Finding Strength in the Scar







It is foolish to pretend that one is fully recovered from a disappointed passion. Such wounds always leave a scar.”

–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I’ve had quite a few surgeries – a benign tumor, the size of a tennis ball, removed from my neck and a cesarean section to deliver my daughter just to name a few among the many.  It is because of these surgeries that I now have scars on my body.  Some are more prominent and others not as much; some you can see and some are hidden beneath my clothing.  But they’re still there.

The scars always serve as a reminder of something that’s happened in my life.  They are a permanent souvenir of a brief moment in time.  In fact, I will always remember one morning of my eighth grade year because of a scar on my knee.  I was wearing my cheerleading uniform to school that day and had some time to kill before the bus arrived to pick us up.  I strapped on my roller blades and decided to do a few laps around the driveway.  My mom told me it wasn’t wise to be skating with my legs bare like that but, I did it anyway.  It was partially dark outside and I thought I saw something moving in the ditch coming after me.  I freaked out and tripped and came away with a very bloody knee, and later, the scar.

I think most people detest their scars.  Society teaches us that beautiful people have unmarred skin.  But I say, to heck with that!  The scars are a part of who I am.  They are reminders of where I have been, some good and some bad.  But they all make up me.

There are experiences in life that can scar us as well.  We’ve all heard the term “emotionally scarred”.  I think we’ve all experienced it.  I think some have more emotional scars than others, just as some have more physical scars than others.  Some of these scars are evident by the way people act; some are more private, just as if they were physical scars covered by clothing.  But they’re still there.

My C-section scar represents an event that is both physical and emotional.  After having so much medical intervention to conceive my daughter I wanted very much to deliver her naturally.  However, it appeared that it just wasn’t meant to be.  I pushed and pushed, and as the hours passed I could read the look in the doctor’s eyes.  He saw that I now had a fever, he saw that the baby’s heart rate was increasing, and he saw how tired I was from laboring all day and pushing for hours.  So, when he quietly suggested that he thought a C-section would be best for both me and the baby, I silently nodded.

My tears soon betrayed me.  I began to weep, slowly at first and then harder.  The epidural had worn off by now and I was blowing hard through the frequent contractions and the tears while my efforts seemed unnoticed by the medical staff who chatted away around me as I was wheeled into the OR and prepped for surgery.  The anesthesiologist gave me more medication and the pain of the contractions gradually decreased.  Chills shook my body and my teeth chattered as the tears continued.  My husband appeared beside me in white scrubs and I pleaded with him to pray for our daughter’s safe arrival.  I was so scared for her…and for me.

The doctor poked me with the scalpel and asked if I could feel it.  I said that I could, so they waited a few more minutes.  He asked again and I could still feel it, though not as much.  Again they waited for the medication to take effect, then finally were able to proceed.

Then I felt the pulling and the pressure and I panicked again.  “Ow, ow, ow!”  I cried.

The anesthesiologist asked, “Pressure or pain?”

“Pressure!” I said through clenched teeth as I blew hard breaths trying to manage the pain.

“You’re going to feel a little funny,” he said.

“Okay!” I replied quickly, and before I knew it things got foggy.  I couldn’t see anything and then, off in the distance, I heard a tiny cry followed by the time of birth announced.  “Twenty forty three!”

The healing of that incision took several weeks.  Any of you who’ve had a c-section can attest to the pain of coughing, laughing, standing up off the couch, or getting out of bed.  I think I healed more quickly than most because I pushed myself to get up and move.

It’s been seven months since that day and I still wish I could have had a natural birth.  I don’t know if I’ll be able to have one for our next child, God willing that we have another.  I’m still working through the grief of the loss of the natural birth experience, but each day it gets a little easier.  It’s because I can remember that no matter how she was delivered, I still have my baby.  She’s a true miracle.  I’ve also thought that I am lucky because I have not only stretch marks to prove I gave birth but I also have the scar to prove it.  That may sound a little funny but, I’m actually strangely proud of my scars.  They’re proof that I’ve experienced things and lived life.

Perhaps like the healing from the actual scar, my emotional scar will heal if I continue to push myself in good ways.  If I continue to find positive things about this I think I can heal.  The memories won’t go away, but I will heal.

I found a quote from Henry Rollins, who said, “Scar tissue is stronger than regular tissue. Realize the strength, move on.”

Thanks, I think I’ll do that, Henry.

QUESTION: What “scars” do you have?  How have they made you stronger?

CHALLENGE: Think of one “scar” you carry and come up with something you’re really grateful for about that scar.



Said this on 1-27-2010 At 09:27 pm

I love this article. I started writing a very similar one last week and then couldn’t find the time to finish it – all about scars and how they make us stronger and tell stories and point to lessons learned and sacrifices made. I was amazed to find your article and grateful to see that you expressed so beautifully the very things I was thinking of when I started my own article. Yeah! Now I don’t have to write it. You totally brought tears to my eyes. Thank you so much for writing this. I love the Henry Rollins quote.  Awesome.

Said this on 1-28-2010 At 01:56 pm
What a great article! I really take strength in that Henry Rollins’ quote–those experiences that were difficult before can be a source of strength for me now. Use (and even be grateful for!) the strength, even if the means of gaining that strength wasn’t ideal. Thanks, Laura. Just what I needed!

Said this on 2-15-2010 At 12:08 am

I really liked your article. I have found, in my life, a lot of simiarities to what you had experienced, and I wanted to reply.  My first was an emergency c-section, and was so not what I had planned , I had planned on having a natural birth, and was so excited about it. But like you, it just wasnt meant to be. TO be honest it took me a few years to really be ok with my loss of having a natural birth.  I tried and tried to have natural births with my other children, but large babies and multiple twin pregnancies prevented me.   At times I still wish that I couldhave had a natural birth, but my loss has really taught me a whole lot of HUGE lessons that Im REALLY grateful for.

Said this on 3-19-2010 At 08:34 pm

Don’t give up.  My first was an emergency c-section and then I had 3 more with natural childbirth.  My longest labor was 3 hours, so it could happen for you.

Michelle Port
Said this on 4-21-2010 At 07:57 pm

I’ve been getting quite a few new scars lately, and go in to get more tomorrow.  After 4 kids my varicose veins on both legs were painful and ugly so it was time to do something about it!  8 surgeries later I find I’m getting more worked up before each one… It doesn’t help that my Dr. thinks, “nothing that we do here hurts”.  Your right, we all have scars visibly or not.  When I go in tomorrow, I have something to keep my mind off what is going on.  I’ll be chanting, find strength in the scar!

Said this on 6-3-2010 At 09:00 pm

As a blind mom, I have scars on my shins and forehead from cupboards being left open, bumping into toys that were left around — typical childhood incidents that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Now, the kids are grown and the floors are empty – I miss their toys but love the beautiful children they have grown up to be and like to think they are tender and compassionate of others aware of the scars that mom had.  Beautiful article.


  1. Danielle says

    The best thing is that your daughter is here. I have friends who regret this or that about a birth of a child. But I think no matter how they come, all that matters is that they come. I think that is wonderful the article you have written and the thoughts shared.

  2. Mia says

    Absolutely agree with the comment by Danielle. It’s the Only thing that matters. Just having the choice of a c-section is something to be grateful for. In many many countries all over the world – lack of appropriate medical intervention means death for both mother and/or baby.

    In my case – I have 4 kids – and 3 c-sections…all emergency, first two after 24 ! hour labours. But – apart from the terrible recovery period (each of mine took upwards of 7 mths to heal and almost a year to really get 100% back to normal) – I am just happy that there are surgeons talented enough to do the procedure. That I live in a country that has this option (I live in Europe) – and most of all, that my children are here happy and safe.

    I do work with maternal health, and I know many women that want/wanted a “normal” birth – and some are still quite upset about it. Personally, I find this ridiculous and I have no time for it whatsoever. Just be glad another individual put themselves through medical school so they had the skills you required to bring you and your baby through birth safely. Be glad you didn’t die in childbirth because a c-section wasn’t an option. And, above all Be joyous and at peace knowing that your child is alive and well and gets to enjoy this wonderful world with her mother at her side.

  3. Jen says

    Thank you for sharing your feelings. My husband and I had difficulty conceiving, my placenta gave out around week 36 of the pregnancy (unknown to us until week 41), and then we had to do a cesarean because my daughter’s heart rate was dropping. Your feelings match mine so well … I just couldn’t express it the right way!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *