In early December, I tripped and split my forehead open in our apartment, an event I have discussed extensively and that has been the source of countless hours of self-reflection and musing. I promise I’ll stop writing about it after today, but it was such a jarring incident that I have worked assiduously to understand why it happened and what I was meant to take from it despite the fact that many loved ones (including many of you in your dozens of beautiful comments) reminded me that accidents happen. Do they, though?! I am a staunch believer that everything happens for a reason; as my mother puts it, “coincidences are God’s way of remaining anonymous.” Further, as I expounded upon here:
“You may not see it today or tomorrow,
but you will look back in
a few years and be absolutely
perplexed and awed
by how every little thing
added up and brought
you somewhere wonderful — or
where you always wanted to be.”
That said, I appreciated the affordance of being reminded that we are all fallible and that I shouldn’t engage in too much browbeating over my clumsiness — especially when one of the first things I said to Mr. Magpie as I lay on the floor in a pool of blood was “I am so sorry!” Being in the fourth month of my pregnancy only escalated my anxieties and fanned the flames on my feelings of remorse (“how did I let this happen?!”), so I ultimately found peace in trusting that even though there is purpose in everything that happens, sometimes (often?) we are the unwitting pawns in the unraveling of that plan and we can’t see the forest for the trees.
I swing back and forth on this pendulum of fate vs. agency. I trust there is meaning and intent in all that happens, but also feel a tremendous amount of responsibility for everything that happens in my life. I’m not sure how to reconcile the two except for to say that some days, I lean more heavily on my belief in the former and other days I cling to the latter, and I have come to accept — if not intellectually grasp — the atonality between the two. Not everything resolves itself in a tidy equation, as I discovered when I turned thirty four. Becoming an adult has been an exercise in accepting irresolution as a condition of life.
There were also myriad other more trivial learnings from this fall that I thought I’d round up here:
- Doctor up. One of the worst parts about my fall was that I did not have a general internist to call for input on whether I should go to the E.R. for stitches or not. The wound was shallow but long and we later learned that any cut over an inch in length on the face should be repaired. (Mine was almost two. Yuck.) I had seen a general internist at some point in the last year but had hated her (she talked over me, was strangely judgmental, and was too quick to prescribe antibiotics for a run-of-the-mill cold — and I had told her that I avoid medicine unless absolutely necessary) and refused to go back to her. I’d been putting off finding another general internist. Lesson learned. I took my time tracking down a well-reviewed family practitioner and scheduled an appointment for an annual check-up more as a ploy to kick the tires. In New York, at least, this is a non-negotiable, as few doctors will see a new patient immediately; when I fell, I scrambled to see if a doctor would see me immediately, but they all told me I’d have to come by in three weeks (!!!) So my only options were to stop by a minute clinic or trek over to an overcrowded E.R., where I knew I’d be the lowest priority patient and would sit waiting for hours. I now have a general internist to call in similar situations and feel the most enormous sense of relief.
- Doctor up, again. A few readers suggested that — even after I eventually had my forehead repaired by my angel of a neighbor, who is an E.R. doctor at Cornell — I should see a plastic surgeon, just to understand how to best minimize scarring. (There were so many different suggestions about what to do that I felt a sense of whiplash — what to put on my scar? What to avoid?!) One incredibly kind reader (thank you!) recommended her own doctor, Nina Naidu, and I had an incredible experience with her. She let me come in the next day for a consultation and though I still feel vaguely nauseous when I think about the fact that we spent hundreds of dollars on about ten minutes of conversation with her (barf — #wedontacceptinsurancehere), I feel it was money well spent. I left feeling (finally) calmer about the situation, even though she confirmed my fear that this scar is here for the long haul and will always be visible. It still felt better to know what I should do to minimize its appearance and — bonus! — she complimented the repair work of my neighbor, marveling over how tidy the stitches were. Sometimes seeing an expert, even when nothing can be done, is the only way to quiet the nerves and begin to move forward
- Wear sunscreen. Everyday. I used to apply my SPF-infused tinted moisturizer and call it a day. Dr. Naidu encouraged daily sunscreen to minimize the appearance of the scar, and it’s now a permanent fixture in my skincare routine and I’ll never stop. I’d been meaning to get more serious about my anti-aging regimen anyway; this was as perfect a wake-up call as any. I am IN LOVE with this fluid sunscreen from La Roche Posay, which melts into the skin with no white residue and layers very easily over my serum. (I use a brightening serum, then sunscreen, then moisturizer.) It boasts SPF60 as well as UVA/UVAB protection. It’s a surprisingly small bottle for the price but it lasts a very long time — a little goes a long way. I’m still using the first bottle I bought in early December!
- Be gentle with your skin. I had always heard that you should apply skincare products in a gentle upward motion to avoid wrinkles and undue stress on your skin, but summarily dismissed the advice. When my forehead was still very tender, I was surprised at how even the gentlest of strokes tugged at my stitches. It made me realize how rough I had been with my skin! I’ve since learned to be a lot gentler with my skin, and to carefully smooth products with a lighter (upward!) touch.
- Don’t skimp on skincare. There are lots of areas you can go the bargain route when it comes to beauty. I’ve heard, for example, from multiple beauty insiders that there is very little difference between mascaras by prestige cosmetics companies and those by drugstore brands. (Someone recently told me it’s all about the brush, anyway!) A few of my favorite inexpensive beauty finds (many recommended by my readers): this clear brow gel, drugstore shampoo (<<this stuff just works, even though I alternate with pricier brands), this moisturizing/setting/toning spray. But core skincare? Ever since the fall, I’ve decided that I will always invest in a pot of La Mer moisturizing cream, even if I supplement with this gel moisturizer for late-afternoon pick-me-ups. I swear that my skin has never looked healthier. I’m a convert. I’m highly intrigued by Augustinus Bader’s Rich Cream, which seems to be EVERYWHERE right now and has grown quite the cult following. One thing to keep in mind with Bader’s tincture is that you are not supposed to use a serum beneath it; it includes a serum in its formula! So, though it is very pricey, if you subtract the cost of your usual serum from the regimen, I find it more legitimizable. (Still, I’m going to stick with La Mer in the short term because it was originally designed to minimize scarring on burn victims!) Finally, the plastic surgeon gave me a tube of SkinMedica’s scar recovery gel, which I have applied to the scar twice a day. She told me that women with darker shades of skin benefit from using Vitamin E oil and cocoa butter, but fairer skins fare (ha!) better with this silicon gel formula. The entire regimen is not cheap but — it’s my face!!! Not an area I want to skimp on.
- Slow down. The biggest lesson from all of this: just.slow.your.roll. Pressure is a choice and there was absolutely no reason why I should have been racing around my apartment on a random Saturday evening.
- Keep a sense of humor. I was painfully self-conscious about my forehead for the first few weeks after the fall and in fact wore a steri-strip over it for weeks, feeling better when the wound was covered. It was paradoxically easier for me to call attention to it — “oh, this bandaid? I tripped and fell and had to get nine stitches!” — than to wonder whether so-and-so was sitting across from me, wondering what had happened to my head. That said, I would often follow up my quick explanation with the admittedly funny context for the fall, which was that a pizza from Joe’s had just arrived and I was literally sprinting to my room to get something so I could eat. I was four months pregnant and HANGRY. #PREGNANTWOMANPROBLEMS. I always get a good laugh when the headline is: “Pregnant Woman Sprints to Pizza Dinner and Winds Up with Nine Stitches.”
- Be demure in asking others about their well-being. Between my pregnancy and my head wound, I felt as though my body had become a public space: strangers would comment on my belly, on my forehead with regularity. (“What happened to you?” asked a cashier when I really did not want to talk about it.) I felt as though the tenderest parts of my life were on display, ripe for public commentary. I hated it. I have always known not to ask a woman whether she is pregnant unless she has previously established it and I trust myself to be a reasonably sensitive and discreet person in general, but the experience was a reminder to be consciously demure in my interactions with others where their own well-being and health are concerned. Wait for them to broach the subject.
- Time heals all wounds. An oldie but a goodie. I will always have a scar on my forehead but am astounded by how unobtrusive it has become. When my mother visited me a week ago, I asked, “How does my scar look?” She paused. “What scar?” She was being generous, but I have to admit that sometimes I look in the mirror and barely notice it. With a good pot of concealer (<<my current favorite; it is super thick but easy to blend and good at adding dimension/highlight to your face, as I think many people use it for contouring, which I known nothing about), a consistent regimen of high-end moisturizer, and time, the scar has dramatically improved in appearance.
- Be grateful. If I could go back to my scar-free forehead, I would. I know people say that scars give you character and that wrinkles are reminders of a life well-lived, but but but. Let me be honest: I’d rather not have this scar. Mine is not even an interesting story; there’s no “I fought off a wild boar while defending my child.” It’s just random clumsiness. I so wish I had been more appreciative and less critical of my blemish-free face. So now I’m checking in with myself, channeling gratitude for my ache-free bones and scar-free limbs.
OK, and I’m done. Please forgive my over-indulgence on this topic, but there we are. Vanity, thy name is woman.
*Note: I know you have loved the carousels in my most recent posts and I will pick these back up! Our sweet nanny was out last week and I am behind!
+I’ve developed an Instagram crush on Lauren Gores, the founder of cult skincare line Summer Fridays. She recently added this R&R mask to her collection and it is getting rave reviews. Immediately added to cart! She recently wore this fluffy Reformation bomber (seen above) and I immediately wanted to recreate her 70s boho look! How chic? Get the look for less with this.
+Loving these Goyard-esque pouches (check out the squared/shadow-blocked prints), personalizable with monogram! I think I am going to order one in the pink print with my initials in white for summer.
+A great indoor activity for minis during these lingering cold months.
+Dying over these for micro.
+Don’t know why but my favorite pair of non-designer-glasses-that-look-like-designer-glasses are only $48 here.