If I'm being honest, I would say that my preoccupation with my nipples began when I was a young teenager. I picked up a Cosmopolitan magazine that a previous vacationer had tossed aside at a condo at the beach and read articles that my uber-conservative parents would have never allowed into our house. My nipples were supposed to be erogenous zones, so said Cosmo, yet they weren't. Considering this, I gave them small pinches and tugs and felt...well...nothing. How disappointing.
Fast-forward ten years and through consistent attention over time I trained them to be quite sensitive indeed. So sensitive, in fact, that when I started having babies and nursing it was quite painful. After nursing three children for a grand total of 5 years (and most of that was my daughter who nursed until she was 3) I had the desperate urge to reclaim my nipples as my own. After my third child was born, I knew that I was finished procreating, and by the time he weaned at 8 months, I felt that my physical duties of milk-production were fulfilled.
I always thought that nipple rings were beautiful. I always wanted them, but I wanted to already have nipple piercings, not necessarily to have them pierced. I am not into pain at all. I don't think my body makes endorphins, as I have never experienced that post-piercing “rush” that so many people describe. It just plain hurts. Then it goes from the sharp pain of piercing, to a dull, throbbing pain for days of weeks until that finally fades away. Finally, after much consideration, I decided to go through with it and get my nipples pierced.
It has been 6 years now since the initial piercing, and the pain memories have faded, but I still remember that it hurt. It hurt badly. The seat belt in the car on the way home was unbearable and I had to put it behind my back. The baby discovered them almost instantly and treated them as door-knockers whenever I held him in my arms. It took them a year to fully heal. For a normal person this would have been the end of the story, the excitement would have faded, and they would either remain, or they would be removed once I lost interest.
I've never been accused of being normal.
A year went by and my family moved to another, less conservative state. I had new friends with multiple tattoos and facial piercings and it was all socially acceptable. I suppose it was the new environment that awakened my interest in body modification. I could do whatever I wanted and without the constant voice in my head saying, “But what will people think?”
Seemingly unrelated was a minor annoyance that I had dealt with since childhood. I had my earlobes pierced at the mall with a gun at age 6. No matter what earrings I tried, they would get infected, I would take the earrings out, and they would heal up. So every time I wanted to wear earrings, I had to re-pierce my ears. Ouch! While poking yet another earring through a sore lobe it occurred to me that my surgical steel nipple rings never caused me any grief. I decided to try steel in my ear lobes. Not initially intending to stretch them, I tapered them just to 14g.
When I got my first hip tattoo, I fell in love with an employee's earlobes. They were stretched to about 1/2” with steel tunnels and have captive rings going through them. Watching the rings swing freely as she moved was a pleasant distraction from the tattoo gun pain. I wanted that. Now the size was not conducive to my professional career, but I felt I could achieve a smaller version of the same idea. That's when the thought first occurred to me to stretch my nipples.
In uncharted waters, not knowing how to do this safely, I went to a “professional” at a tattoo parlor. Never again.
My nipples were originally pierced at 12g and that was the number that was stuck in my head. What I didn't realize was that somewhere along the way in changing jewelry, I had switched to 14g rings and my piercings had shrunk to that size.
Two years after the initial piercing, when I decided to stretch them, the piercer looked at the rings that I was wearing and at the 10g jewelry that she planned on putting in, she said those aren't 12g rings, they are 14g.
So I had them stretched "professionally" back to the same size they were originally. I swear it hurt worse than the original piercings. She jammed the taper through fast and they both tore and bled a little bit and took forever to heal.
I still wanted to continue to stretch, so after a long healing time (about a year) as well as some time to forget the pain, I started researching online.
The best advice that I was able to find stressed only stretching up to the next size and then allowing for adequate healing time. Patience is the key here. The fistule through the skin heals from the outside in, so a piercing that looks fully healed on the outside may not be fully healed on the inside.
Several times I thought my piercings were ready to stretch to the next size and they weren't, so I would stop and wait. Often I would have to wait a few months. If you don't you risk a blow out and tissue damage which will result in thick hard scar tissue that will be harder if not impossible to stretch later.
Before stretching, I would always take a hot shower. Besides cleaning the skin to minimize the risk of infection, the heat would relax the tissue and make it more pliable.
I use a taper, the longer the better because the stretch is more gradual. I usually use a lubricant and above all else, I go slowly. Sometimes it takes me hours to get the taper through, sometimes it goes through with little resistance.
The longer the amount of time that I allow to pass between stretching, the better my results have been.
The largest my nipples piercings ever got was 2g. Then the unexpected happened, and I woke up one morning to find that one ring had fallen out in my sleep and the largest ring I could squeeze in was 6g. Two years worth of progress went down the drain. I so desperately wanted 0g (at least) nipples.
I tried to forget about them. It made me sad to think I had been so close and now my goal felt so far away again.
Just last week, in the shower I started gently playing around with a 4g taper, and to my delight it slid right in. Maybe my goal is within reach after all. Until then, I will press on, testing the limits of my body and delighting in the progress.