It was a little over a year ago when I heard the words “I’m sorry, but we cannot wait anymore. You have to have a hysterectomy as soon as possible”. This came after reviewing the results of my PET scan and ultrasound in an attempt to determine why I had constant pain. At 36 years old I was relatively young; too young to have the amount of health issues I was wading through. Many of my friends were, and still are, growing their families. They were dealing with dirty diapers, sleepless nights, warm cuddles, and a lifetime of love for another being; while I dealt with the knowledge that, once again, my body was betraying me, and my only defense was to remove the newest enemy – my ovaries.
I realized how blessed I was to have two beautiful daughters and a loving husband. I had thought my family was complete even before I had any problems. I had made the decision to have my tubes tied at the time of my youngests birth since I was having a c-section and had suffered with depression throughout my pregnancy. We were done having children, 2 was quite enough for us.
Even so, a part of me had always dreamed that, against the odds, we would be one of the few who got a miracle baby. I unknowingly held onto a glimmer of hope that we still would somehow receive the news that new life was growing inside of me.
The news that my ovaries were not only ruined but were beginning to cause me health issues came as no surprise. Due to my history of hormone positive breast cancer my doctors and I openly discussed the need for a hysterectomy but it was something that would occur “down the road”. When the time all too quickly came, it brought unexpected grief. To know that the door was closed, locked, and the key thrown away; that there would never again be even a chance that I could grow life in my womb again, brought with it sorrow I did not anticipate.
Never again will I get to experience the flutters of a baby’s kick. I will never again feel the twists and the turns, the hiccups and the movements. My breasts will never again be heavy with milk to nourish a newborn child. My belly will no longer be able to grow and hold a new life created by my husband and me.
I was sad that I never gave my husband the son I knew he wanted. He never said he wished we had a son instead of our two girls; but I know he longs to have the bond with our children that I have, the kind of bond that comes purely because you are the same gender. My heart hurt because my daughters would not get to experience growing up in a large family like I did – loud and messy, full of chaos and love.
While dealing with this grief I became that much more grateful for my 2 healthy, precious daughters. I thought of friends and family who have dealt with infertility and miscarriages and cannot begin to imagine the heartbreak they feel. If I mourn the loss of the finality of my fertility then how deep is the sorrow of those who don’t have a child to tuck in at night?
Every day I see my children grow taller, leaner, stronger, and more independent. They don’t need me like they did last year, last month, even last week. Baby and Toddler-hood is merely a memory now as my girls are in elementary and pre-school. They are discovering new things daily and have lives of their own that do not involve me. And they will continue to grow until I am no longer needed and my company becomes an option, rather than a necessity. Although I have many years left with them I could not, and at times still cannot, help but long for another chance, another child to bring into our family. Eighteen years seems so very short now that my children are no longer babes.
However I learned through my grief over what could not be that I can choose to be grateful for all I have instead of lamenting what I do not. I can choose to hold my girls as long as they will let me. I will choose to play with them when they ask and cuddle with them when they are tired. I should take that extra 5 minutes to tell them a bedtime story and get them a drink regardless of how tired or busy I may be. I have chosen to shower them with the love and attention that a new child would have received. And daily I now choose to thank God for my beautiful family that is indeed complete.