Wednesday, July 28, 2010


It took me a few days to actually take the prescription that the surgeon had given to me; I'm quite wary of what potential effects pills might have on my body. Worried about the double risk of high blood pressure, I stopped taking my anti-depressant when I began taking the phentermine*. It only took a few days for me to feel the effects, and let me tell you: I was on top of the world. I had boundless energy, I was getting so much done, and I wasn't preoccupied with food, other than to make sure that I got the fuel that I needed. Plus, I was losing about a pound a day. I can see how someone could very easily get addicted to that.

I chose to keep my decision to have surgery a private one. I did tell a few people, my Inner Circle, as well as the people who would be traveling far to help out during recovery (my mom, my dad, and la yen). I didn't feel it was something one ought to bring up in casual conversation. I certainly didn't want to sound braggy, most especially because I didn't feel braggy; I felt excited and nervous. Also, people have opinions . . .

I knew that part of my decision was that I would need to steel myself: have complete confidence in myself and my decision. That even if everyone around me said I (or the procedure itself) was crazy or wrong, that I still had confidence that this was the right decision for me. I had my reasons. I had my plan. And it was on my own -- I didn't have anyone in my life who, to my knowledge, had done this before. This was completely uncharted territory in my life.

One day I was dining with friends when, as an extension of a recent blog post, the topic came up in conversation. Admittedly, I was eager to hear what people had to say. The majority of comments were against elective procedures, and strongly so. Words sounding like accusations were thrown around: vain, selfish, prideful. Interesting conclusions were being drawn about What Kind Of Woman would voluntarily do this sort of thing to herself.

I could take it, and I listened intently. I was, of course, wanting them to know where I came from, but didn't volunteer myself. And to be frank, the sharpness with which some of the words were spoken indicated to me that those who spoke had no interested in being convinced, or even enlightened, contrary to their own opinions.

What bothered me most, I have to say, were the comments regarding two specific loves of my life: my husband ("What kind of man would allow his wife to do this to herself?" "What kind of man would want a woman to do this to herself, unless it was for his own sexual, lustful agenda?") and my children ("When women do this, they're telling their children that they aren't good enough, that their bodies aren't good enough." "Think of the damage this does to children, especially daughters!"). As the wife of a good man, the best kind of man, and the mother of children, including four daughters, let me say this: . . . Well, you know, I don't really know. I've been sitting here for a couple minutes with the cursor blinking at me, trying to come up with something fierce, something to convey my mother-bear-ness when people insinuate things about my family. But all I can think to do is to think that until you listen -- really listen -- to individuals and their reasoning for doing what they do, whether or not you agree with it: As For Me And My House. That sort of thing. And that I'm here when you're ready to hear it. But don't hit below the belt by insulting my family's welfare.

As October 15th drew nearer, I had one more thing I needed to do: tell my kids. Not the (then) 5 & under crowd, they wouldn't (and don't, really) remember. But the (then) 10 year old and 8 year old deserved to know why their mom was going to be hiding in her room for 6 weeks. Darin and I sat down with them individually, and each conversation's beginning was identical:

"What do I do each morning before you go to school?"

"Go to the gym."


"To be healthy."

We discussed what it means to be healthy, how we take care of our bodies, etc., and then I told them that I was going to have surgery to fix some of my muscles that had become detatched, which would make my exercise more effective. I did NOT tell them that I was going to get my body fixed because I had so many babies (because 1, it's not true, and 2, I didn't want them to think that they were the cause of my needing surgery). My 8YO nodded and asked if she could go play. My (then) 10YO asked if I was going to die; when I answered, "No," she asked if I would take her to Target.

The night before the surgery I spent the night in a hotel room in Layton. The morning of the surgery was kind of surreal. I remember standing in a patient room, lifting up my gown, while the surgeon drew lines all over my abdomen with a purple pen. "These Are Days" was playing through the speakers. I made a mental note that I enjoyed the satellite station they piped through at the office, something about a coffeeshop. I went into the operating room and climbed on the table. The anesthesiologist and I engaged in small talk about our mutual friend, and before I knew it --

*stay tuned for tomorrow's installment! Thank you for reading!



Emily said...

Was it us at Rooster? I'm thinking yes, and I made the kid comment?

Kristina P. said...

YOu know, as a social worker, I actually am very tolerant. I joke all the time about judging, and how it's my New Year's Resolution, etc., but it's not true, which is why it makes it funny, I suppose.

But, I have realized, I do have a little bit of judgement about elective plastic surgery. Not all the time, but it depends on the procedure. The funny thing is, I would be all over a tummy tuck and a breast life, in a heartbeat.

BTW, tell your cute daughter I am dropping off at least one tarp, possibly two, today to the Draper Sweet Tooth Fairy.

Melissa said...

Jenny - you really are an inspiration to me...thanks for sharing your story. It is just a reminder to me that we never know what is going on in someones life and that we never know why someone is the way they are (like excess weight etc). I have gained a lot of weight over the last 10 years, most of it because of health problems that were out of my control. Sometimes I felt like wearing a shirt that said "There is a reason I am fat, don't judge me!" :)

~j. said...

Emily - It was at Rooster, but I don't remember who said what, specifically.

KP - Yes, I hear(d) that a lot, that it depends on the procedure. Also? THANK YOU!!! She will be so, so thrilled!

The Lewis Family said...

I wish you had told me, I could have helped :p Hello I live around the corner and live in a white trash po-dunk house, how can I be judgmental? ;) Really though, sorry I wasn't there to help. No doubt I was kind of preoccupied in my own life with the whole not getting pregnant for what seemed like ever thing. Again, sorry.


Emily said...

Jenny - I just love you and I love that you are sharing your story. And not that my opinion matters, but I think it is your body, do what you want with it so that you are confident and happy.

You rock sister and I am proud of you for doing what you need to.

I can't wait to hear teh rest of teh story...I am waiting at the edge of my seat. And I really want to see before and after pics...I haven't seen you since before October I I have no idea what you look like currently.

~j. said...

Melissa - thank you. And, yes, you're right, we can never really know. I hope your health is improving, I know you've had a difficult time and I'm always happy to hear of when you have Good Days.

CL - No worries, serio. Like I said, I made the choice to keep the decision private, so I hope you don't feel bad about not knowing about it.

Emily - thank you, you are so kind. I don't have very many pictures of myself (as a rule), but I'll see what I can do. Or, better yet, we should get together, yes?

Rynell said...

I think if we really love one another, the judging part of us just withers up and dies. I'm working on that.

The following phrase from a hymn has stuck with me all week, "Love was their guiding star."

I'm glad you are telling your story.

Emily said...

I ought to leave well enough alone, but I never like to be misunderstood so I feel to clarify. For my part of the conversation that we had at dinner that night, there was no insinuation about your family or your family's welfare, because obviously I had no idea this was a pertinent issue for your family. I know you to be a loving mother who would always take your children's best interests to heart and I was not calling that into question.

I do think that negative body image of young girls and young women is a worrisome issue, generally speaking, and one we should all be sensitive to. Specifically speaking, there is absolutely no criticism on my part for any decision you have made. I am happy if you feel healthier and better. That's great! i am sorry that you felt attacked by anything I said.

Shannon said...

“We can never judge the lives of others, because each person knows only their own pain and renunciation. It's one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it's another to think that yours is the only path.”
I applaud you for sharing your adventure and I wish the best for you as you continue on your path!

Christi said...

It seems to me that a lot of people might possibly be asking themselves, "Was it me? Did I say something?" As I have read your story (and the Seagullah post) the most enlightening thing has been how judgmental we are without really thinking about it. It has made me take a look at my own life and what I've said to people. We need to be oh-so-careful about what comes out of our mouths (and what's rolling around in our brains).

amy said...

I really think it is awesome that you did it. I think the way you handled it with your girls is fantastic.

What you should know about those that are judging, is that they are jealous that they either don't dare do it, their husband isn't supportive or they can't afford it. Always easier to judge than be happy for someone else.

I'm jealous too, I just realize that I am so I can admit it. :)

~j. said...

Rynell - thank you for your thoughts.

Emily - Really, I did not feel attacked by anything you said. I agree that body image is a worrisome issue, particularly with daughters. In fact, I think we all have more in common than we don't, regarding these opinions.

Shannon - Thank you. It's true: mine is the path for me, and yours for you.

Chrisi - We all judge. What has been interesting to me is how quick we are to make final judgements regarding others' motives and therefore perhaps even destiny, which is dangerous. I am not immune to this, but I have learned a lot about it over the past year, and for this I am grateful.

amy - Thank you, I appreciate it. Although I will say that presuming someone else's circumstance for why they think the way they do isn't something which brings me's kind of the thing which I'm trying to rid myself of, you know? I just want to make sure that it doesn't seem like I'm collecting support while pointing my finger right back and yelling, "YEAH!" at someone else. Am I even making any sense? I appreciate your support, really. (And looking forward to seeing you soon!)

AzĂșcar said...

Oh I said most of it. But I don't think I communicated very well why I felt that way. It wasn't for you, for the prayerfully thoughtful who acted with deliberate consideration.

I was upset about young, healthy, women with nothing wrong with themselves whose parents encouraged them to have elective surgery. The classic boob-job for high school graduation scenario. That kind of thing upsets me.

swampbaby said...

Thanks for sharing your story ~j. It is no one's business what you do and I am glad you did what you knew was right for you.

Mrs. Organic said...

Realizing that everyone has a story is probably a good start towards being less judgemental. I just need to remember that more.

Thanks for telling your story.

Grace said...

Jenn, you are so amazing and brave. You do what is best for you, especially your health. The most important thing is that you are healthy and happy.

I must admit I am curious to see before and after's too. If there aren't pics then you better give numbers like weight loss total and waist size before and after. I bet you look fantastic!!
p.s. I bet your girls are VERY proud of their mom for everything she is doing to live a healthy life.

Jessica said...

here, I'm sure you can imagine, elective surgery is just a daily activity.

After my divorce, I became way less judgmental Nothing like divorce to make you realize, "there but for the Grace of God go I"

Emily said...

Love your story. Love, love, LOVE it. I knew you were awesome before, and now you're even awesomer. (Yes, it's "more awesome" but I couldn't resist!) I will admit I used to be part of the camp who thought it bordering on vanity to have elective procedures, but I've done an about-face over the past year or so. I will not judge even if I do know the story behind the procedure. To each her own, and more power to you! (Did that even make sense?!?!)

~j. said...

Azu'car - and all I got were some suitcases.

swampbaby - thank you for saying that.

Mrs. O - It's not easy to remember, that's for sure. For me, anyway.

Grace - thank you! I really, really don't have many pictures of myself at all. But maybe sometime I'll post some of how I look now.

Jessica - I can only imagine. Interesting how difficult things can make us softer towards others, you know?

~j. said...

Emily - awesomer is absolutely a word.

Steph said...

You are amazing and inspirational. I am glad we have become friends.

Tori said...

I'm jealous. I told Sei I want a tummy tuck and he said, "Ok." We are just waiting for the money to grow on our tree again. haha Good for you!! You look great.