Last night, I drove home from an appointment at the hospital in tears.
Really, there was no reason to be glum: I’m going to have an operation that will mean my horrifically heavy periods that seem to last an eternity will finally be gone. It’s something I’m thrilled about, as I have long suffered three weeks out of the month where my body is overtaken by Aunt Flo or her best friend, PMS. It’s no way to live.
However, the other result of this procedure is that I won’t be able to have children again — ever. Which is something I found quite emotional to process not because I want more kids — I am 42, a mom of two, and I am done — but because of the fact that I won’t have a choice anymore, even if I wanted them. It is a strange moment in a woman’s life to make such a call. Maybe it is the sudden realization of how old I am getting, or how my procreating years are behind me, but hearing it out loud made me profoundly sad.
Prior to my appointment last night, I talked the whole issue over with my husband (not that he is any way thrilled to discuss gynecological complaints).
I asked, “But what if something — heaven forbid — happened to our kids, wouldn’t we want another?”
“No other child would ever replace our son or daughter,” he said. “So why try?”
He had a point.
Plus, at my age, I am much less likely to conceive anyways. I know that having the operation is the best option for my health, so why am I so emotional about it all? Am I mourning my youth, my womanhood, my ability to conceive? Am I sad because something is suddenly so finite?
I feel as if decisions like this are things my mom would make, that I am far too young to be going through this. Yet in actuality, at my age both my mom and my aunt had hysterectomies. I should count my blessings that medicine has advanced enough so at least I don’t have to go through a traumatic operation like that and menopause all at once (my procedure won’t affect my hormones).
Deep down I think my reservations, however small, are simply because although I don’t want any more kids, I always like to think that I could have them. Once something is finite, you lose that choice.
This whole situation has also got me thinking about women who have to make decisions regarding the removal of their ovaries or any reproductive parts when they haven’t yet started their families. I can’t imagine how beyond devastating that must be. In an interview with NBC’s Today Show, Angelina Jolie discussed her new film By the Sea and her mother having to make the choice, saying:
“We can’t say what the whole film is about, but a lot of it was [reminiscent of] when I went to visit my mom in the hospital when she found out she had cancer the first time. She was gonna have her ovaries removed, [and] she was very upset, feeling like … they’re taking out her parts that were female, and there was a woman down the hall who was wailing. I later found out it was a young woman who had not had children yet, and that put everything into perspective.”
I am fortunate that I am not in that position. The rational side of my brain says that I need to remember that I am past my childbearing years; I have had my family and I feel complete in that. An operation to help my periods will only enhance my life, not hinder it. I don’t want to go the rest of my life spending a fortune on sanitary protection and prescriptions for tranexamic tablets, not to mention the discomfort and unpleasantness of having an eternal bleed.
So can someone please tell my heart that my head is making the right decision?More On