As I sit here, at my kitchen table, typing this, my left leg is waxed below the knee. My right leg is not. (Not that you would be able to tell, since I am, as is nearly always the case these days, wearing pants. But that is a different part of this post. Be warned.) This is the way it's been ever since Saturday, when I decided to use Cub's naptime to test out one of those drugstore waxing kits. Which wasn't that bad. Actually, it was pretty good. Not like those old time home kits. Lemme tell ya-- those kits were, quite possibly, the cornerstone of the conspiracy devised and perpetrated by the salon owners with the goal of increasing revenue and tips. Because really, once you tried that at home, you were willing to pay whatever it took to have a professional do the job. I know I was.
Professional is such a stretchable term, isn't it? I sure met my share of ladies who stretched it but good before stumbling onto Vicky, the goddess of wax. Who is now, just so you know, the only one allowed down there with the hot, sticky stuff. I also don't trust anyone else near my eyebrows, or even near the insult to injury that is the PCOS-induced facial hair. In fact, nobody else is allowed to wax me anywhere. Period. Vicky is un-humanly quick, equally efficient, and she has this technique for minimizing the paaaaaain. She's also rather thorough, which means that she will make sure to get every.last.hair. Every last one. She is nice to chat with, and just plain nice.
So why then, given unrestricted access to the gold standard herself, am I sitting here with only one leg waxed? Good question. I could say that I was trying to save money. I could. And if I did, I wouldn't even be altogether lying. But why don't you settle into an armchair, or a dimestore, or whatever metaphor for ridiculously transparent psychology you prefer, and let me tell you a story? Warning-- I may or may not restrain myself from the completely unnecessary editorializing at the end. So, the story.
I saw Vicky sometime in the first half of my pregnancy with Monkey. Eye brow wax, I think, before a fancy shmancy function. She mentioned then that a number of her clients come to see her for a bikini wax before giving birth. Makes it less messy after, they said. Uhm, thought I. Not really sure I want to try the lift your leg like so acrobatics inherent in the procedure when I am, you know, huge.
But then it turned out that I had placenta previa. And by turn out I mean I had a huge bleed in the middle of a mall, the day after my thesis defense. Better than the day before, no question. Anyway, these bleeds, they come with hospitalizations and bedpans. Fuuuuuuuun! But as my previa was partial, and as I was deemed a highly responsible and compliant patient, and as I live a short distance away from the hospital, I was allowed to go home after these episodes. And then the placenta moved, and I was cleared for a vaginal birth, but with a big red star on my folder, indicating that should things go to pot, there was a c-section with my name on it faster than you could say any of it.
These hospitalizations, though, taught me a few things. One, I hate bedpans. Hate them. Two, duuuuude, blood is messy. Especially when you can't see so well what all you are doing cleaning it up. So I started rolling that whole bikini wax idea in my head. Still wasn't too excited about it, but could now see the point. So I made a deal with myself-- if I should make it to the week of my due date, I will make an appointment for the day before said due date. I did, and I did. And I went. And Vicky, being the goddess of wax, used all kinds of tricks and table positions to minimize the awkwardness of the lift your leg like so bit.
Next day, the due date, in fact-- spontaneous labor, no real surprises (except for a little bleed at the end that made them all nervous for a bit, but turned out to have been only a long scratch courtesy of Miss Monkey), no def con anything, one gorgeous, loud baby. [If you are squeamish, skip to the next paragraph.] Ok, I warned you-- also hemorrhoids that the nurses on the post partum floor called bad. You know you are screwed when the nurses call them bad. And one haematoma, just for giggles.
For weeks after that, as I stumbled around with my little blue donut pillow, the one that made it possible for me to sit, I praised the wisdom and skill of Vicky, the goddess of wax, at least once daily. Because she clearly spared me some major post partum hassle. And I vowed that I would totally get a wax next time. Like no duh.
Of course next time was different, in so many ways. The baby, he was gorgeous, but not loud. Silent, forever. The labor, induced and weeks before due date. So among these big things, it didn't bother me that I didn't get that wax. But the added mess in the weeks after-- it stang a bit every time I was dealing with it, taunted me in its small way with how hugely not to plan the whole thing went.
You know what was worse? Needing to go see Vicky right around my actual due date. Because I had, without considering all the logistical implications, agreed to go on a cruise vacation shortly after the due date. JD made a pitch centered around the tragic truth we all know only too well-- everything around us was the same, everyone else's lives were the same. It was only our world that crashed. Let's not sit around looking at that, let's go somewhere else and try to make new memories. Sounded reasonable, and so, despite feeling a bit overwhelmed by the prospect, I agreed. Forgot to consider the whole will need to wax thing. In fact, forgot to consider any of the self-care things that go into an undertaking like this.
Result? Surreal and agonizing few days, as I packed, got a pedicure, got a wax, packed some more. And talked to friends about how I was terrified of happy people trying to engage me in a conversation. In the middle of all that, I had to call to make the appointment for that wax. And then I had to go to said appointment. With Vicky, who's known me for years. Years. I was facing the prospect of not only having to get a not-pregnant wax, but also, and this was gonna be FUN, having to tell yet another person that my baby died. In the end, my sister went the day before I was scheduled to go. Ostensibly to get an eyebrow wax. But really, to tell. To make it less of a horror show for me. I love my sister.
I also love Vicky, who was instinctively wonderful when I came. Not intrusive. Not spouting platitudes. Gentle, kind, on the ball. She did all she could do, and yet, it was not enough. Not because there was anything else she could've done. Simply because nothing, then, could've been enough. It was my mistake-- doing things that used to make me happy when nothing could make me happy. I poisoned the well.
And so this is principly why my left leg is waxed below the knee while my right one is not. I was using the home kit, and then the virus I contracted sometime Friday really went to town, and so I didn't have the lung capacity to deal with the other leg. Maybe this weekend. But I was using the home kit largely because the activation energy for making an appointment with Vicky has grown for me since A died. Oh, I still go. I am not suicidal enough to attempt bikini waxing by myself. (I went before the Cub was born, for example-- guessed the right week in my modified bedrest saga and everything. Made for a much easier self-care while living on the NICU couch afterwards, let me tell you.) And I take my face to Vicky once in a while too. But I used to go more frequently, I think. At least it feels like I did. Once I am there, I am good. It's just there is a higher and steeper wall to climb in picking up the phone to call for an appointment.
Well, since we are being this honest, there's likely another reason I am not eager to see Vicky these days. I am huge, again. And this time, there is no excuse in progress. I am trying to be nice to my body. I understand that most of these offending pounds tell the story of pregnancies and hormonal upheavals they bring with and leave behind. But it doesn't make me happy to see it. And so I wear mostly pants. And I avoid putting myself in a position where I have to face the heft unnecessarily. Which is, of course, a very debatable point. What is unnecessarily? And I don't really know how much of what I put into this word is just the heft, just my discomfort at being this large, at being this uncomfortable in my body, and how much is the bereavement, still.
photo by Meredith_Farmer
What about you? What are your habits of self-care? Have they changed in your bereavement? What do you miss? What is new, in the after?
This post is a part of The Body Shop at Glow in the Woods -- a month of themed reflections and memes that explore what we do in an effort to occupy these physical selves with grace after babyloss.