Thursday, September 07, 2006

Getting Droopy

I have a slicing scar across my right knee. An old rugby injury. What a cliché, eh?

I was captain of the team and we were in Ohio, playing a team that I never dreamed my year and half old team would beat, but we were winning. So many of the women were rookies-- Some of them had never even seen a rugby match before playing in one. It's just a game with rules like others, but it's hard to play a game you've never even seen before. What's a ruck, maul, scrum down? Why do I have to address the ref as "sir"? What's a line out? Etc. But there we were, playing as a team on a late fall afternoon, the sky overcast and the air sharp, just as it should be for all good rugby matches. And then my knee broke. Really.

I dislocated my kneecap and broke it in three places. I tore my patello-femoral ligament right off. Stop reading now if you're going to be grossed out. It's a good thing we have kneecaps, because otherwise, our legs look really gross. When I looked down at my leg, I thought it was broken. There was no kneecap over the bones in my knees. My knee was bent. A teammate jogged up to me, took one look and gagged and ran away. Yeah. Thanks. I knew I had to make my leg straight, so I did and nearly passed out, but somehow that put the knee cap back in its proper place. Several guys from the Ohio men's side came out onto the pitch and looked at it. I thought for a brief minute that I just needed a little jog and I could play again. Then they stood me up and the pain flooded me so deeply, I did what any good rugger does in a situation like that: I called for a beer. Immediately.

By the next day, I couldn't walk on my leg at all. Partner stopped at a Meijers and bought me crutches so I could get out and use the bathroom and so we could eat breakfast, but mostly so we could eat breakfast. I had surgery the Friday before Thanksgiving-- a scope and some reconstruction. Three little scares triangulate around one big slice down my knee. After the surgery and in PT, doctors and therapist alike were concerned about how I'd react to the scar.

I fooled them all because I loved it. Still do. Just like I love the gash like scar on my left ankle from a bike accident as a kid. And some little scars just under my knuckles and my wrist bone from another bike accident where I flew over the handlebars of my ten speed bike. For awhile, a little piece of my lip was gone too, small enough that probably only I noticed it. I have a little white stripe on my ankle from shaving (yes, shaving) too fast one night as my friend Amy stood outside the shower, urging me to hurry up. Some scars are there from cooking.

There are lots of little marks on my body that I love because they tell some story about me. Not all scars have happy memories, some are painful, but the thing about scars is that they show how you've healed. How your body has knit itself back together. It's something you've survived.

For that reason, I can't quite connect with the body mania people seem to feel either during or post pregnancy. What I'd like for my body is to be able to do some of the things it did in the past with no problem. Climb up a tree lickity split. Do swimming races. Butterfly. And win. (Did I really race the 200m butterfly? I don't know if I could do a length now.) Move heavy furniture with no help. Be confident I could carry anything. Never worry about my fitness level. That's what I wouldn't mind having back, and there's a certain knowledge that different body than the one I have now would accompany it, but it's the doing I want to have back, not the body.

People keep telling me what my breasts will look like after this is all over. My stomach. My whatever. And I just think, I don't care. I don't care how my body will look because it will look that way because of what I got to do: have a child. It's a story that not every woman will be able to tell with her body. I know that it's a story my own partner would love to tell with her body, and I wish I could give that to her. (I'll give it to her the only way I know how, but sharing my body and experience with her, to have the baby that came from her eggs.)

So I say if you have droopy breasts because you breastfed your babies, rejoice in the droop when you look at your children running around. You fed those kids from your body-- Your beautiful breasts attest to that. If you're stomach looks like cottage cheese from being pregnant, go look at your sleeping child-- It came out of you. Even if you look this and never had a child, think of your life, who you are, what your body has done for you. It's carried you places, it's given you a story to tell. If your feet are calloused and you hate those callouses, why not think about all the places those feet have taken you? I know not every scar, or droop, or fat cell has a happy story to accompany it, but think of the ones that do, and I think you'll be alright.

Perfection is boring. It's the scars, lumps, and bumps that tell the true story. The one you want to hear.

20 Comments:

Anonymous Round is Funny said...

Beautiful.

1:56 PM  
Blogger WordsRock said...

The first time I caught sight of the stretch marks forming on my stomach while I was pregnant, I broke down and cried for an hour. I didn't realize at that point my breasts would never again be the perky wonders they once had been.

You are right. It is all worth it.
Nice post.

5:44 PM  
Anonymous Manuela said...

Yes, yes, yes!!!!

As someone whose stomache looks like a road map due to multiple surgeries... I say BAH! Who CARES! Hell... I even BELLY dance in public, for MONEY, and NOBODY has ever said anything negative.

I have to send you a link to this awesome website someone sent me, it's a photo gallery of women's breasts and stomaches both during and after pregnancy with really great stories to go with them. It's an AWESOME site and addresses exactly what you are talking about here!

7:48 PM  
Blogger mermaidgrrrl said...

I laugh when I think about my body being "ruined", because how can it be ruined when it's doing the thing that it's meant to do? We are designed to grow babies, not ponce around in bikinis our whole lives looking like teenage boys for goddesses sake.

8:20 PM  
Blogger NMsurrogate said...

YES!!! I tell people that I love my belly pooch because it was my son's first home. I love this post. I would love to print it and share it with people at work. Would that be okay?
You rock.
-Erika

10:43 PM  
Anonymous Jenn said...

I agree 100% though I was still not quite prepared for what my belly looks like now. But who cares? There is a site, http://shapeofamother.blogspot.com/ that is all about what you just said.

8:08 AM  
Blogger Career Guy said...

I liked the part about how scars show how our bodies have healed. I have a terrific one running down my sternum and another nice curving one under my right, uh, breast, not to mention the nifty round fifty cent piece sticking out of my upper left chest (pacemaker). I love to go swimming and show off.

9:49 AM  
Anonymous Erin said...

(Sorry for this novel!) That was beautifully written, and very much how I feel about my body. It's a mess. Surgery at age 12 left me with a c-section-like scar across my lower abdomen. A fall on a toy piano at age 2 left me with a crescent-shaped scar next to my left eye. My breasts are a saggy 32D instead of the perky 34C that they were before I nursed P for 18 months. My stomach is absolutely covered in stretch marks. I caught looks of disgust at them when I was in the locker room, getting changed to go swim while I was 8 months pregnant. And rather than feeling sad and turning to hide my belly, my thought was, "I can feel my child kicking me right now--what the hell do I care about stretch marks?" I've never felt disgust at them, nor has J. I complained about how itchy they were once (not their appearance, but the itch drove me mad at times) and he said that it was just more proof that we were getting to have a baby.

I might have an occasional wistful thought about the body I had at 20, but I got to have a child. Nothing, especially not the appearance of my body, could ever be worth giving up that experience.

10:35 AM  
Blogger lagiulia said...

Agreed. And that's coming from someone with a few surgeries' worth of scars and "twin skin." I must say, however, that I have enjoyed the bigger boobs for the past 10 months of nursing and will miss them. Always wanted 'em, never had 'em, you know?
Hope you're feeling well!

11:37 AM  
Anonymous pixi said...

I needed to read this post! Especially now. Thanks, Katie.

3:03 PM  
Blogger Master Enigma said...

I think you have great skills in sharing your stories with others. Well done.

5:05 PM  
Blogger frog said...

What a great post. :)

12:18 AM  
Blogger Anna said...

What a lovely post! I love my c-section scar: we call it the "Ben exit". It's vivible proof that he came from my body, because sometimes it's hard to belive I was even pregnant. Aside from the stretchy skin and michelin man physique ; )

3:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wonderful! i laughed, i cried... i always tell people my body went from "playboy" to "national geographic" in 9 months! melanie

5:43 PM  
Blogger The Town Criers said...

You said it so well. Three cheers for actually loving our bodies for a change and the stories it tells.

10:26 PM  
Blogger Momai said...

I'm right there with you on the body thing, and on the rugby thing! I was still one of those total rookies you described when I broke my ankle in a scrimmage. I was bummed when they I didn't need surgery, they just decided to make it imobile for 80 days. Not nearly so cool as a scar. Hey, at least I got myself a "rugby injury" before I retired to have a family.

I really miss rugby, but decided that having kids is more my body's speed. Not to mention that I lost too much weight and ankle strength while recovering to make a decent prop, and I'm not a fast runner. Ah, well. Have you ever visited www.tacklegirls.com? That's the web site I created while I was healing. :)

Before I got pregnant, I thought, "Hey, no sweat, after rugby this will be easy!" Then I got pregnant, and discovered that I would not be permitted to lift anything over 25 lbs. Now THAT is a challenge! I'm so used to being able to do anything tough, that asking for help with simple stuff like that just drives me nuts.

8:06 AM  
Blogger Nico said...

Very well said! Although I must admit that even though my head firmly believes this to be true, emotionally I still struggle with it a bit. I never thought I had body image issues, but dealing with losing weight, gaining weight and the fertility repercussions thereof over the past two years has really shown me that I do. Damn "thin is in" society!

11:39 AM  
Blogger Patti said...

Amen.

3:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I always felt so bad about being a little overweight, but since I had my son, it's the least of my worries. I'm probably about 25lbs overweight, but he was worth every pound and stretchmark. Knowing he came from me makes me appreciate my body.

4:41 PM  
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