I saw it in his eyes – a brief glimpse of deep sorrow – before he began dictating to his nurse the clamps and implants he’d need to fix the encephalocele atop my daughter’s head. It was the same deep sorrow I saw in the eyes of every person in the waiting room at the neurosurgeon’s office realized that Amelia Harks was, in fact, not me, but a tiny baby in a carseat, no bigger than my arm.

In that brief moment, the neurosurgeon became human, not some arrogant doctor, about to saw into my daughter’s tiny head.

Now that tiny baby, no bigger than my arm, is a toddler with an attitude so reminiscent of my own that it’s hard for me to remember that they are one and the same.

As she grows, the scar does too. What once looked relatively small now encompasses much of head. Her curls, always in a halo, cover it, so I don’t receive the same sorrowful looks I once did. For that, I am grateful. For if I did, if I had to explain those turbulent first years of her life, I don’t know if I could stop the sobs.

People, well-meaning people, tell me the scar is “barely noticeable” that they can “hardly see it,” and I always thank them on her behalf. Inwardly, however, I wonder if they know how that hurts.

It would not matter to me if the scar somehow became invisible – although she might appreciate it some day – because it’s always there for me. The scar haunts me.

Most days, I am able to work through it, reminding myself that she, my warrior daughter, is here and that she is perfect – scars and all.

There are other days, though, that the limitless well of deep sorrow I once saw reflected in the neurosurgeon’s eyes, threatens to swallow me whole. The tears, hot and fast, course down my face and I am powerless.

I scoop that toddler, once a baby no bigger than my arm, up into my arms and I weep. Confused, she touches my tears with her tiny finger and asks, “Mama sad?”

“Yes, Baby,” I choke out. “Mama’s sad.”

And the three of them – flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood – climb atop me to squeeze the Sads out. It’s only then, with the pressure of three squirmy bodies on my chest, all elbows and knees now, that I finally feel whole again.

And I wonder, as they scamper down, screaming and chasing each other about the house, my tears drying to a hard crust on my face, the well of sorrow closing for the moment, how I got to be so lucky.


49 thoughts on “Scar Tissue

  1. While it made not have made me laugh, it certainly made me smile to look at the faces of your kids and to know that when I get home from work I will give my kidlets a huge hug, grateful that they are who they are.

  2. I’m already in my weepy place today, so I shall join you.

    Those little bodies are the best at squeezing the sads out, aren’t they? And your beautiful girl IS your warrior daughter. She’s tough, just like her mama.

  3. I love that in almost every picture you post, Amelia looks like she’s about to kick some serious ass! I have a little female dictator in the making myself. I’m so glad yours is here today so she can take over the world tomorrow!

  4. I have never had to deal with a serious condition with my 3 year old daughter – and I hope I never have to in her future – but even still, I often weep with amazement, wonder and an overwhelming feeling of love to have this amazing person in my life. She’s only 3 and my life is forever changed in such a wonderful way.

    As mothers, we are all lucky. You are especially blessed that your warrior daughter is just that… a warrior. This may sound creepy and weird, but I love that you need your kids to feel whole, I love that you recognize your luck and through the haunting of something I can’t even fathom having to endure… your kids make it all okay.

    Thank you for sharing your love. I’m totally feelin it.

  5. Oh she is adorable. I have a huge scar on my stomach from an apendectomy as a kid and I don’t even realize I have it. Noone cares about it, even though its huge. Some people mistake the top of it for my second belly button. That’s because im a little chubby and fat hangs around it… okay i just got a little gross!

  6. I am trying to find words right now, as little Arabella kicks away in my belly and I fret over if she has a neural defect. I remember crying when Amelia was first born, fretting over her developmental tests, and celebrating her kicking ass all the time with you. There are scars, physical and mental, but they are also badges of honor and proof that she has her momma’s fight in her. Love you Becky.

  7. We all have scars whether outside or inside, our own or our kids that haunt us. The good thing is that eventually, they won’t hurt as badly. Take those pile on hugs that squish away the sadness and revel in them. Your children are beautiful. And with a mom like you, of course they are warriors. (insert Xena warrior cry here)

  8. Ohmygah. Long time lurker, first time writer–though I believe we’re tweet buddies–and just had to say… I’m going through some crazy life-changing stuff over here, but its nothing compared to this. A does of relativity that makes my heart ache and tears roll down my face almost instantly is, honestly, more helpful and healing than you know. Thank you for sharing your love and your story. We FEEL you. We HEAR you. We THANK YOU!

  9. Well crap. I just sat down here to AVOID my kids and now I need to go hug them. Hold on…. My oldest was jumping on my bed and brought a huge 24×36 down on her three year old head. It sliced up her skull in two places and put a tiny nick in her finger. I will never, ever forget her standing on the top of the stairs with blood running down her face. She was so scared because she THOUGHT I WOULD BE MAD about her breaking the glass. To this day, she doesn’t remember anything about that night except for the ouchie on her finger and the stitches she got to show everyone. Big, big hugs to you.

  10. I’m telling you Warrior Princess MiMi and Warrior Princess Penelope are going to take over the world! They will be kicking ass and taking names! 😉

  11. Oh sweetie… this totally made me cry, but it was so beautiful. You’re children are beautiful. I am so happy everything worked out for you and your beautiful Amelia.

  12. Those beautiful children are lucky to have you too – fighting for them every step of the way. Go you!

  13. Your words brought me sadness, the kind only a Mother who wants the world to be easy for her child feels. And then your children’s beautiful faces brought me joy, the kind a mother feels.

  14. You are totally entitled to your scary moment flashbacks! I don’t think there’s a mother on earth who hasn’t been through what you have and doesn’t still see the bogeyman in the corner. But you know what? You BEAT HIS BROKE DOWN ASS and you are all well and better for it all.

    I hope the swells of joy your feel are as high as the lows of pain you have endured.

  15. Today @ work we said goodbye to a colleague who was being forced out, as we cried & hugged her goodbye the meanest girl I have in my class looked @ me & my friend & came over & hugged us both over & over, taking my hand in hers. They do know don’t they? As to being grateful, my niece was born very early, March of Dimes early,brain bleeds early, beanie baby sized early(her daddy’s wedding band fit her thigh). Today she is a SASSY smart 8 year old ready for 3rd grade w/ no ill effects. Life can be so good!

  16. This post really connected for me- not that I have experienced anything like this. But, I think, from one mama to another, we have the capacity to really understand the pain involved in seeing our children hurt. It’s like no other feeling in the world- it truly encompasses your heart in actual pain.
    Your children are absolutely precious.

  17. She is a warrior girl! I know a bit of how you felt. I can go back to when our daughter was 7 days old and a 4 week premie baby in the hospital. We knew before she was born that she would need surgery on her right lung, but at 7 days old it happened. Friday the 13th at 13:30 hours. She came back to the NICU with a chest tube sticking out of her side and on morphine for the pain. Three days later we took her home grateful and scared to be first time parents after what we went through. Funny thing is sometimes when I bath the twins, I’m surprised not to see a scar on their side of their back. That was what I was used to seeing on my child, I forgot to realize when I had more children that would only be our experience with her.

  18. Your posts about your beautiful children always make me weep! My 11 year old had a rough start, but made it through all his difficulties like a champ. My heart doesn’t have enough room for all of the love I have for him, so I cry… a lot… just because he is so perfectly fine, scars and all. Recently my stepson came to visit, I first met him when he was 5. He sat on my lap and showed me how he could print his name. Now he’s 30, 6’3″, an army veteran and a real grown-up person, working and taking care of himself. After he hugged me goodbye and left, I couldn’t stop crying and hugging my 11 year old boy. He was so confused as to why I was ‘sad’… time just goes too quickly, the trauma of his premature birth and his health issues are as fresh in my mind as if they happened yesterday, I look at his scars and remember the agonizing worry and I am so thankful he doesn’t remember being anything but perfectly healthy and normal. He tells me not to cry about all of that because he’s fine now. So I read Aunt Becky’s blogs — because she understands… that’s why I love you so hard!

  19. Hi Becky, your babies are beautiful!! Love to hear stories about kidlets with pure hearts, thank you for this today. I’m sorry that it hurts.


  20. Becky, I never know whether you are going to make me laugh or tear up but I know when I head over here that whatever I read is going to be amazing. Your children are gorgeous and I am glad you are lucky.

  21. Not so long ago, Aunt Becky, I read the whole story about the birth of your daughter, and it absolutely murdered me. I had a turbulent birth with my second child (he was breech, so my doctor turned him for me, because I didn’t want a c-section – then, when they broke my water, his cord prolapsed and panic ensued, because of course, they had to get him out NOW) which in no way compares to what you went through.

    But I remember how traumatized I felt, and how worried I was for him over his very common infant problems. When I read your story, I imagined those fears I had magnified even tenfold and it was too much to bear. Just thinking now about them taking your baby away from you and not giving you any answers fills me with an emotion I can’t properly describe without finding a German word that means two things at once.

    I wish I had been around when that happened. It could have put some of my stupid problems at the time into perspective for me, and I would have liked to have been there for you.

    Anyway, I’m getting about 8 billion times more gooshy than I ever like to get, so … don’t expect this again and don’t tell anybody I said gooshy things. I’m an asshole, got it?

  22. She’s really beautiful – all of your kids are. I hope they continue to give you comfort and the sads away, and only the hugs remain.

  23. I’m so sorry for your struggles. Your children are gorgeous. Clearly you all treasure every moment you have together. If only everyone could learn that invaluable lesson.

  24. Those are such beautiful babies and powerful words. What an incredible way to start the morning, reminded that when many of us are ready to give up, there’s a beautiful little girl out there who fights simply because she doesn’t know what it means to quit.

    You’re an incredibly smart and talented woman and as blessed as you are to have them, they are equally as blessed to have you!

  25. I am a relatively new reader, and had no idea you wrote anything but funny shit.
    This hit me hard and made me cry like a baby. You have an amazing writing talent.
    Now I have to catch up on older posts.
    Thank you for sharing your life with us!

  26. My daughter has a six inch scar on her belly that she got when they found a blood clot and half a dead intestine (they thought appendicitis). She had this emergency surgery just over 3 months ago and the scar is so noticeable when she raises her arms and the shirt pops up. We’ve taught her to show it with pride (which she often does to all the strangers of the world) and to tell people how she survived (she’s only 3). As she gets older we hope this same attitude will prevail, however the incision was well above the bikini line and as you know to the teens of the world appearance is everything. I only hope that both these girls realize the scars will always be there and they should be proud to show their survival badge!

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