Breast Reduction, Physical Wellness, Trail running, weight loss, Working Mom

Learning to Dress my Body After Breast Reduction and Finding a Fashion Sense after Three Babies.

BREAST REDUCTION SURGERY AFTER BABIESWHAT IT WAS LIKERECOVERYAND MORE!

Breast reduction, weight loss and fashion… All in one post.  Wow.  Coffee is kicking in today and it’s not even 9am!

So one of the things I bought for surgery last week was a black button up shirt dress (my FAV wardrobe staple and it was really just an excuse to buy another one haha.)

For 15 years I’ve been wearing long black button-up shirts.  They look awesome on busty and curvy women, especially if you are tall.

So last night was 7 days post breast reduction surgery. After drinking smoothies and not having an appetite all week, I was absolutely voracious yesterday.  My husband and I decided it would be a nice opportunity to go out and grab dinner (and get me out in the world after my week of being ensconced in the house.)

Putting my black button up shirt dress was a trip and I am beginning to realize there are a lot of psychological shifts with a breast reduction surgery.   Up to today (day 7) I had been wrapped up in how freaking awesome I felt, how small my boobs were and all the potential I have to workout and run in comfort now.  I feel that with week two, I’m settling into some of the psychological adjustments of a new body (I am also walking around in a body that is 50lb lighter than last summer, and am only 20 lb away from my goal weight.)

Last night was when the magnitude of body change hit me on a deeper level.

The exact same shirt, my go-to for feeling sexy and put together for the last 15 years,  is a completely, completely different look.  It actually went from bangin’ body flattering, show-off-the-curves shirt, to a loose drapey shirt tucking in at a very weird place in a way that no longer flattered me.

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The two images at the top of this picture are exactly how, for 15 years, this black button-up shirt fit me.  The bottom two images represent how it fits now.  Totally different right? Tbh it didn’t feel right as a long tunic.  I realized that the days of long button up shirts have shifted and I will be (gasp) tucking into my pants.  I am so used to using the top part to hang down over the abdomen.  I think I am used to covering up my body in general.

One of the things I am really looking forward to doing in the fall is getting some help understanding this different body and how to dress it because *I love* style and fashion.  Winners is my happy place lol.

My plan is to work with Espy experience here in Calgary to get some basics and understanding of what to choose to highlight this new shape, and also define my style.

One of the things I am coming to appreciate is the combination of defining your unique style with the functional needs that you have as a mum with 3 kids.  As much as I want to go back to my pre-kids style, I need a “version” of that, that allows for me to chase, pick up and go out and play with them.

One of the things I was struggling with, before surgery, was dressing in some “grownup” clothes again.  I was excited to get into them, but then I’d get frustrated because they weren’t allowing me to spontaneously go out for walks or adventures with the kids.  So I’d come home, change out of the clothes and go back into my Lululemon crops, tank and runners.

I need to find a nice place between fashion for work life (I like classic British equestrian style, I have an entire Pinterest Board dedicated to it lol ) and function for family life (being a very active mumma.)

So here I am, in my housecoat with a coffee, realizing that one of the Great Maternity Leave Projects coming up is…. FASHION.  Who knew?!  I never thought I’d blog on clothes and style in Calgary.  The closest I ever got to the fashion world was an offer from Ford Models to go to New York when I was in high school around 2000, I believe at the time they were starting their plus-sized division.  The fashion world at the time seemed so scary and cut-throat at the time, and the scouting agent was so honest about it, and what it would be like, that I was like, mmmm I’ll go do university instead, sounds way safer and admittedly, kinder.

Funnily enough, as I near the end of my weight loss and body transformation journey I was thinking “shit, I don’t have any Great Maternity Leave Projects in the pipeline” and thinking I need to do some brain storming . Well, the next project just came and landed in my hands. Which goes to show you that sometimes, you just need to trust and let the universe bring you things.

It also means I need to start saving up a bit of money to dive into this endeavor.

My plan is to work with the amazing stylists at Espy Calgary who are all fashion stylists.  I’ve always steered away from the fashion world – it intimidates me to no end – but going into Espy a few weeks ago to find jeans for my 6’9 husband, I found that it really isn’t!  It’s not about trying to fit into a style or keep up with fashion. It’s more about gaining clarity about what you like and what flatters your body.  Yes, there’s an industry of defining and setting trends, and high fashion where it’s about art + creativity + pushing the boundary. I think that’s what I associated with fashion.  But there’s also an industry for the rest of us mere mortals and 36-year-old moms who just want to get out of their lulu crops some of the time, haha!

I write this post with gratitude though. I observed the last 5 years of body changes in utter astonishment. It gave me an appreciation for what the female body can do.  Have you ever thought about how many lbs of change, expansion and shrinking your body has gone through in pregnancy? You’ve even grown entirely new organs (the placenta.) And these changes are not just in body fat – your skin has expanded, hell,  even your internal organs have cumulatively moved SEVERAL FEET in your pregnancies.   Wow.  Just wow.  I can’t feel bad or regret wearing leggings + tunics for the last 5 years.  It’s what I needed to do as I did the more important work of human building. 🙂

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Please let me know in the comments if this is something you’d like me to share!

Shall we call this the “dressing a body after babies” journey?  Or perhaps “dressing a body with no babies or boobies” – hmm.

Instagram will be a fun place to share the journey with you as well, so if you haven’t followed The Great Maternity Leave yet on Instagram, head on over.  Admittedly my writing is 1000% better than my photos, but as always, my goal is authenticity, sharing a life coach perspective, and (hopefully) inspiring all of you to continue expanding and elevating your life, even in early motherhood.

The early years of motherhood and mat leave are a perfect time to undergo deep personal growth and expansion in your life.  With the arrival of a baby, you are cracked wide open, the deepest parts of you are exposed.  You find yourself reflecting and taking all of those beliefs and values, deciding which still serve you, and which no longer do.  You find yourself changing, as well.  Building new beliefs and values, and perhaps even new identities.  And a new wardrobe, apparently!

I get excited about new motherhood.  It is a time for immense growth, learning, and reflection.  It forces you into a growth mindset, and in that first year you are so brave and courageous.  Please don’t deny yourself that acknowledgment.

You are thrown into completely new situations and experiences with a new baby.

EVERY day you, my friend, learn something new, face something new and work through fears.  One day you are you-tubing how the hell to wrap a baby in a Moby wrap (and practicing with a real life, sqwawking human which you can’t make mistakes on) and the next day you’re learning about brain development and taking a crash course in developmental psychology.  By the way, there is an amazing FREE online course called Brain Story, where you learn about your baby and child’s brain’s story and what they are going through.  Highly recommend this resource. 

That is NOT something that everyone can say they do. Some people live in safety, security, and stability. They are happy with the knowledge they have and most definitely feel no need to change. They don’t want to acquire more knowledge or test their limits.  They are in a fixed mindset.  We all know plenty of people like this.  It’s not wrong, or bad, it’s just one of many ways to live.

You? you’re most certainly not in that place if you are here on this blog today.

We’ve chosen an extraordinary adventure, and it is definitely none of those things, but it’s WORTH IT. The rewards are incredible when you work through the challenges.

It is exactly why I went from no kids to three in five years.  It’s all so worth it.

While the shell is cracked, why not think about your beliefs, your values, the life you want for you + your family.  Why not undergo the process of taking all of those and elevating your life? 🙂

xo

 

Carina

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Breast Reduction, Happiness, health coaching, Lifestyle, Lifestyle Design, Personal Development, Physical Wellness, The Projects

Growing up With Big Ol Boobs and My Decision to Have Breast Reduction Surgery.

Three days ago I had one of the most important surgeries of my life!  A long-awaited breast reduction surgery.  Before I get into what the surgery was like, in my next post, I wanted to share the background on my “why.”

Having breast reduction surgery isn’t the end point of a long, tumultous journey with big breasts.

It is actually a mid-point stage in what has really been a bigger story about shifting my beliefs about who I am and what I am capable of.  

Thursday’s surgery was about the removal of breast tissue, yes, but it was also about the removal of the final self-limiting beliefs I had about my body and what I am capable of.

So let’s begin…

The relationship with my body & breasts

As I’m sure many of you do, I’ve had a long and interesting relationship with my breasts.  I clearly, clearly remember the day my Mum bought me a camisole top / training bra when I was in primary school in the UK.

I was only 8 years old, but already I was becoming quite “chesty” as my teacher had politely described.  I remember the day my mum bought the camisole home, genuinely excited for her growing girl.  As I sit here typing, I remember my fingers jabbing under the camisole, scratching the itchy skin, irritated by the lace. I remember crying in our driveway one day after school, clawing at it and being generally miserable.

I definitely remember the school summer sports day, two weeks later.  I don’t remember where I placed in the egg and spoon race, but I remember running with the egg and spoon in one hand, the other arm strategically placed against my bouncing chest.

I wasn’t only trying to relieve the discomfort of the bouncing, and the scratching of the lace. My arm across my chest was a symbol of early attempts to shield myself from the attention of others.  I was beginning to learn at that young age, that others were paying attention to my body.  My teacher, who called me chesty, the boys who called me big beluga, my female classmates giggling on the school ground about their bodies and the commensurate attention from the boys.

As a big breasted woman, all of this happened quite early for me, but I can’t help but think this is the norm in 2018.  With unprecedented exposure to chemicals that disrupt hormonal patterns, girls are hitting puberty much earlier.  They are experiencing all of these things, that used to be exclusively the domain of junior high.

I entered the teen years, where I was initiated into the typical teenage experience of ups and downs of body image and a rapidly changing body.  It was a confusing time.  I felt like the body I was inheriting was mismatched to the body in my mind.  I was aghast at photos and reflections in the mirror.  I felt like the way people saw me was very different from how I saw myself.  It was in junior high school, that the volume of other people’s judgements of my body increased.  Not only that, but I started listening to those judgements.

In grade eight, I tried out for the senior volleyball team.  I knew after months of hard work doing drills, that my technical skills were up there with the senior team.  I had the drive and the discipline.  To my total surprise, I didn’t make the team along with all of my friends I had practiced with.  Chatting with the coach afterward on what drills I could do to improve, the coach mentioned that it would be good for me to work on losing some weight.  It was confusing to me.  Weren’t my skills up there with the others?  Why was the shape of my body an issue?   What does this have to do with my volleyball game?

This initiation into the world of external judgement continued off of the volleyball court.  I knew I was a hard worker when it came to sports. I had a lot of grit, but I found myself constantly being chosen last in gym class for teams.  People assumed based on my body appearance that I wouldn’t be any good.

I’d like to say that at that age, I had the awareness and confidence to not lose my way and to fight against those assumptions, but I bowed to them. All of a sudden I lost my inner compass.  The external world began to shape my beliefs. I started pretending I was sick on gym days and avoided PE like the plague, even though inside I lit up with excitement at the thought of a competition.  The fear of judgement and the belief I wasn’t good overtook the competitive spark inside of me.

In the coaching world, we call this the development of self-limiting beliefs.  This is when we have a story about ourselves, and a set of beliefs, that limit what we think we are capable of.  They can be triggered by one event, or message.  Or they can be triggered by a series of events.

Once these messages have been reinforced a few times, they become a narrative, or a story that we really hold to and believe.  They become part of our story about ourselves, even if that story is not based on reliable evidence.

I began to believe that my active life wasn’t about what I could physically do. It was about what I physically looked like.  THAT was the determinant of what I could show up and do in my active life.  Fat girls aren’t athletes.  Fat girls don’t do sports. Fat girls aren’t good at athletics. Fat girls don’t belong on the PE field.

That belief was first installed in grade school, then again with the volleyball situation in junior high.  Then, again with phys ed classes when I was consistently chosen last.

I hate to say it, but the influences also came from my own family, society and culture.  My dad had taken to calling me “round like a donut” and commenting on my boobs.

As junior high progressed, I went from trying out for teams, to pretending I was sick when we had gym units. I remember faking a sprained ankle, dark eye shadow and everything to mimic bruising, so that I didn’t have to particpate in a sports day.

All the while, the bouncing of my large breasts was a factor, but also my Mum’s messaging of “we’re just not built to run.” Big breasts mean you can’t do sports.

When messaging comes from all directions, it truly becomes entrenched and I think this is why so many of us came out of the 1990s with body image issues.  I loved reading the magazines of the 1990s.  Teen, YM, Seventeen.  Do you remember seeing big boobs on the cover of those? Definitely not. Do you even remember articles about sports and female athletes – not really, I remember quizzes like “does he like you” and the ads for maybelline lip chaps, and my beloved Backstreet Boys!

All of this led to the foreclosure of my athletic identity.  15 years of mindset conditioning, starting with those first moments of a child, where everybody was talking about my breasts.

Entering high school, I opted out of physical education and participating in sports.  Instead, I moved into sports medicine instead, where I could help others participating in sports and be in the background.  I always admired the athletes I worked with, they seemed to be my tribe.  Even in University, I gravitated towards my Kinesiology major friends.  I didn’t join them in their sports, but deep, deep inside of me, I was drawn to their active lifestyles.

The stresses and lifestyle choices of University led to weight gain and my breasts continued to grow.  The weight gain was a gift, because it led to my highest weight ever, and I decided to join Weight Watchers in 2007.  During that year, I lost 40 lb and fell in love with running.  Yes, I had to wear two bras – an underwire, then a sports bra on top, then a tight top to reduce the bounce, but I did it.

Slowly, other things happened. By chance, I was introduced to the world of CrossFit in 2010 where I was totally accepted and I realized that athletes come in all shapes and sizes.  I loved it.  It was a sport where I could compete on my own level, on my own benchmarks, with myself.  It was a very empowering community and all around me I was surrounded by strong women of all shapes and sizes.  Boob size had no bearing on athletic ability.  Wait a minute, that’s not what I had told myself all my life? My belief systems began to loosen their grip.

I was introduced to the world of whole foods and paleo diets, and understood how to eat functionally, rather than emotionally.  2015 onwards I continued down the lifestyle transformation path. (big boobs still in tow, of course.)  Oh, the boobs. I hit them on my cleans, and they were sore after workouts with many pushups, but I pushed through it, and the back pain that came with them.  I remember even using Rogue bands during one workout to keep them from bouncing under my sweater.

The final piece of all of this was the dismantling of my long-held beliefs and narrative.  By being a part of the Crossfit community, the grip of these narratives had been loosened by showing me how faulty my beliefs had been.  On those rubber mats, and in conversations afterward with these completely badass female athletes, I had begun to realize that they didn’t’ believe the same things as me.  They also believed different things about me. They didn’t look at my body and make assumptions about my abilities.  In such a physical environment surrounded by insane bodies – the CrossFit gym – I learnt that how my body looked did.not.matter!

The last five years has been profound and completed the process of transformation.

I took my two-year professional coaching certification.  The process led us deep into our own lives, understanding and breaking apart our own self-limiting beliefs, and connecting with who we really were at our core.

(You must undergo this process yourself if you are to be a partner and guide to others in their own process.  Most accredited coaching programs will have you begin here before you even learn the science and practice of coaching.) 

It all clicked. I had that ah hah moment.  That moment of insight. All of the above clicked.

All those years ago,  I had adopted external messaging that wasn’t even my own, and I had let it shape my lifestyle and beliefs about who I was.  My big boobs and curvy body had activated a self-reinforcing negative feedback loop.

I had foreclosed on an athletic, active identity.  Though I had clawed my way back to it in my 20s, it was really my 30s that I realized I can do whatever I want and fuckin right I am athletic.

What does that look like now?  I am a very, very active mum of 3 little ones.  I’m known among my friends as the sporty one.  I love trail running.  I jumped out of a helicopter at the top of a mountain and ran 21km down it pregnant. I mountain bike with firefighters.  Hell, I think there’s an ultra runner in there. I have always wanted to run a 25 km ultra in the mountains.  I wrote it down in 2010 as a BHAG (a big, hairy audacious goal that is unlikely, but inspiring.) Now, in 2018 I know that I’m going to do it.  It’s coming up next.  I’m excited.

So, you may ask, where do the boobs come into all of this?  Carina, isn’t the point of this absurdly long-winded blog to talk about breast reduction surgery?

You bet.  All of the above leads to my why.

Why did I decide to remove most of my breasts last Thursday?

Because I don’t hate them anymore.  They don’t have the power they once did.  They didn’t ruin my life.  Because they are simply a set of tissues to remove to reduce some back pain.  Because the life I see for myself is one that is extremely active, with high impact activities that will be eased by less bouncing 🙂 Because I’d simply like to wear less than 3 bras.  That is all.  As I write this it’s practical.  Straight forward.  Its not filled with angst or emotion or hidden motives.  And that’s why I knew I was ready to remove them.

I couldn’t have done surgery in my 20s.

Why? I couldn’t have done it from a place of hating my breasts.

 

I believe I always have been, and am, an athlete.  I have realized that I have potential that I haven’t even tapped in the world of trail running, because I never considered it.

I used to be bound by limits to my abilities, limits that were set by other people, because they looked at my body and those big breasts and told me so.  People told me “you aren’t built for athletic stuff.” and then I told me “you aren’t built for athletic stuff.”

 

I have left that place of hating my breasts. I no longer think  they block and control and influence everything in my life. I have moved from believing that stopped me from doing things, to appreciating them and knowing that they simply got caught up in the crazy world that is external judgement.  They are a part of my body, yes, but I – and the rest of the world – attributed so much significance to them that played with my head and my belief in my abilities.

At 7:30 in the morning on Thursday, I laid under a warm blanket, preparing to be wheeled into the operating room and thanked my breasts.  They’ve been part of me, and part of this fascinating journey.  I went into surgery honouring them, and being at peace with them.

They didn’t do anything wrong.  They didn’t cause my athletic foreclosure, they didn’t prevent me from pursuing an active life.  They were simply caught up in the crossfire of a society that attaches so many meanings to boobies.

The real work, the real weight lifted from my chest was letting go of those limiting beliefs about my ability.

The final removal of this breast tissue is just icing on the cake. Is it profound? Oh hell yes, in the three days since surgery it has already completely changed my posture, back pain and will surely change my running and activity life.

 

 

Breast Reduction, Happiness, health coaching, Lifestyle Design, Personal Development, Physical Wellness, The Projects

What is Breast Reduction Surgery Like? What is the recovery like from Breast Reduction?

BREAST REDUCTION SURGERY AFTER BABIESWHAT IT WAS LIKERECOVERYAND MORE!3 days ago, I had a long-awaited breast reduction surgery.  It is hands down one of the best things that I have ever done and I am absolutely overjoyed with the results!

As surgery day approached, I did find myself googling what the surgery was like, and recovery would actually be like, and I questioned friends who had breast surgery.

In the spirit of allaying fears of surgery, I wanted to share with you what the recovery is actually like.  By contributing my story, I hope to reassure you that if you are considering the surgery, it is the best thing you’ll ever do and way, way less painful and much easier than you think it is.

The Fear of Surgery:

Undergoing a surgery with general anaesthetic is not an easy decision.  Regardless of how gritty, mentally strong, or courageous you are, the idea of being put to sleep and sliced open does awaken a primordial fear, and I definitely felt it when I was wheeled into the operating room. Watching everyone waiting to be wheeled into their surgeries on Thursday morning, you could tell that everybody gets nervous.  It’s soothing knowing you are not alone and the staff are so empathic and aware of it.

 

Being wheeled into the operating room did make me nervous, but the staff were so friendly and immediately put me at ease with introductions and a description of what the anaesthetic would feel like.

On the operating table, the iv was started which was probably the most uncomfortable part of the whole procedure, this was only because the iv was fresh out of the fridge and the cold liquid going into my hand made it ache.  It was just like running your hand under a cold tap for too long. That only lasted for about a minute, because once the anaesthetic started, I was out and off into a nice sleep.  I don’t remember anything.

I woke up in the recovery room quite dozy and relaxed, it did feel like a great nap.  I was gently eased into the environment by a lovely nurse putting a warm blanket on me and telling me I was in the recovery room and everything went great. I had been worried about being nauseous and I expressed these concerns to the anesthetist, so he was generous with administering anti nauseants.  They had also recommended wearing warm socks in surgery to keep my body warm, and I can confirm these did the trick! I wore my ski socks and wasn’t shaking or cold when I woke up.

The difference between expectations and reality is funny. I totally thought I’d wake up with blazing pain across my chest.  Reality? I felt nothing.  Seriously, nothing!

In a pleasant haze, I was wheeled back to the day surgery area (I stayed for 24 hours after surgery) and the nurses were diligent with administering pain meds, providing water and checking vitals.  They let me cautiously try some food to see if my stomach was up to digesting anything.  I was glad they encouraged me to take it slowly and carefully, as I was surprised by how ginger my stomach was – I did feel overly full just trying a bit of apple sauce, so I laid off and sipped on ginger ale instead.

You may be asking, how did the boobs feel?  I felt nothing in the first few hours after surgery!  I honestly was expecting to wake up feeling that hot knife burn of freshly cut skin, but I didn’t feel any of that thanks to pain meds.  I was in a comfortable front-fasten “granny bra” and the incisions had self-dissolving tape, with a layer of soft gauze on top.

Get used to sleeping upright!

I was very dozy after surgery, which is also influenced by the medicine, so the last three days have mostly been chilling in bed, drifting in and out of naps and getting up occasionally for a snack, to see the kids or make some tea.

The sitting up part is pretty important – you will be propped up with pillows and cannot lie down, or on your side. It will hurt too much if you try anyways, so you won’t 🙂

My husband bought a pillow from home which was fantastic . I highly recommend bringing a squishy pillow that you can manipulate to find a comfortable resting spot. I also couldn’t help but think that a travel neck pillow would work really well as well.  I’ve lived in my house coat or kimono the last few days which has been great, too. They recommend a button up shirt but tbh, fiddling with buttons and lifting my arms at the elbows was too sore. A housecoat tie has been way easier.

A big piece of recovering after surgery is staying in an upright position, even when you sleep.  It doesn’t make for the best night time sleeps, which is why you should really take some downtime the first 3-4 days after surgery, because you’ll want to sleep in the daytime.  Ironically on day three here, the source of most of my discomfort is my neck, which is seized up on one side from sleeping upright in awkward positions.  It’s bothering me quite a lot and giving me a headache! Make sure you do some gentle neck stretching after surgery and while you recoup, I wish someone had told me that!

I did have drains under either breast in the hospital, which they took out on the day of discharge. I was super nervous for this, because I remember having a drain removed after my emergency appendectomy a few years ago, and it was excruciating – I remember yelling as they pulled it out.  The nurse reassured me it was a painless and very quick removal and she was right.  She pulled the thin drain tube out and I didn’t even realize it was out. I was lying there, bracing myself, and there was nothing to brace for.

Appetite & Food:

I slowly got a bit of an appetite back about  8 hours after surgery, but not much of one, so I’ve focused on drinking lots of water, healthy fruits and vegetables and fibrous food.  The pain medication does constipate you, so I’ve been drinking 2L + a day along with restoralax. It’s been 3 days since surgery and I haven’t had a bowel movement yet which is not ideal, but this is the norm for me without even taking pain meds, lol. So definitely go with your own bowel movement benchmark for what constitutes constipation.

Other things I’ve been taking to help with healing are fish oil, vitamin c, collagen protein smoothies with lots of greens, and a good multivitamin and a fibre supplement.

What is the incision pain like?

I know that pain is very subjective and really depends on the person, so I’ll start with saying my pain tolerance is quite low.  For example, I completely tapped out at 3cm dilation in all three of my labours. I turned into a grey, puking mess and then it was epidural time, lol.  I’m not a pain hero and I don’t pretend to be. I don’t see the point in suffering and am in favour of pain meds. They offered me percocet in the hospital and aside from being curious having never taken it before, I was also like, why not?

The doctor will prescribe you a pain medication that will keep your pain very low, and you can certainly discuss opiate versus non-opiate painkillers.  I am currently on a medication that is an opiate, so it leaves me feeling a bit spaced out, very chilled out and pain-free.  I’ve never been on them before, so I started out just taking one and playing it very cautious, but two seems to make a real difference and give me a good stretch of no discomfort.

Right now, on the pain medication prescription, I do not feel any pain if I stay still. If I move, I feel discomfort on the incision spots that is very similar to a grazed knee.  I did accidentally move too much last night in my sleep and I woke up to hot burning, which was unpleasant but not worse than a bad cut.

In the interest of reporting for this blog, yesterday evening I did not take any pain meds in the evening to see how it naturally felt. I can say that the pain was probably up at like a 6/10, 10/10 being the worst I’ve experienced (labour!) The medicine does make a different and if you are prescribed it, just take it. Why suffer?  However, I believe that with breast reduction surgery, if you have high pain tolerance, you can get by simply taking tylenol or advil.

The pain of breast reduction surgery is more of a skin/ tissue pain.  It is a grazed / hot / cut / knife feeling.  Personally I find that kind of pain much more manageable than deeper muscle or joint pain.  It is very different for example, from the labour pain which I describe as a deep, aching, body turning inside out type of pain that overwhelms your senses, lol.

Asking for Help:

I am a mom of three children four and under, including a 20lb baby, which is problematic.  After breast reduction surgery you definitely cannot pick things up or move with the same freedom.  You’ll want to move in a configuration that is not unlike a T-Rex when you are up and about.

A, You are sore , B You will risk all of that beautiful work your surgeon has just done.

Just because you want to feel useful and contribute to your family does not mean you should risk the $10,000 worth of surgery you just had.  You can afford to take a week off of parenting.  You’ve got the rest of your life to be a parent.

It’s time for a Pep Talk. I know I am struggling a bit with this, so it’s partially a pep talk for me, but I hope you find it useful too!:

Please note you just had reconstructive surgery.  Don’t deconstruct it.  I don’t care if your toddlers are melting down and you are slightly dying inside because you can hear your husband getting frustrated with them. Let him struggle.  You have your own work to do. Don’t throw a life ring and in the process put your own recovery on the back burner.  If you are with someone who needs, wants and relies on your help (plenty of couples have this dynamic when it comes to kids) this is your time to test out a different dynamic and really advocate for yourself and stepping back for a few days.  I am feeling pretty lucky that my confident husband has been a rock star with the kids and we have a totally shared responsibility with the kids, but it is still hard when I hear the usual toddler meltdowns and him getting frustrated as he tries to wrangle everyone, especially while I lie here sipping a smoothie.

My 12 month old is crawling, but he needs a lot of picking up, dressing, helping and I have basically planned for not being able to do that for at least 4-5 days.  My mother in law has come to stay and is for the most part taking care of him, while my husband wrangles the toddlers.

My four year old can mostly dress and manage herself but the issue comes with preparing meals – I can’t get up to the cupboards or lift my arms.  So as much as I thought “yeah, she’ll be ok to deal with” the reality is you do need help for small children as well, even if they are independent.

If you have toddlers or a baby, make sure you have help with you for the first five days at least, and that the help is staying with you.

My husband and mother in law have totally taken over parenting duties from me and I truly, truly appreciate it. I’ve set up camp in our bedroom.

The eternal joy of being a mom is that even if you are incapacitated, your children will still want to be all over you.  I’ve been knocked and bumped and that has been unpleasant so we’ve had to have a few chats and I do have a few defensive pillows around my fort in bed.  🙂   I felt terrible doing this but I have also locked the door if I am feeling sleepy so that I can have some sacred space.  The toddlers are particularly clingy as well because mum’s just gone through surgery and has a big owwie.  Rather than them backing off, your children will be curious kittens and ever so sweet in their desire to help you in every way, right down to the hello kitty bandaids proferred with a sweet little smile “for your owwie boobies mommy.”

I’m really having to work at not jumping in and helping. It’s amusing to observe the typical mom dialogue in my brain that is feeling a bit bad for lazing around in the bedroom. It really kicks up when I hear my husband dealing with melting down toddlers, but you know what? I deserve this, I deserve to heal and take this downtime.

I often play the game of “what would my husband do” to shift my mindset and disempower these unhelpful thoughts, it helps me gain some much-needed perspective. If he’d had a surgery, he’d take it easy and recouperate while I jumped into action and made sure he was taken care of. So, I will let him do this for me.

Don’t play the mummy martyr game.  REST and ENJOY the downtime.   Go to chapters, get a nice book, read some gossip mags.  Line up snacks on the bedside table, lock your door and let your help deal with the children.  Ask someone to bring you something.  Nap if you need to, get up only if you want to.

When You Are Feeling Ready to Get up and About:

If you feel like you are ready to do something, take the following approach:  You as a mom will push your body further than it should go, all in the name of “momming” so whatever you *think* you can do, reduce that by half.

Think you can go to stampede with your toddlers for 3 hours in a couple of days?  (I genuinely considered this, this morning) – NO.  Instead, attempt a 10-minute walk around the block.

By the way, 3 days after surgery I’ve been attempting getting up and pottering around the house but I find after 30 minutes I”m ready to go back to the room and snooze or chill.  Also, listen to your pain.  If it starts increasing, it’s time to retire to your place of recouping and take ‘er easy.  Pain is such a good internal barometer of whether we are doing too much.

I prepared dinner plates for the kids last night and kind of regretted it afterward, as my incisions were burning (this was also when I had decided not to take any painkillers as I wrote about above, so I was already uncomfortable at that point.)  Today, I’m not going to bother that again.  It was a good little warning for me not to push it.

 

Time Off of Work:

Talk to your surgeon and take into account your own pain tolerance, energy levels, work requirements and healing tendencies, and err on the generous side when it comes to taking time off of work. Personally, I have opted to take two weeks off from work, and I’m really glad I did, as I have a long commute, 15 minute walk and usually have to carry a few bags to and from the office.  I’ve been waiting 15 years for this surgery and it’s a huge, momentous event in my life, so I want to honour it and give my body the time that it needs to heal.  Everyone’s healing time can vary from person to person depending on their general health and even how much tissue they have taken out.  It’s an individual story and an individual journey. We can’t perfectly predict the body, we can only use general assumptions and categories which no one person ever fits perfectly into, so when you decide on time off, I’d say, give your body the time it needs.

I hope this write up is helpful to you, whether you are considering breast reduction surgery, are awaiting the big day, or are fresh out of surgery.  Connect with me in the comments and please, offer any healing tips below!  I am told that the self-dissolving tape will do a great job of healing the incisions but I am definitely open to any scar healing advice you may have!  And if you’ve had the surgery, tell me what your own healing was like? We are all so different! 🙂   I enjoy the diversity of stories and experiences.

xo

Carina