My boobs were a huge part of my life from early on (nice segue, I know). As a kid, I developed earlier than the other girls. It was not a good thing. Some girls, who were pretty flat chested, which was normal for the age, would make comments about how I should give them some of mine. When I was older, junior high or high school, I don't remember, I told them I would gladly give them a donation if that kind of thing were possible.
No matter what I was doing or who I was with, it seemed like my boobs were always brought up in one way or another. I think I started to play into the jokes and comments because they weren't going away. One time I was bra shopping with my mom and sister at May Co. (later became Kaufmann's Department Store and then Macy's) at the Euclid Square Mall. I was in the fitting room trying on bras --- not cute ones because those were for cute, perky boobs. No, I had no real options except white, beige, or black. While I was in there, this HUGE bra came flying over the door and my mom and sister were laughing on the other side. The intent wasn't to hurt me (well, at least not from my mom. A teenage older sister may have). To them, I was in on the joke.
As I grew and the boobs grew, things became painful, physically and emotionally. They looked terrible. These weren't implanted-Pamela-Anderson-boobs that stay up. These were like water balloons hanging from my chest. Picture what it is like to hold a water balloon by the knot. Then add stretchmarks. Sexy, right? I played soccer from 1st grade into my senior year. Sports bras weren't really made for someone like me. I wore a regular bra with hooks in the back which wasn't meant for sports. In the middle of the season my senior year, my back pain took me out for the season. I'm not sure I played enough games to warrant getting my 4th year varsity letter, but I did get it.
When I got to college, I was as self-conscious as ever. That is when real consideration of a breast reduction came in to play. The surgeon had ridiculous standards for me to meet before she would do it. She told me to go on this insane diet. I don't remember how many calories a day I was told to have, but weight came off and I was starving. And, with this diet, she also wanted me to start working out. Again, not enough calories taken in to be working out. Guess what, the weight didn't come off my boobs! Also, my parents' medical insurance wouldn't cover it, so there went that.
Then I was out of college and into my career. It took quite some time, about 4 1/2 years, for me to revisit the whole thing. At a 42 DDD, I decided to give my insurance a shot and see what happened. I made my appointment to see Dr. Seth Eisengart. Everything changed. He had barely said two words to me and I was crying. It was the tremendous relief to have him listening to me; a huge weight lifted off my chest (see what I did there?). I told him about the previous surgeon I saw in college, who was a colleague of his. He told me the expectations she placed on me were not good. He confirmed for me that weight loss from the breasts through diet and exercise for someone like me was not going to be significant. He said he couldn't imagine trying to exercise and play sports with a chest the size of mine.
My insurance came through to cover having a reduction. So, planned things out. He told me the style he preferred to use. He wanted me to understand that I may not be able to breastfeed. At that point, I didn't care. I wanted this done and I was headed to the convent, so whatever. We went forward with surgery. My company only wanted me to have a week off, he personally, not his staff, called the short term disability group and argued on my behalf. He got me two weeks. A post-op appointment had him telling me that it was about 5 lbs removed, about 2.5 lbs each. Breasts aren't typically symmetrical, so it was a give or take on the 2.5 lbs each. When he told me that, he said he couldn't imagine going for a run with a sack of flour around his neck. All of this was freeing me.
He was willing to take me as small as I would like, but he said it could look awkward if we went too small. So, 42 C it was. A very scary looking 42 C at first. My first time in the shower I almost passed out as I looked at them. It was the first time they were unbound since the surgery. My mom had to come help me. I called them my Frankenboobies. But, they were healing and the scarring wasn't terrible.
A year-ish after surgery, the convent was a thing of the past and I met Shawn...I had been feeling great with weight loss, I was wearing clothes I couldn't before, and I was on meds for the horrible depression I had been in...and now my boobs had me self-conscious again. Remember, I didn't care about the scarring or the possible inability to breastfeed. There I was with this guy that I really started to have feelings for and could see having a relationship with and I had these boobs I was happy to have, but were scarred. Then, time went on and we were trying to have a baby and I thought about how the results of the surgery could keep me from breastfeeding. Things worked out with Shawn and my boobs. The breastfeeding would end up not being an issue, though, thanks to infertility. But, in the end, the reduction was one of the best decisions I made.
So, what does all of this have to do with a picture in a photo album? I'm starting to wonder myself.
When I graduated college, I went on a 10 day service experience in the inner city of Cincinnati. It was through the Marianist Volunteers. I was there and so were my big boobs. The picture I came across was of me sitting with four of the head volunteer staff. We are all smiling and laughing and I notice that the one leader has her arm around me with a big smile on her face and her hand was hovering over my breast, ready to go in for the grab.
I don't remember this exact moment. I'm not sure if I knew she was doing it at the time or if I only found out once the film was developed. Maybe I was in on the joke. Maybe I made myself play along with the joke. Like I said, I don't remember. Maybe this is my #MeToo. I don't know.
I know things are different for me now.
And, I just realized, after this blog about boobs, I have my routine mammogram tomorrow....so, yeah...there's that.