Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Scar Remains

"The wound heals, but the scar... that scar remains."
-Every Rose Has It's Thorn (Poison, c1988)

I was in the shower on Sunday morning, as we were getting ready for church. Normally, we go to the Vigil on Saturday nights, but a combo of a birthday party for one of B&Ms friends and Ps mom speaking at the Masses at our old parish (her parish), led us to get ready for the 9:30am.  As I'm showering and shaving, I go to put the razor back in the caddy and drop it. This isn't a big deal. Except that it is.

Instead of the razor falling to the floor and perhaps snapping off the top, it falls down my upper thigh, grazing in on the way down. The spray from the shower hits it and suddenly me leg is burning and in pain. I look down and see blood all over the tub of the floor and running down my leg. Immediately, I put it under the water to clean it and get a look at, what I'm sure, is just a scratch- it's a freaking razor not an unhinged blade!- and when I back away, a sliver the length of my hand, middle finger tip to wrist, starts pouring blood. I call Peter and turn the water off.  By the time he gets to the bathroom and I grab my towel, my leg is covered in blood and he has a look of WHAT DID YOU DO on his face.

Long story short, we were able to stop the bleeding and he bandaged my leg; all the while, it's burning like I've held it to an open flame and there is a throbbing that continues all day and into the night; I eventually took an Advil because the pounding gave me a headache. The next day, I have the pleasure of removing the bandage (and the gauze wasn't no-stick... That wasn't fun). We're able to see that, in addition to the thin line of a slash, the razor also hashed my leg as it fell (how it accomplished this, I have no idea... Let's just call the damn thing possessed by a demon of some sort). The marking looks like some sort of strange,elongated tic-tac-toe board.

I have no doubt that it will scar.  I'm a scaring type person.

My scars are kind of a road map of my life.  As the Metric song says, 'under every scar, there's a battle I've lost'. My right knee and right arm: reminders of a car accident that almost did me in.  My right thigh, my left shin: reminders of fights that, funny enough, I did come out on top of. Memories of broken bones- ribs, ankles, wrists, fingers, even a cracked jaw- memories of accidents or sparring matches gone wrong (or right, if you count that I won some of those). Maya is at the age (and because she likes to narrate her life and the lives of those around her) where she points to my scars and says "Mommy hurt" and vacillates between wanting to cry over it and wanting to kiss it and make it better. I tell her that I was hurt but that I'm not hurt anymore. At seeing my newest addition and watching the bandaging unfold, she now says "Mommy hurt but Daddy fix it."

Yes. In ways more than you know when I think about some of the scars I carry around, but superficially correct this time as well.

If only all scars were so clear.  And, yet, better that they aren't.

It's National Infertility Awareness Week.  While every day is National Something Day, I was struck by something Mel said when she mentioned that infertility isn't just a part of a week, it's a part of her every day. 

If only it were a week.

If only Pregnancy and Infant Loss Day were just a day.

If only all scars were so clear.  But they aren't; that's why they are scars.  Wounds heal and we move on from them; scars stay in place, forever a reminder of the battles we lost- and the ones we've won.  Fading but every present; changed but never erased.

Today, Bobby had speech therapy and his therapist asked about the photographs on our wall.  Turns out a friend just buried her identical twin girls, born too soon at twenty weeks and living an hour in the arms of parents who loved them and wanted them so much.  Last night, I chatted with a student who has become a friend; she and her husband lost their much wanted and adored identical twin boys just as we were celebrating Bobby and Maya's second year of life.

If only our losses and our pain were enough to spare another parent the grief that we know too well.  If only our scars were enough to keep the nightmares of the what if at bay.

As I counsel parents who are trying again (or considering it)... As I walk through steps of infertility treatments... As I listen to them talk about their struggles and the lack of compassionate care and understanding...  As all of their stories unfold and interlock, I'm always amazed by how infertility is a disease by which the sick person is blamed, mocked, or ostracized.

Spend a day with my kid and you wont want kids anymore.
You have so much freedom now! Why would you want to give that up to wipe butts and snotty noses?
Just walk away with what you have and stop thinking about what might have been.

When was the last time you heard someone tell that to a cancer survivor? An AIDS patient? A war veteran who has lost a limb?

It is a war; a private one, waged on that battlefields of intimacy and hope.  It's a war where some survive and walk away, physically intact, with the medals of success (in a sling rather than pinned to their chest) in place, grateful to be home and out of active duty.  It's a war where some lose their best friends- their partners and spouses- by stray bullets that they never even saw coming.  It's a fight to save the things that others take for granted, all while trying to stay true to even a small piece of yourself.  You carry guns when you are pacifist; you take lives that you'd rather save. All in the hope that, in the end of the day, you might be able to get out of the battlefield and back to the home life you long for.

It's a war where, just when you've thought you've won, you're hit by a canon blast that leaves you limbless... childless..

It's a disease that no one sees.  That is easy to ignore.  It's a pain for which there is no medication to ease.  And the wound it tears into your heart and soul is one that, although it may one day scar, is forever hidden, ignored...wished away.

I was told a short time back that I was no longer infertile because I had my happy ending, as though the battle had been won.  But I don't see it that way.  For me, the war is one that is forever engaged in the privacy of my own body. Perhaps there is a truce at times between the two sides...Perhaps one side gets a leg up here and there. But the war still goes on.  The armistice that brought me Bobby and Maya has given me a pass to the sideline, but the war is still being waged.  And I, the forever soldier in its battle, am scarred and limbless in places, but still able to walk.

If only all scars were visible... If only people could see inside the war torn heart and realize that the scars carried are reminders of wounds too deep to heal completely.

Each night, after the kids are bathed and we do a potty run (after lotion and pajamas- of course), we read stories, take a drink of water, and say good-night. Part of the good-night ritual involves the four of us holding and kissing Nicholas, Sophia, and Alexander's box, sort of as a prayer to them to watch over us and a reminder that they are always apart of our family.  Bobby and Maya say their names now, which feels strange because Peter and I said them for so long. These little voices, saying, "Nicholas...Sophia...Alexander".  But Maya's latest edition has left me breathless and fighting back tears.  "Bobby and Maya's brothers and sister". 

"Nicholas, Sophia, Alexander; Bobby and Maya's brothers and sister."
Yes, my love...  They are your brothers and sister.

The first time, my heart choked me and the tears could not be stopped.  Maya looked at me and then wrapped her arms around my neck.  "Mommy hurt; Maya fix it."

The wound has been fixed.  Healed by kisses and hugs and love.

If only all scars could be. But they aren't; that's why they are scars. Wounds heal and we move on from them; scars stay in place, forever a reminder of the battles we lost- and the ones we've won.

Fading but every present.

Changed but never erased.


Bijoux De Feu said...

Thank you for this. Yes, the scars are there even without loss. Even when again and again there is simply another negative and another and the treatments seem not to be helping and there is no one who can undersand because "well, you are young, you'll get pregnant in no time" and you can't really explain.

Nan & Mike said...

Tears :'( knowing all too well all of what you write, many hugs xoxoxo

Ms. J said...

This is what I call "things we lost in the fire" -- the pain, the brutal, searing, always fresh and hideous pain, of the babies we lost, via m/c and the lost adoption referral.

ccc said...

Hi Just tagged you in a fun post if you want to participate!

Mandy (Indisposable Mama) said...

Wow, this is an amazing post. I just found it over on the Resolve website, and I had to take a moment to comment. The part about the scars took my breath away.

We are blessed with two children after years of infertility, and we are about to start trying for a third. The hard part is the scars. People think that we are starting a new fertility journey, but really it is a continuation of the same one. It never gets erased.

Thank you so much for sharing.