There’s always been a special place in my heart for Christmas mornings. As children, we’d scurry downstairs in the wee hours to dump the loot out of our stockings and fill ’em back up before we woke our parents. It was the one thing we were allowed to do prior to waking them, and by loot I mean … gum, candy, and socks oh my! But we loved it.
My mom often reminds me of the Christmas we requested Cabbage Patch Dolls. That year was a thrifty one. Something so lofty was not in the family budget, so mom made them. She felt awful about that, but I don’t recall them ever seeming inferior. In fact, they were even more special to me. What I did know of a childhood Christmas, Santa delivers!
It’s funny what we deem as impoverished when it can actually be quite rich. I’ve been blessed over the years to have an interwoven tapestry of rich experiences through some pretty painful moments.
Over the years I’ve prayed for wisdom A. LOT.
I sort of thought it wasn’t working, even though we’re assured to receive it if only we ask. I think those prayers all started catching up to me (like maybe they were back logged in the request aisle and they came through all at once during the peak of the Holiday season). The delivery method wasn’t quite as expected. Let’s just say it wasn’t two-day shipping Amazon Prime style. When I finally received the package, it came mangled and torn (as though the package was misdelivered on multiple occasions). And honestly that’s how wisdom reared her ugly head; poorly packaged and misdelivered.
I suffered a miscarriage this year which sent me on a fervent Dr. Google search. I needed answers for questions that don’t have answers, but in this case the questions led to more questions, which led to many doctor appointments. Those appointments led to another possible pregnancy followed by a false alarm, which led to the pinnacle of a medically necessary hysterectomy. To say it’s been a bit of an emotional roller coaster is a huge understatement (and I haven’t even gotten to the part about kibbles and bits falling out).
I am going to take an incredibly uncomfortable leap here, knowing that some of you ladies haven’t struggled with any of these issues, while I bank on the ones who have or may in the future. Some of these topics aren’t very ‘Christmas morning,’ but I’ll bring that back around; you’ll just have to trust me.
I once heard it said, “poverty is anything that robs someone of their dignity.” I LOVE that statement because I think we often go around robbing one another unknowingly. Here’s my recent dignity robbing story:
On November 20th I should have been holding a brand new baby, but instead I couldn’t hold more than a gallon of milk. Ladies, I know the pain of child labor, and I am telling you nothing hurts quite like post hysterectomy gas pains, added to the pain of losing a child. I also needed to work through the struggle of losing my ‘baby maker,’ but fortunately I was nice and distracted because of kibbles and bits.
So… for those of you uninitiated, did you know you can literally lose your girl parts? They can fall out! On discussing this horrific awareness of what was happening to my body (level 3 pelvic organ prolapse, to include but not limited to the rectum, bladder, and vagina), my mom lovingly shared a warm bedtime story: A friend of a friend lost her lady parts. Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the … wait, what? But seriously, they … fell … out. Quite literally! She called the ER, and they recommended she put them back in and head to the hospital. You think?! And I am sorry, did you say put them back in?!
Here are the reasons I decided to share this painfully awkward part of my journey:
- It takes courage to be vulnerable, and there is great value in vulnerability. It leads to very real, authentic community.
- Sometimes life is really uncomfortable. The famous comedian Tom Papa communicates this so well in his stand up routine on the discomforts of being a human being. If we want wisdom, we better get ready for some serious discomfort because it comes at a cost.
- Body shaming comes in all shapes and sizes. I’ve always been physically fit and active. I used to love to run until these medical blessings initiated urine incontinence issues. I love cross-training (which may have had something to do with the prolapse, but it is possible and even more likely it’s from birthing children). I think there is a presumption if you’re in good health, things like this won’t happen to you. If you know someone with these struggles don’t minimize them or blame a lack of Kegels; there is a lot of genetics at play here, but also crazy things happen in life. Can we just commit to loving and supporting one another despite our insane experiences?
- In talking to just a small number of friends, many had some, if not all of these issues: uterine cysts, fibroids, endometriosis, adenomyosis, urine incontinence, pregnancy complications, miscarriages, early hysterectomy, some type of prolapse, etc. I wanted to bring up an issue that I think many women hide because the last thing we want to do (beyond uncomfortable vulnerability) is reveal weakness or shame that points directly back to us, albeit uninvited.
- Shame comes in many shapes and sizes, the more we talk about these things, the more we’ll realize we are not alone. Also, there are resources and doctors available that can improve your quality of life. I am one week post-op and already feel substantially better. I am no longer going to the restroom when I walk by one because God forbid I cough or sneeze and have the slightest amount of urine in my bladder. I no longer have to cringe at the onset of another horribly unnatural menstrual cycle.
So, for Christmas I got a hysterectomy and a pelvic floor lift (literally they lift those parts up and attach them to your spine. It’s actually pretty freaking amazing).
While in recovery, there’s just not a lot you can do outside of walking and resting. What was already a season of a much slower pace in life just shifted mine from a tortoise to a sloth. Y’all, I was once a Cheetah, dare I say just two years ago?
This is what the poorly packaged, misdelivered sloth life is teaching me:
When life forcefully slows you down, you see things clearer; you trust things deeper.
I can’t keep up with my children right now. When they turn a corner, I have to trust what’s around the bend won’t harm them in a world where harm is ever-present.
When I stop to rest (which I do much more often than I’d like), I truly see my kids, not in between Words with Friends and Facebook notifications. I stop. Take deep breaths and see them. And it takes my breath away.
As Christmas morning approaches this year, I am less concerned about what Santa will deliver and am more thankful for the moments. Ironically, I’ve finally received that gift of wisdom. This Christmas won’t meet my expectations; it will reach beyond my expectations to a gratitude that only comes from the misfortunes, the poorly packaged, and misdelivered on multiple occasions … because what I’ve deemed impoverished in life is actually quite rich, and I am blessed beyond measure.