Guest Post: My glass ballerina: one year later

Editor’s note: In recognition of one year since surgery to correct my diastasis symphysis pubis, I asked a dear friend and my husband to write reflections for this space. This post was written by that friend, who has guest blogged for me before. Read her previous posts: August 2012 and September 2012.

My glass ballerina: one year later

I sent my friend an email peppered with questions on July 27, 2012.

At the time, she was a new mother, adjusting to life with her husband and their 6-month-old son, who inherited her soulful blue eyes. MIchaela had just seen a surgeon and was preparing for surgery to correct the diastasis symphysis pubis sustained during the natural birth of her son. In simple terms: She broke her pelvis, severely, during his delivery.

My email to her asked questions ranging from how long she would have to be in a wheelchair (8 weeks) to what her scar would look like (a c-section scar).

Near the bottom of the email, I wrote, “Just think: At our wedding, you will have all of this behind you, (your son) will be one and a HALF, and you will dance at my reception. I can’t wait. I love you.”

My wedding is just one week away. I was right about one thing: Michaela will dance at our wedding, and there is a good chance she and her husband will be chasing after their now-19-month-old toddler who loves books, baseball and playing outdoors.

I can’t wait to dance with her to “Funkytown,” watching her little boy bopping along with the music.

In the last year, my friend went from being in a wheelchair, almost completely dependent on others for her every need, to a YOGI! She is starting to run again. She has been on short hikes with her husband and son and they go for walks often now. If you have been reading her blog, you know my friend’s journey has not been the easy kind.

Looking back at that email I wrote more than a year ago, I wonder if I was misleading. I don’t think anyone could put this type of life event “behind.”

Ballerina broach My friend’s body will never be exactly the same. But she is as physically strong as ever. At my bridal shower in July, she was pushing ridiculously large carts piled high with dishes and towels from a church basement out to cars, doing every bit as much work as anyone else.

I was terrified. The last time I had seen my friend, at Whole Foods last spring, she was not yet able to lift her son in and out of his car seat without help. And now she was hauling my Crock Pot? I asked her to slow down, take it easy, but she was not a fan of that idea. She promised me, “I’m fine!” and kept pushing carts with a gusto any nun would envy. I could not have made it through that day without my friend. But I still couldn’t dismiss my fears that she was going to injure herself, to somehow rip apart the medical screws holding her pelvis together.

My friend has always been tiny, but for whatever reason, on the day of my shower, she looked like a glass ballerina. I was terrified she would break while lugging a waffle maker.

She did not.

Over time, I am becoming more and more confident in my friend’s physical recovery following surgery to correct her diastasis symphysis pubis. She is one tough cookie. She exercises. She does yoga. She is disciplined and dedicated.

Now, I worry more about her mental health. As I had written in that July 2012 email, I was convinced this all would be “behind her.” But will it ever be? And more importantly, should it be? I don’t think so. The more I consider it, the more I think it would be very unwise to erase such a life-changing event. It has made her who she is today. And, she is stronger in every possible way.

I worry about the guilt and shame my friend likely feels. I know questions still race through her mind, taunting her: What if I had a C-section instead of a vaginal birth? Will my son be somehow harmed because I had to stop breast feeding him after my surgery? Will my relationship with my husband suffer if I am not my “old self” again? Will I always be in pain when a thunderstorm rolls into the state? Will my son feel guilt one day when he learns how he “broke” me?

These are not questions that can be resolved easily. I know my friend is working diligently on erasing any guilt or shame she feels over her son’s birth. I also know that is not an easy task.

But, my friend is not the glass ballerina she appeared to be the day of that bridal shower. This is the same woman who went skydiving and studied in Australia when we were college students. She is one of the toughest people I know.

She does not feel sorry for herself or spend days moping. She is reaching out to other suffering mothers who separated their pelvises during childbirth. She is not alone.

My friend is a warrior. And, she is healing in every way. I am so proud — and inspired — by her journey.

I can’t wait to dance with her at my wedding in just seven days.

And, I don’t want her to erase any memories of the past 19 months. I want her to remember how strong she was through it all.

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