“Those are my scars,” says my oldest, and she holds up two hands and points to the remains of a laparoscopic surgery I had to have while she was 21 weeks, floating around in a happy warm uterus while I laid on the table, crying and praying. Cysts that were too large had to come out, they told me, and for what it’s worth, everything went as well as could be expected except for the four little slices that grace the middle sides of my belly.
“That one is mine. It’s the biggest,” brags my son, whose flip-flop ability to turn himself in circles managed to wrap the umbilical cord around his neck. With each contraction, his heart rate dropped as much as the color in my husband’s face when they rushed me off to perform an emergency vertical c-section, the doctor not even changing out of her blue corduroy dress.
“These are yours,” I point with one hand and shake the other at my youngest child, showing her the fistful of stretch marks that were probably the fault of the Italian sub sandwiches I craved throughout her pregnancy. Still, I give her the glory. Without her, they (hopefully) would never exist.
For all the marks and scars that have healed in the worst way possible, I still proudly wear a two-piece bathing suit. There is no shame in slices and dices, and no shame in what I have given for my children, and I have given a lot.
But now I find myself facing my own new scar, one I am going to earn all by myself. It will belong to no one else but me.
Somewhere between nursing babies and catching strep throat from my elementary school children, without knowing I developed a swollen lymph node right smack dab at 2:00 in my left breast. “Harmless,” they tell me. “Unchanging,” they tell me. “We’d better just take it out,” they tell me.
This was never something I could have imagined, a small and probably benign lump measuring less than a centimeter in diameter having total control on my life. I wake up, and I remember it’s there. I lay in bed at night and wonder how it got there in the first place and try hard not to ask why I got to be the lucky one with a lumpy boob. I close my eyes and am incredibly thankful of what news I could have gotten instead of the controllable prognosis that I did.
As I prepare for a surgery so minor compared to the others I’ve had, I can’t help but think of how this scar will match up against the others around it. Small and hidden under the confines of even the skimpiest bathing suit, this scar will belong to me forever and always. There is no one else to claim it -— no one caused it. I earned it for no one. Yet, I take full and complete credit. I take the credit for being a person who cares enough about her life to do what it takes to continue being a wife, mother, and woman, even if it means another story to tell and, finally, a scar to call my very own.
Bio: Karrie McAllister, Mamazina Magazine’s graphic designer and regular columnist, has dabbled in everything from coal mining to culinary classes. She and her family live in Northeast Ohio where conversations in the grocery store and pierogis are as common as Amish buggies. Her column, Small Town Soup, appears in local newspapers and she is published on a variety of Web sites. Read more at her blog, Mom, Writer, Dirt-lover at www.KarrieMcAllister.com.