"You are gentle," the soft-spoken Korean nail tech said. We'd chatted earlier during a pedicure as she told me about her handmade greeting cards. As soon as I went to the dryer I began sorting through the intricate, bright cards with great care. "The others just pull them out. They are rough and damage them,'' she bemoaned. "I would never do that," I told her. I wouldn't even think of being quick and careless with her precious artwork.
Going to the nail salon was a treat for my 36th birthday. That morning as I readied myself for the day I paused to remove my bandages. As gently as I sorted though those colorful cards, I removed the bandages covering an incision on my waist. My surgeon said I could take them off weeks prior but I just wasn't ready. With birthdays come eager anticipation and a fresh start for the future. It seemed like the right time to take off the old and step into the new.
I'd never been 'under the knife' before. I was hoping for a minimally invasive laparoscopy to check for endometriosis and take out a fibroid. When I awoke my husband and mother informed me that a fibroid almost the size of my uterus was removed. In addition the doctor found polyps and the endometriosis I suspected was hiding there. Even in my utter exhaustion I was happy to finally have some answers. In over twenty years of doctor visits, ER trips and debililating cramps, I received little advice on my condition. It was the words of a compelling friend and sonographer that finally persuaded me to see a specialist. Endometriosis wasn't found during the initial ultrasound but the fibroids they discovered indicated a potential cause for my pain and infertility.
"Pray for me to get pregnant before Christmas!", I laughingly told my friend Ryan. I was two weeks into recovery and felt strong enough to venture off my couch to visit his church's worship night. It felt good to leave my home and soak in the presence of God. It was a sweet emotional salve after weeks of weariness and being distraught with the news of yet another mass shooting the day before. The room was crowded with people of different races and ages, a welcome sight in a time of increased national tension. We'd all come together to declare through praise that God is bigger than the darkness. I caught Ryan on my way out and he promised to pray. Hundreds have prayed for me throughout the past three years as I've tried to get pregnant. At times I've struggled with disbelief and bitterness over prophetic words that hadn't come to pass. Yet with the success of my surgery came hope that the season of celebrating Christ's birth could be a time to rejoice in a birth of my own.
I wasn't excited to turn 36. I rounded up and felt uncomfortably close to 40. Many of my friends have 2-3 kids already and I hadn't even started the journey. I begin the day intentionally practicing gratitude, yet I was pensive. The words of the surgeon during my post-op appt. came back to me, "I'm sorry but you can't try to have a baby now. You can't try before the end of the year. Your uterus needs time to heal." He wanted to put me on birth control but I politely refused. I told him I held personal convictions about it. It was the only 'solution' offered to me over the years and as a teen it brought little relief. I was frustrated that multiple doctors offered a 'quick-fix' instead of helping me get to the root of the issue. He understood and didn't ask questions. He was matter of fact as surgeons tend to be. His assisting student stayed with me after he left the room. She was a young black woman with a kind face. "You won't die. Don't worry about that. He's just letting you know if you did get pregnant before your uterus heals you could be in danger of rupturing your uterus which could possibly lead to death. You'll be okay. I can tell by your shirt that you believe." How ironic that I wore my 'Jesus is God' shirt to witness to someone, yet it was being used by a stranger to speak truth back to me.
"You're just at the beginning of your journey," my boss told me. "You have answers. You may have to wait a little longer to try, but when you do, there's a chance. There's hope now that you can get pregnant."
"Happy Birthday Christina!" My friends gathered around, eager to prayer over me and proclaim blessings for the year ahead. My husband arranged an intimate prayer meeting before a dinner with my close friends and family. I sat in a chair in the middle of our church's prayer room and listened attentively to the earnest petitions that went up to God. I closed my eyes, soaked in the love that filled the room and thanked my Heavenly Father. Thank you Papa for giving me the gift of life. 36 is going to be great.