We’ve been together for a lifetime and now it’s time to say goodbye.
I was not pleased when I found out the other day that I need to have a hysterectomy. Another body part bites the dust. I mean, come on! So far, my whole neuromuscular system has slowed down to a crawl, my eyes are giving me problems at night, and my teeth are definitely acting rotten. And one of my goals this year was to stay away from doctors for awhile.
It’s a hassle to have to deal with this. Now I have to spend a few days in the hospital and a number of weeks recovering. Not only that, but the surgery is scheduled for the day after Easter. This means that while everyone else is eating and drinking nice holiday food, I will be drinking “bowel prep” and entertaining myself for the rest of the evening. What a way to spend Easter?! The good news is that the reason I look a little larger around the middle, is NOT because I’ve been eating too many chocolate chip cookies!
I’m tempted to yell down at my body and ask if there are any other organs that are ready to stop working. Best get it all over with one surgery. Uh, wait a minute. I’m just kidding. Please body, don’t listen to me. I’m not feeling quite myself today. I really and truly don’t want any more of my parts to defect. They’re not exactly replaceable and most of them are pretty important.
In fact, I’m having a few odd feelings about saying goodbye to my uterus and ovaries. True, they never did work very well. If they had been kitchen appliances, I would have replaced them years ago. But they, like the other organs, are not replaceable, so I put up with all the challenges, especially as I wanted to have children. Now, however, my children are mostly grown and I don’t necessarily need a uterus anymore. I wasn’t given a choice this time. There are too many questionable things inside and around these organs that really don’t belong there. Better safe than sorry. When I told a few of my friends that I was going in for this surgery, the reaction was...interesting. One friend told me she was jealous. Another one said that she felt that all women should have hysterectomies just as soon as they are finished having babies. After that, she said, a uterus is more trouble than it’s worth.
I don’t know.
Maybe my whole female reproductive system never worked that well, but these organs did do their part. Without them, we wouldn’t have our three children. My uterus provided each of my children with their first home. It was a safe place, a warm sanctuary. As they grew larger and the room accommodations grew a bit crowded, it was my uterus that still held them and gave them their first embrace, before we were able to hold them ourselves. It was also their first bedroom, their first cradle, and their first exercise gym.
Each of my children developed their own exercise routine; however, they all included the use of my bladder as a mini trampoline. My first child decided that kickboxing was his preferred sport. He tended to go for my ribs. My second child liked to turn somersaults. This made me feel as if all my internal organs had decided to suddenly rearrange themselves. It wasn’t a pleasant feeling but it was fun to watch! My third child would just get excited whenever one of her brothers or her papa came into the room. Even before she was born, she learned to recognize their voices and she would become very animated whenever they were around. One way or another, all of my babies were very, very active!
Perhaps this was why my uterus eventually said, “Enough”, and sent each of my children into the world a little earlier than the one before. By the time our third child was on her way, I figured I’d be on pins and needles for the last two months. But that didn’t happen. We didn’t make it that far! She was born three months early. I can’t, however, simply blame my faulty system for that one. There are things that are beyond anyone’s control, and when I had an abruption with internal bleeding, which led to toxemia, it was time for my body to say, “This isn’t a safe place anymore. Time to develop quickly and get the hell out of here!” And somehow, it worked. I wasn’t in great shape, but my body did everything it could to protect our baby. And it did a good job! When our daughter was born at 28 weeks gestation, her lungs were developed just enough that she never required a respirator, a 1 in 10,000 chance at that gestational age.
One thing we learned very quickly with our tiny preemie baby is that, though the incubators are amazing, there is no good substitute for the mother’s womb. The best, most ideal place for a child to grow is in the uterus. Nothing else can really, adequately, take its place. In the incubator, everything has to be done consciously. The temperature has to be monitored carefully, getting adequate nutrition into the baby is NOT automatic and is, in fact, quite complicated, and in the incubator, the baby has to deal with gravity, something that you don’t have to worry about when you are floating in amniotic fluid. The whole reproductive system is pretty amazing, when you think about it! And that’s just looking at the woman’s part in all this.
It will be a bittersweet parting. I will not miss the challenges and discomfort of fibroid tumors and ovarian cysts. But I cannot go through this lightly, either. I cannot help feeling just a little sad. But, in the end, I need to have this done and so, it is with immense gratitude and respect that I will let go of that part of my body and my life that has given us the gift of our children.
Just make sure to save a few jelly beans for me.