Healing Wounds, Old And New: Plastic Surgery Brought Me Closer To My Mom

Getting breast implants helped our anonymous writer Bella Violet mend fences with her estranged mother. Here, she recounts her experience.

I never thought at age 28 I’d ask my mom to pick my wedgie – you know, when your underwear bunches up into the most uncomfortable thong you’ve worn in your life. Most mother/daughter relationships don’t involve this kind of closeness. I also never thought at age 28 I’d ask – or even want – my mom of all people to stay at my New York City apartment for a weekend and care for me after going under the knife. Our mother/daughter relationship didn’t always involve this kind of closeness. But, now, thankfully it does – after 15 years of sometimes not speaking to each other, sometimes yelling at each other and sometimes hanging up on each other.

Every horrible thing that came along with my parents’ divorce (which happened when I was 3), wreaked havoc on my relationship with my mom, and for two decades our feelings of resentment ran wilder than sewer rats. But after many hours and dollars sacrificed on counseling to sort out my own issues, as well as a lot of give and take on both ends, we somehow found our way back to each other. Don’t ask me how. I don’t know how. I only know that I thank God every morning that I have a mom for the first time in too many years. Which brings me back to that wedgie, which I needed her to pick because I had limited use of my arms: I had just gotten a breast augmentation – a major life decision I probably wouldn’t have made without her back on my side.

The plastic-surgery idea started when I graduated college and finally accepted that my breasts were finished growing. Correction – when I finally accepted that they never grew past the size they were when I was born. For my 5-foot-8, 125-pound frame, which matched my mother’s almost perfectly, I always wondered why God gave her a womanly chest but forgot mine; I could never ask her because for years most of our phone calls ended with an argument and unexpected dial tone. There were a million reasons I could never get a boob job, I thought. I definitely couldn’t afford it and would never have the time to recover with my journalism career just beginning. Plus, it’s major, painful surgery where a million things could go wrong, and I’ve never been one to take my health for granted so why ever jeopardize that for vanity? And how could I have my dad take care of me afterwards? Despite our very close relationship – I’ve lived with him since I was 14 – this was one of those things I needed my mom for. So, with some help from my dear friend Victoria and all her padded Secrets, I chose my wardrobe carefully and faked a full A-cup, sometimes a B-cup, if I was feeling especially daring. I loved my body, and my boyfriend of five years was the only one seeing the mosquito bite-sized bumps on my chest, and he loved it all, too.

In 2008 the idea resurfaced during a friend’s wedding in St. Thomas. Her mom, a nurse who worked alongside a top-notch plastic surgeon, talked with me for two hours, about how skilled the doctor was, how safe the procedure is, how easy the recovery is, and how incredible the results are. I felt excited, like this could be a reality. But I wished that night overlooking the Caribbean that I could have talked to my own mom about it. The next day, lying on the beach, recovering from the previous night’s wine-filled haze, I knew upwards of $8,000 was not something I could justify spending. Most importantly, though, I knew I couldn’t recover at my mom’s house — and going through the process with my dad by my side was not how I envisioned it.

I still loved my body in spite of the fact that my chest looked the same as my 14-year-old brother’s, and I wasn’t in a position to make the sacrifices needed. Then a freak accident, which involved an umbrella ripping out my hoop earring, sent me to a Park Avenue plastic surgeon’s office. Botoxed lips and smooth foreheads were everywhere, and I even wore a Nicole Miller hospital gown. He stitched my earlobe and waived the $300 consultation fee for breast implants. He told me I was a perfect candidate, bringing me even closer to my dream. But the $11,000 estimate for the surgery sent me in the opposite direction – to Victoria’s Secret to treat myself to a $40 padded bra instead.

Six months later my relationship ended, and I went through at least a year of mourning the loss with no thought or care of surgery. I was in enough pain as it was and had enough healing to focus on. During this time, I needed my mom the most, and during this time, she finally arrived. Little by little, by me giving an inch and her meeting my inch, we came to a place where we talked more often, we shopped like best friends and we hugged every chance we got. I felt normal; I felt grounded; I felt loved by my mom for the first time since I was a little girl. My heart healed from my breakup, my career took off at rapid-fire speed, which positively affected my financials, and a friend introduced me to Dr. Eric Sadeh, who is the most brilliant plastic surgeon in New York City and quite possibly the solar system. I had vacation days at my job I had to use or lose in very little time, and I had my mom ready and eager to take care of me.
I woke up from the anesthesia the morning of the surgery with tears of happiness streaming down my face and a mummy-like wrap around my enlarged chest. My mom fed me acai sorbet later that day at my apartment and held a cup of ginger ale up to my mouth to sip. We watched reruns of Millionaire Matchmaker together and even hosted a party the next night for March Madness where she had a chance to meet some friends and drink a glass of wine.

I was taken back to the time I had chicken pox in the third grade and my mom played connect-the-dots on my arms and legs with a Q-tip and calamine lotion in front of our family room fireplace. Thanks to Dr. Sadeh’s skills and my mom’s nurturing and upbeat spirit, I had zero pain while recovering and even stopped taking my Percocets after only four days. I am healed – and finally a daughter who can say she has an amazing relationship with her mother.

Oh, and that she wears a 34 C bra.

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