Uterus, it’s time you and I had a talk. Just you and me.
The day of reckoning is coming. Will I decide to put you out of our collective misery, or will I stick it out with you?
I get through most of my days without cognizance of you, but on some days, when you’ve felt ignored for too long, I remember you are there, just loafing around in my torso. Not doing much of anything.
On those days, the angry, hot, tingling of scar tissue betrays your presence. The dull ache, feeling somewhere between constipation and something more sinister, aids my anxious inner-hypochondriac and feeds the fountain of worry that it’s not merely your presence I’m feeling, but some uninvited guest. This not-quite-normal feeling is also a reminder of our last big tussle, the one where I needed to be ripped open for a pseudo-C-section. Your gift to me was the mother of bad gifts, an 11 centimeter mass of cells. I affectionately named your present ‘Harry’ in an attempt to self-deprecate through the inconvenient and painful experience.
I had known something was not quite right with you, as you sucked the life out of me for months. I had to deal with your pain as I attempted to raise my voice many times over, trying to make my voice loud and annoying enough for a medical professional to hear me and finally look under the hood.
I don’t resent you for my decision to go the more invasive route. My thirty-two-year-old self wanted to retain my fertility for some unknown date in the future. I opted to keep the metaphorical door open, in case the mothering instinct kicked in, or an accident happened, compelling me to walk over the threshold and say yes to you growing a new life. I don’t regret that decision, even though taking this care with your ability to carry children, in the end, was an exercise in futility. The ache for motherhood never appeared. No accidents happened. I was never forced to make a trajectory-changing decision.
Having been through that experience with you once before, my recent feeling that something, again, was not quite right with you was not, as I had hoped, phantom pain. It was real. Just as before. Confirmation provided through the indignity of an internal ultrasound. Amidst the old scar tissue was another fibroid, this time only 3 centimeters around, but it was plain to see why my inner voice had been correct. Feeling at once, grateful, relieved, and weary, I’m happy to have listened to my voice and that I have my answer. Thankful that you are not riddled with the c-word. Relieved that I’m not crazy, that something is there. Weary that I know this road. Whether or not I opt to have doctors remove this uninvited guest and stitch us both up again, it’s almost certain that I’ll have to bear your presence in worsening intervals until my body naturally decides it’s time for menopause.
It was after the ultrasound that the doctor said the words elective hysterectomy. The part of me that still feels twenty bristled with the idea of electing to sterilize myself right now, in what feels like the golden age of my life. The benefits, as described by my doctor, for getting rid of your swollen presence as you elbow your way slowly into my intestines and bladder, are many. Evicting you, my abdomen squatter, means less pain. Fibroids would be a distant memory, as would monthly periods. If I elected to do a three-fer and also obliterated your scary-ass egg-producing cousins, then I’d be removing a significant source of worry. I could play God and never have to worry about dying of the granddaddy of all cancers. Fewer headaches. A lot more peace of mind. Menopause would wash over me, of course, and I’d have to walk down the path of hormone replacement, but billions of women have walked this path in front of me and have lived (even thrived!) to tell the tale.
As I left the doctor full of relief, yet with a decision to make, I was oddly calm. There’s a light at the end of this tunnel, after all. Listening to the radio as I drove home, “Beloved” by Mumford & Sons came on. I’ve heard this song a few times, and the soulful lyrics always move me, whether I’d like them to or not. More than once while listening, I’ve stifled a sob, but it’s not unusual to find me happy, or sad, crying to music. Armed with all the information from my gynecologist, I was feeling relieved. I could wave a wand and be rid of you. All I had to do was say the word.
But, listening to the first part of the song, I burst into tears.
“And time, is not on our side
But I pretend that it’s alright
She says the Lord has a plan
But admits it’s pretty hard to understand”
(Mumford & Sons. “Beloved.” Delta. Glassnote Entertainment Group LLC, 2018.)
It hadn’t occurred to me that you would be something I’d mourn. The grief is not for you. You are a bloated, inflamed mass of cells, wreaking womanly havoc on my insides. My not having children was a perfectly sound and rational choice made by my twenty-and thirty-something selves. My future self could make the call when the desire hit. But my heart and gut never compelled me to motherhood. And, my rational decision won’t change even now, with a metaphorical gun pointed at my head.
The grief is around shutting the open door. It’s about saying goodbye to my fertility, however precarious it may be at the age of forty-four. The grief is for the child I’ll never bring into this world. The grief is around the passage of time, and all the decisions we make, not realizing that our one life is fleeting. I am no longer a young woman, with all the possibilities of what I’d become in front of me. Many opportunities remain, of that I’m sure. But, it’s time to mourn Kim, the mother. I thought I had more time to come to terms with this death of biological motherhood, but the moment I’ve long dreaded is here.