The hardest post to publish
“What is your worst fear?” A friend asked my teenaged self.
I thought of things that scared me: failing a class, crying in public, or swallowing spiders in my sleep.
“Not being able to have kids,” I answered.
Even as a teenager my perspective was broad. I feared not just what existed in my present, but also the possibilities for pain in the future.
I fixated on that fear. I truly feared it more than pretty much anything else. My desire to have kids someday was so strong, so consuming.
“How many kids do you want?” They would ask us. For some reason that question is appropriate when you’re getting married.
“I’d be heartbroken with any less than 3,” I’d answer.
“As many as we can afford,” my new husband would say.
And that fear would haunt me in the back of my mind.
When we decided to start our family, I had a consultation with an OB first. I was concerned because I had recently been diagnosed with endometriosis.
“Endometriosis has to be quite severe to effect fertility,” he assured me, “there weren’t any visible lesions in your ultrasound, so your fertility is unlikely to be affected. I bet you’ll be back here with a pregnancy very soon.”
He was right, I got pregnant right away. But it didn’t stick, and I lived out one of my other greatest fears. Two days after my missed period, I woke up and felt a disturbing emptiness. “Something left,” I told my husband. And I went to the bathroom and found I was bleeding. It was thick and tissuey and oh so painful. Which is saying a lot considering how painful my regular periods already were. It lasted longer than normal. And at the end there was no evidence that I had bourne life, besides what was held within my own heart.
Two months later I was pregnant again, and this time he stuck. But my body protested every step of the way, sick to the point of hospitalization. And then it seemed to fight labor, stretching the process out for 9 days of non progressive contractions before medical intervention finally pushed things forward. And then my body made it’s worst claim yet: that it was not built for delivering babies, and my child was cut out of the prison my womb had created.
It was at this point that I really felt for the first time that my womanhood betrayed me. From the endometrial lining that attacked my insides, to how poorly it handled pregnancy, to the bones that formed too narrowly in my pelvis, it seemed the very parts of me that were built for creating life didn’t like doing their job.
And yet, I was fertile. The thing I had feared and prepared myself for (just in case) was not an issue in the least. Instead I found that the thing I had desired most in the whole world came with a pain I was unaware existed.
I was so fertile in fact, that even when I wasn’t trying to have a baby, I got one. And with it I had a new worst fear: a repeat of my first child’s delivery. But instead of a repeat, my body decided to find a new way to reject its feminine duties: ejecting it’s inhabitant early.
Then came the bipolar diagnosis, with a treatment plan incompatible with breastfeeding or pregnancy.
Then the rheumatoid arthritis. An even greater obstacle to carrying children. And the nail in the coffin.
And just to stick it to me, as soon as I started experiencing the long hoped for relief from RA, my endometriosis made its epic return.
It’s as if that fist sized muscular organ inside of me is begging to be retired.
I am a fairly feminine woman. I have always felt connected to my womb –in tune with my body. And yet I feel betrayed by the parts of me that make me female. They gave me fertility, and for that I truly am grateful, please don’t misunderstand. I would experience all I have and more again and again for my precious children. But I also cannot help but sometimes feel that this fertility has been wasted on a body that rejects its female parts. On a body that’s for lack of a better term, broken.
So it’s now time for a new chapter in my life. Time for a new version of femininity –one that isn’t defined by child bearing. It’s time to embrace what was once my worst fear.
I’m 25, and soon I will be starting medically induced menopause.