I’m not always in love with my body. The past couple of years I’ve gotten squishier and sometimes my energy is low. I can’t always wear the clothes I want to wear or get the times I want when I’m racing. Sometimes I’m embarrassed when I see an unflattering picture of myself. And then I go on another
diet lifestyle. Let’s call it a new healthy lifestyle. It just looks like a diet to human person with working eyes and a brain.
My passion is helping people find the good in themselves and in others. But sometimes it’s hard to find what I like about my body when there are so many things I wish I could change. Then I feel bad that I can’t just let go and love myself more. Because I’m Drops of Awesome lady. It’s not always easy in practice. Most things aren’t.
The Friday before Fourth of July I started having some pain and bleeding. The timing wasn’t right but I figured it must just be lady problems. I took Ibuprofen and I muscled through. My parents were in town and there was fun to be had. They left on Sunday and on Monday, the fourth. The pain got worse.
We got situated at the parade and I was really uncomfortable so Dan made a run to the grocery store for some painkillers while I soaked up the small town eye-candy. We had a good day. I threatened to call a doctor if things didn’t get better. The pain came and went for the next couple of days.
But Wednesday morning as I was rinsing Wanda off after her swimming lesson, I knew things weren’t alright. I hobbled out to the car and called my OB for an appointment and miraculously they fit me in that afternoon. I cried all the way home, dropped the kids off, and then cried all the way to the doctor’s office.
I called Dan from the car just to talk me through it. I’d never experienced pain like that and I was so terrified they’d tell me it was normal and to get over it. I had packed my phone charger because if they told me it was nothing, I was planning to head to urgent care until someone found a way to make it stop. I was in this for the long haul.
At the doctor’s office they did the obligatory poking and prodding and I couldn’t hold back the sobbing, but everything looked normal. My IUD was still in place. There was some minor swelling on one side of my abdomen but they couldn’t see an obvious problem.
Then it occurred to me. My back had gone out two weeks earlier. My back rarely goes out. My back always goes out when I get pregnant.
“I’m sure it’s not that,” I said, “But what if it’s that?”
They brought a test. They usually bring a test when I have an appointment at this doctor. I pee on it. They look at it for two minutes while we make small talk and then they see it’s negative and toss it in the trash.
This time the small talk lasted longer. And then the nurse said, “I’m just gonna take this to the lab.”
I waited alone in the room. My phone was dead. I thought about charging it so I could call Dan. The Nurse Practitioner came back in and told me we needed to do an ultrasound because I was indeed pregnant but my pain level made it probable that it was a tubal pregnancy.
More poking and prodding. The ultrasound technician found a bulge in one of my tubes and a lot of bleeding. They told me I wasn’t going anywhere for a while because I needed surgery.
At this point I asked someone to plug in my phone so I could call Dan. And Laylee who was home babysitting. And a couple of friends who would have my back. And I cried and cried.
And I couldn’t tell you exactly why.
I wasn’t sad about losing the baby, not really. We hadn’t even been trying to get pregnant. I probably wasn’t REALLY sad that from now on I’d have to write a more complicated medical history on every form I filled out forever. Although that thought did cross my mind. I wasn’t even crying because the pain was still unbearable.
I was just sad. And I was alone.
They wheeled me across the street to the hospital, which was sort of excruciating, every bump like a gut punch, and prepped me and within a couple of hours I was signing a form saying I understood that they may have to take out a bunch of parts I felt fairly attached to. Dan was there when I signed the papers and when they wheeled me back.
And he was waiting for me when I was wheeled out of surgery. Everything went smoothly. But there had been more internal bleeding than expected and they’d had to go in three separate times with the laparoscope to clean everything up.
The good news was I’d kept all my parts. The bad news was I’d lost a scary amount blood and they’d never really found the source of the bleeding.
So I hung out in the hospital for a couple of days, eating bland food and drifting in and out of sleep as narcotics clouded my brain. Apparently, my sense of humor kicks up a notch when I’m under the influence because my nurse said, “You’re pretty funny for someone who tried to die yesterday.”
Friends visited me and watched my kids and Laylee cleaned my house from top to bottom as a surprise. We’re talking laundry, dishes, floors, everything. If sainthood were a thing granted to 13-year-old Mormon girls, she’d be on the list.
The second day they told me they would discharge me that night if my blood count was up and the pregnancy hormones were way down.
Well, the pregnancy hormones weren’t way down and my blood count was actually slightly down again but they said that was probably just because I’d been drinking so much water and they sent me home anyway.
Because they had me in the mother/baby ward, nurses asked me when I’d given birth or congratulated me on my new baby. It didn’t make me sad. We’d never been trying for a baby. It made me grateful I didn’t have to deal with that pain on top of the physical pain I was experiencing. I know women who have had an ectopic pregnancy with a much-wanted baby and my pain wasn’t the same as theirs.
But it was scary being wheeled out to my car to go home, wondering if I was still bleeding inside, knowing I couldn’t get around well or care for myself.
The house was clean and full of flowers from kind friends, friends who had lined up meals for my first few days home. I was on bed rest. Everything hurt and I was weak and dizzy.
But I also felt really grateful, grateful for good doctors and kind friends, grateful for my loving family, but mostly grateful for my amazing body.
It took me being weak and down and incapable of doing nearly anything to realize just how much my body can normally do.
My body is a miracle.
I can train for and complete a sprint triathlon or bike 20 miles on a whim. I can run up and down the stairs to read a book to my daughter. I can move laundry from one machine to the other and cook and clean and sit up long enough to eat dinner with my family. I can hike and tour museums and sit through three hours of church meetings every Sunday.
I can wear cute clothes, even pants with a waistband. I can style my hair and wear flattering makeup and shower without passing out or feeling dizzy.
I can plant a garden and carry groceries. I can serve others and hug and carry my children.
My body is a miracle.
I found myself standing in front of a mirror the second day I was home. I had gotten over my fear of quietly bleeding to death after Dan spent a million dollars buying a blood pressure cuff and pulse-ox monitor so I could obsessively monitor my own vitals. And now I was standing in the bathroom about to take a shower.
My three incisions were bruised and painful, my stomach was swollen, and I was un-showered and un-made-up. My skin was pale and my eye circles were dark. And I couldn’t get over how beautiful I was. With all the imperfections, road-weariness, wrinkles, and authentic battle damage, I was beautiful. And I knew I could heal.
My body is a miracle.
And so is yours.
When you’re looking at a less-than-flattering picture of yourself or your hand brushes past that little top of the muffin you wish you didn’t have, remember all the things your body can do, how capable, lovable, beautiful and miraculous you are.
Your flabby tummy is just noise.