On Eyebrows and Epidurals

My eyebrows seem to have disappeared over time, so I decided to have them ‘microbladed’ this week.  Any term with the word ‘blade’ suggests pain, and although described as similar to playful kitten scratches, it felt more like a mauling. Part of it is my sissy-low pain threshold but I didn’t expect to be writhing like a landed fish while enduring threats from my aesthetician that the pain was in my head and my eyebrows would looks like a roadmap if I didn’t sit still.  She also noted that my face is ‘large’, (I hope that at least meant I have high cheekbones), and ‘expressive’, and demanded that I stop moving my entire big face while I was at it. Trying to add a some levity, get my mind off the torture, and make her like me a little more, I changed the subject to the fail-safe topic of kids.  I learned that she has two, just like me, but our paths to motherhood diverged greatly with our second children.

I was one of those women who thought carefully about natural childbirth– and the joys of going through that beautiful, meaningful process with nothing but a mantra, stress ball, ice chips, and hand-wringing partner– and then said nah, give me the damn epidural…NOW.  It worked splendidly, and child number two was delivered via emergency c-section, in which case there was no option but to bring on the anesthesia.  In sum, my babies were delivered with good care, minimal pain, and at a bargain price due to good insurance coverage.

My aesthetician, on the other hand– a small business owner and child of Vietnamese immigrants– lost her insurance after her first child was born, and had to max out her credit card to pay the $5,000 fee to deliver her second child.  The epidural was an expensive luxury that she could no longer afford, so she suffered through a prolonged labor and painful birth, coached on by a husband who helpfully shouted at her to ‘be quiet and calm down’.  The doctors hurried the delivery and put the baby at risk of a blood infection, so the child was sent to intensive care for two days, which added another $7,200 to the tab.  She thought about suing her doctors but gave up, knowing it would cost even more, with no clear result.  She told me that having her children made it all worthwhile, but I can’t imagine what she had to endure, and the crushing debt she took on.  Not to mention no paid leave or sick days.
Meeting someone like this makes me feel fortunate for what I have, and wish that everyone could have access to affordable insurance.  I realize Obamacare wasn’t perfect, but I’m not convinced its replacement is better.  We will have to see how the latest iteration of health care reform plays out, but it is starting to look more and more like the land of ‘haves’ and have nots’, especially for womens’ reproductive rights. I hope to follow the plight of this woman, and see if she manages to find decent insurance in this brave new world, if I have the courage to return.
My second, lesser point is to never, ever have a major new body procedure done before a big event.  Ideally, clear your schedule, jet off to a sunny place, and come back when you’re damn well ready. Most of us can’t afford such a luxury, so my only advice is to plan carefully.  I imagined efficiently attending our son’s concert, our daughter’s ballet, a baby shower, and entertaining family, all in the same week, with fierce new eyebrows.  But, instead of Karlie Kloss, I got Groucho Marx.  It will heal and supposedly look better in time, but I am spending this very hectic week skulking around in Jackie O sunglasses like a fool and wishing I had left well enough alone.