From Period to Post Partum: How my Hysterectomy Changed Me
It was my choice. Mostly. Well, my body decided for me. When your uterus decides to double in size in one year for no apparent reason, it’s clearly time for an exit strategy. My strategy of choice, with my doctor’s approval and advice – hysterectomy.
Sure, it was a bittersweet choice. I was both elated and devastated at the same time. I mean, no more monthly visits from the red death, no more cramps, no more snatch your face off moods and no more frantic runs to Walgreen’s for emergency pregnancy tests? YES HONEY!
But also… no more frantic runs to Walgreen’s for emergency pregnancy tests.
You see, a year ago my husband and I were entertaining the idea of having a baby. We met with an obstetrician and a geneticist, because when you’re 40 and trying to do this, it’s not as easy as “Oops! He sneezed, and I got pregnant!” We had to plan this out – you know, make sure all the systems were functioning as they should be. It seemed like we were good to go until the geneticist hit us with the news that some of our inherited genes might not play well together, and a pregnancy could produce a medically fragile child. Being that we already have a child with special needs, we knew that that was more than we could handle. But we didn’t give up hope. We considered in vitro, which sadly also came with the cherry picking of embryos, but that didn’t feel right. We considered throwing caution to the wind and rolling the dice, but that felt too risky. So, in the end we accepted that a biological baby wasn’t in our cards.
Well, he accepted it.
I thought I accepted it.
I scheduled the hysterectomy and bragged to all of my girlfriends that I would no longer be joining them on the PMS train to hell. I gave away all of my feminine hygiene products and chuckled at the Tampax commercials, stating to no one in particular that I would now always be a girl on the go! And then one day the reality of what was about to happen to my body hit me. I was no longer going to be able to carry a baby. I would not be able to give my daughter a sibling, and I would not experience post-partum life without depression. Not even if I wanted to. Not even if I dared to.
Let me tell you, folks…that’s a razor-sharp pill to swallow.
The depression set in, though I hid it from most everyone I knew - except for my best friend. She would get text messages from me, in all caps, exclaiming that I was screaming mad at my television because I’d just seen a pampers commercial where a woman gave birth and the doctor placed the freshly born baby on her chest. Or a phone call from me, sobbing in the Target parking lot because I’d made the horrible mistake of walking past the baby clothes and saw a mom cooing over her newborn child. I was hurt. I was angry. And if I’m going to be 100% honest with you, months after my hysterectomy, I still am.
Yes, like approximately 20% of women in this country, I have miscarried. But this felt different. This felt much more out of my control - like an actual robbing and violation of my body. I have heard it said that you never forget the babies you lost, but I wonder if other women are like me and will never forget the baby that wasn’t there.
I can say with certainty that I will never miss my period. And I will never watch that Pampers commercial again. But with just as much certainty I can also say that I will forever miss what I never had, even if it was my choice to never have it.