I decided to get a breast augmentation six months after giving birth. I know people will judge me for not accepting my postpartum body—but my decision gave me my self-confidence back.

By Leslie Bruce
September 13, 2019
Leslie Bruce and her daughter. PHOTO: Emma Feil Photography

The nurse and I walked into a room with what I can only describe as a wall of breasts. Displayed before me were breast implant options of varying sizes, shapes, materials, and textures. It was a literal buffet of boobies!

“I just want to fill out my bras again,” I said, but the nurse ignored me and busied herself with collecting a tray of samples. She asked me to stand, topless, in front of a machine as it photographed my existing chest from every angle, and each picture appeared on a large screen after being captured.

If I wasn’t already sure I wanted to go through with the breast augmentation procedure, the brightly lit, high-resolution images projected before me would have surely done the trick. Actually, it was the clearest look I’d ever gotten of my own chest, and it wasn’t pretty. By the time I left the office, I was armed with a folder of photos, paperwork, and images of what my chest would possibly look like at varying sizes post-surgery.

Okay, so this is the part of the story where I’m supposed to have this huge epiphany. I’m supposed to realize that, as a nursing mother, my breasts sustained my child’s life. I should be embracing my new mom bod and wearing my scars, my cellulite, and my new, slightly awkward breasts as badges of honor. I shouldn’t be ashamed of how I look; I needed to recognize the miracles of the human body.

That’s what I was supposed to do, but that’s not what I did. I got my breasts done. Look, I am well aware that putting this out there in the world is going to get me some major blowback. Someone somewhere is going to type up some nasty comments about how I’m speaking out of both sides of my ugly mouth. How I’m telling moms to ignore the social pressures and Instamom phenomenon and totally subscribing to it. What crazy lady runs and gets her breasts done after Baby?

Honestly, I totally understand their point. It’s not normal! It also isn’t cheap, so it’s not an option for all the women who consider it (it took me two years to pay off those bad boys). I know certain people may judge me for focusing so much on my appearance postpartum, but it was something that I needed do for me. I felt deformed. Whether or not another woman would feel the same way in my skin, I don’t know, but that’s just how I felt. I wanted to look in the mirror and not feel like I was going to cry. My breasts had changed as a result of pregnancy and nursing; they would never be the same and I did what I needed to do in order to accept that.

Leslie Bruce and her family. PHOTO: PHOTO: Emma Feil Photography

Two weeks after the consultation, I went in for surgery. People often wonder whether I was nervous about going under anesthesia with such a young child at home or scared about being cut open, but my answer is always no. I literally had an eight-pound human pulled out of my stomach; this was a piece of cake.

Not long after the procedure, I felt a small boost in my self-confidence. Sure, my pre-baby physique had a solid ab wall and was devoid of stretch marks, but I didn’t have boobs!

Let me be clear: this is not an advertisement for postpartum women to get breast implants after they have a baby (although it may sound a little bit like it at times). Actually, what I did is nutty, but a mother’s journey to reclaim her sense of self is complex and hard fought. This was a decision I made because my breast tissue was so severely damaged by the complications I experienced while breastfeeding, and my postpartum body was doing a number on my head.

The surgery forced me to hit pause for a few weeks while I recovered, and, miraculously, my body started to recalibrate on its own. The pounds disappeared. As my hormones balanced, my skin bounced back and my hair grew again. Giving myself that small, B-cup-sized victory allowed me the chance to breathe, and during that brief respite, my body naturally did what thousands of years of evolution trained it to do.

And—you’re not going to love this—it wasn’t until Tallulah’s first birthday that I started to feel like myself again because that’s when I became more comfortable with the “new me.” It took that long for all the components of my new mom life—the emotional, the physical, and the mental—to establish some sort of balance. That isn’t to say “don’t bother even trying until your kid is 1;” you need to do what is best for your psyche when it comes to your physicality postbaby, which is the real point I’m getting at. Once I started to regain my confidence, I was a happier woman, and being a happier woman allowed me to be a better, more patient, and caring mom. All this shit is interrelated. It’s so exhausting.

I am actually very grateful for everything my body did for me and my children. It may not seem that way, but it’s true. I am allowed to respect my body for what it is capable of and do things for myself to feel comfortable in my own skin. I needed to find my path forward to embracing this new body, to finding comfort and acceptance. When I stopped trying to force myself into my old shell, I finally found peace in the new woman I had become. My hips are always going to be a bit wider; I’m always going to have a scar. There are some stretch marks here and there, and some pounds that will never go away. I have a few more grays, a few more fine lines, and constant dark circles. I’m finally okay with it. I look at my daughter and can hardly believe that I made her. Every inch of her is sheer perfection, and I created her in my body. And that is a miracle.

Excerpted from You Are A F*cking Awesome Mom by Leslie Bruce. Copyright © 2019. Available from Seal Press, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, Inc.

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