© We Are Both Right
Getting my daughter’s ears pierced was a milestone that fell right in between her saying mama for the first time and standing up on her own. She was eight months old, and in all honesty, I was starting to get nervous that I had waited too long. After all, my first and only bodily piercings were done by the time I was three months old (on my ears, of course).
When it came down to it, I wanted S. to have pierced ears before she could register a permanent memory of the experience or have to deal with caring for newly pierced ears herself. And while I wouldn’t say that cultural traditions rule my life, infant ear piercing has always seemed as natural to me as a fish dinner on Christmas Eve.
There was no question in my mind, even before I knew I was having a daughter, that I would bring her to get her ears pierced as an infant. Of course I read up on the risks of infant piercing like infection, but they didn’t set off the protective mommy alarms any more than driving with her in a car or bringing her to the doctor for shots.
My husband had already bought birthstone earrings for her first Christmas (he obviously had no hesitations about infant ear piercing either and was otherwise sentimental about being the first man to buy his little girl a gift of jewelry).
Around that time, we started polling other parents about where they went for their daughters’ ear piercings. Whether we were at day care or my son’s soccer games, I was on the lookout for other little girls with pierced ears. The recommendations ranged from someone’s sister who cut hair in her home and pierced her niece’s ears to the lone pediatrician in town who still did ear piercings in his office (our pediatrician didn’t, or that would have been my first choice). I only heard one warning about a child’s piercing becoming infected, which meant that the three-year-old had to let the holes close up and eventually went back a few years later to get them redone.
Ultimately, I checked out a highly-recommended jeweler who took the one-and-done approach (both ears would be pierced simultaneously, so there was no anticipation or anxiety on the second go-round had they been done back-to-back.)
On P-Day, my five-year-old son came along and if I hadn’t already been convinced that infant ear piercing was the best-case scenario, his reaction would have made me regret waiting any longer. As he sat with his eyes closed and back to us, other onlookers held their breath waiting to see my baby’s reaction.
S. was happily playing in my lap as two jewelers worked in unison to precisely measure, mark and triple check the positioning of the piercing sites. They sterilized her ear lobes, unwrapped the sterile packaging for the special first piercing earrings made of surgical steel, and positioned both piercings guns on her ears.
With a countdown one thousand times more precise than the one Dick Clark does on New Year’s, they synchronized the piercings. All we heard from S. was “eahhh” for a second or two, and with a quick hug from mommy she literally turned back to her captive audience with a smile and received quite a few quizzical looks back, as if to say: “That’s it? No waterworks?”
I had given her a dose of Tylenol before we went, just as if she was getting an immunization, and whether or not that made the difference, I don’t know. But she never fussed with her ears that day or even realized that she had earrings until a few months ago. Now all she asks is: “Who gave me these earrings?” since she has switched over from the baby studs to the ones Daddy bought her.
One thing I was nervous about at the time was our pediatrician’s reaction. I hoped he didn’t think I took an unnecessary risk. I did see him take note of the piercings when we went back for her next visit, but he never remarked about their condition.
As it turns out, S. has never had an infection, and beyond the initial weeks of diligently cleaning her ears with a special solution, we haven’t had to care for her pierced ears in any special way. The screw back earrings mean that they are essentially child-proof, and I don’t have to worry about her taking them out or losing them.
I wouldn’t hesitate to go the route of infant ear piercing again, with the hope that they would be her first and last.
Having a conscious memory of getting your ears pierced isn’t always a bad thing. Amanda and her daughter each had it done when they were old enough to ask for it – and enjoy the fun of picking out their own bling!
Originally published on October 23, 2010