything would be fine, and I just hoped for the best. While some parts of the early parenting experience were rough – like exclusively pumping for six months because of physical issues that made breastfeeding hard and my stubborn refusal to give up – it turns out that I do have a maternal instinct. That part, at least, is comforting.

At some point during my pregnancy with ds, my OB/gyn asked me if I wanted to have a repeat c-section or a VBAC, and it took me a while to think it through. DD had been in full breech, so c-section was the way to go for my first delivery. There was some risk with VBAC, and I gathered info from my doctor and other sources before making my choice about how I would have ds delivered. Ultimately, I decided on a repeat c-section. When I told my doctor this, she immediately countered with, “Would you like your tubes tied?” I think I blinked a few dozen times and let that sink in.


“Can you do that?”, I asked.

“Of course. They’re right there,” she said, cupping her hands in the air as she mimed holding my fallopian tubes.


I called my health insurance company and they said that “voluntary sterilization” was a covered benefit, and they thought it was great that I would be able to consolidate things into ONE hospitalization and ONE anesthesia and ONE recovery.


“Voluntary sterilization”.


It sounded so…sterile.


And so it was, that on August 11, 2009, after giving birth to a healthy baby boy, I was voluntarily sterilized with a tubal ligation. In normal people-speak, that means, I shouldn’t get pregnant ever again. That doesn’t mean I can’t, since I know that there is a minuscule chance that I could get pregnant. One of the former teachers at the kids’ daycare center is a tubal baby, so I know it’s possible. But still, as much as I hate the creature with the rusty knife that attacks my abdomen every month, I’m secretly happy. It means I escaped one more month closer to the point when babies are simply no longer an option.

It’s not that I don’t love kids – I adore my kids. They are the light of my life and there is no way that I would want to know what my life would be like if I had never had them.

But knowing what it was like struggling with breastfeeding that never worked and pumping that I made take over my life, remembering what it was like to juggle life with infants who couldn’t tell me funny stories, and thinking of what it was like dealing with blow-out diapers and strollers and high chairs and baby food and pacifiers and and and…I’m happy never to go back.

I love my babies. And though I know that it probably makes me a freak in some people’s eyes for saying that dd and ds are enough, I don’t want more babies. I want the kids I have and I know I was meant to have only them. I’m more than content with that. They are all that I wanted and never knew I needed until they were in my arms. And each time I get my period, I say a silent thank-you to my body, for keeping me at just the two that I adore. I have an abundance of awesome in my two sweet and wonderful kiddos, and that’s all I need. Anybody who thinks I should ever want more doesn’t know me and doesn’t know my babies. I truly have all that I need.