I was a wild teenager. Translation: rude, disrespectful asshole. When someone is a rude, disrespectful asshole before they turn eighteen, we say “wild teenager” because we know their brain isn’t fully developed, thus giving them a bit of a pass on their terrible actions and attitude. I’m not really sure if I deserve that pass now that I’m almost forty, and I’m quite certain I won’t take the same shit I doled out when my own children become “wild teenagers,” but you should have seen me back in the day. My level of disrespect could have given punk rock a run for its money.
When I turned eighteen, my mother gave me $80 to buy a new pair of shoes for my birthday. So I did what any anti-authority asshole would have done. I bought a $40 pair of shoes and pocketed the rest for my first piercing. Hey, it was the 90s.
In the 90s, most disrespectful assholes were walking around with a nose ring, or an eyebrow piercing. Those were cool, but I was a real pill. I needed to take it to the next level. You’re probably thinking nipple ring—good guess, but no. Think lower. Nope, not belly button. Lower. Yup.
At age eighteen, I decided to pierce my lady-bits. Because you never think about the future when you’re eighteen.
For ten years I walked around with a genital piercing. Even when I met the man who would become my husband and the father of my children. Even when I grew up and became less of an asshole. I got married and started a normal life keeping house and working. I was an adult.
I thought about taking the piercing out a couple of times, and I tried. But this was a horseshoe shaped ring with a ball in the middle, forming a complete circle and I eventually discovered I would need a professional piercer with a tool to remove it. Who had time for that? And, not that I had suddenly become modest, but I wasn’t about to go into a store and drop trou a stranger to handle my parts. I was an adult now.
That’s when I got pregnant.
I’d had an eight-year relationship with my OB-GYN previously, so she knew about the metal I was packing in my pants. “No big deal,” she said. The piercing wasn’t in the way of my vaginal opening. “Lots of women with genital piercings deliver without issue.” After a pleasurable and complication free pregnancy of forty weeks, she checked me into the hospital for an induction.
We arrived on a Thursday night and I tried to get as comfortable as possible in a strange, sterile place with an extra 60 pounds of pregnancy weight on me. They administered medication to ripen my cervix, gave me medication to sleep, and we began to wait.
I awoke the next morning to a doctor breaking my water. “We’d like to push labor along,” yeah, I’m sure. I sat, wondering if this was all normal. They started Pitocin, gave me an epidural, and I waited some more.
After two days in labor—two freaking days!—I’d dilated 3 centimeters.
My parents came to visit. They sat with my husband and me while my mom made nervous small talk and my father sang me Broadway show tunes. That’s when all the machines began to beep and ding and the nurses and doctor ran in with an oxygen mask for my face.
The next moments were kind of a blur, they were talking to me but all I heard was, “Baby, distress, lack of oxygen, C-section.” I waved them along, “Do whatever you have to do.” I was worried. I wanted my baby. Now. Healthy. Mine.
The nurses came back in and said, “Um, (cough) Amy? Um, we have to discuss (cough) your jewelry.”
“Jewelry? She’s not wearing any jewelry,” Mom said.
Oh, shit. After all these years, I’d never told my mom about my eighteenth birthday gift to myself. My husband understood and shooed my parents out the door while I dealt with the nurses. I took the oxygen mask off my face. “What’s the problem? I was told this wouldn’t be a problem.” The nurse with the bigger set of balls started, “Well sugar, it wasn’t a problem for natural labor but it’s a huge problem for a surgical situation.”
The reason you’re not allowed to wear jewelry while having a C-section is that, worst case scenario, if they need to bring you back to life with those paddles, well, wherever you have jewelry will get “burned”. Lovely.
Another nurse chimed in, “We’re gonna have to try and cut it off.”
Cut it off? What!?
So there I was, being prepped for C-section, when three nurses came into my room with a fucking bolt cutter.
A big. Ass. Bolt cutter.
And they were going for my vagina with it.
While I’m not an incredibly vain person, all the possible options of what could go wrong were swimming through my head while I clenched my eyes shut and cursed my asshole teenage self for this stupid, careless decision I’d made ten years ago.
It’s a really good thing my belly was as massive as it was at the time. I didn’t need to see that. It took several attempts to discover that surgical grade steel was not going to give in to the bolt cutter and eventually we made the decision to put tape over the piecing, praying that I wouldn’t need to be brought back to life and BBQ my bits.
Thankfully, they didn’t have to.
And, compared to the visual of my labia being excised by a bolt cutter, a C-section was less painful than I’d imagined.
My baby was born into this world. Perfect and pink, and all memories of the labor and the complications and the bolt cutter were forgotten.
Then I got pregnant again.
I was almost eight months along when I went for my final monthly visit and my new OB-GYN, a fantastically flaming man with an amazing sense of humor, examined me and said, “Girl! You still haven’t had your piercing removed?”
Ugh. I was dreading going to a piercing shop, in all my pregnant glory, to pay someone to examine my nudity and remove this piercing. “You can just tape it again,” I attempted. Yeah, that wasn’t so bad. “No way, sister,” yelled my doctor. “That’s not how I do a C-section! That’s your homework. Get that thing out.”
I went to a local piercing and tattoo shop and they had a huge sign of the front door that read, “If you are pregnant, sunburned, drunk, high, broke, or rude, do not enter.”
This should be fun. I swallowed my pride, and the last breath of air I could muster as I walked through the door. I waddled inside up to the desk where a girl styled to look like a pin-up chick, waited. Her hair was in a huge curl upon her head, amazing tattoos adorned her slender body. “I’m so out of my league,” I thought.
I explained the situation to her in a nervous, stream-of-consciousness, run-on sentence. I told her about the bolt cutters, and my complete procrastination in getting this odd circumstance taken care of. I told her I’d probably have to deliver this baby myself; squatting in the woods somewhere if I didn’t get this piercing removed, as my doctor wanted to wring my neck.
She took me to her little medical-office simulated part of the shop. She had me remove my underwear, lift my dress and sit on a table. She used betadine solution, grabbed a small metal tool and popped the ball from the horseshoe piercing. She removed it, cleaned it and gave it to me in a little plastic bag, remarking on the war wounds the piece now had on it: three large grooves from the bolt cutter incident.
All together I’ve had three successful C-sections resulting in three beautiful sons.
I carry the piercing in my wallet to remind me of how far I’ve come from being an asshole. But, like most adults, owning up to my mistakes, and resolving them, also means knowing when to close that chapter entirely. For example, my mom still doesn’t know about my ‘jewelry’ and why should I go running to mommy and tell her about it when I’m finally a grown-up mom myself?
Excerpted from It’s Really 10 Months Special Delivery: Stories from girth to birth with permission. Buy the book for more hilariousness!