‘Aww when are you due?’
It’s an innocent enough question from a stranger when I’m stood holding my stomach, but these words cut through me like a knife.
I’m not pregnant, I’m going through a medical menopause, which leaves with me a swollen tummy that looks like a pregnancy bump. In fact, I can’t have children at all.
In 2018, I elected to have a hysterectomy after over a decade of pain. My periods were erratic, I could have one every fortnight for two months and then not have another for three months. They were heavy and made me sick, but the ovulation was worse. It would leave me bed bound or crumpled on the floor in pain.
I’d tried every birth control imaginable, seen countless gynaecologists and been tested for everything – both PCOS and endometriosis tests came back clear, but something was certainly wrong. I was reaching my wits’ end, so made the difficult decision to lobby for a hysterectomy.
It wasn’t easy; I was patronised by doctors constantly as I was only 27, had no children of my own and I was single. I was actually asked by a medical professional: ‘But what if you meet a man who wants children?’
Imagine seeing a woman doubled over in pain, trying to keep it together and putting the needs of a fictional man above her.
Eventually I got a hysterectomy, they left my ovaries, which is common practice, so I’m going through a medical menopause to prepare my body for a possible removal.
Most people assume I already have children and are shocked when I tell them I don’t – why would I take away that amazing chance?
I’ve been judged by more religious and older people who don’t understand. My friend’s grandad, after he heard how much better I was doing after my operation, called me a silly girl who had ruined her life.
I know I shouldn’t let it, but other’s comments do get to me – the ones that tell me I’m missing out and I made an irrational decision.
The most upsetting is when people tell me how great a father my husband would be. It’s true, he’s amazing with kids; he’s a big one himself so loves playing silly games with our nieces and nephews.
We’d met when I was waiting for my operation and I told him everything on our very first date – I felt he had a right to know from the start. Although he was taken aback initially, he assured me he didn’t want children either, so my decision wouldn’t change anything.
He’s still adamant that he doesn’t want kids and despite him telling me that I’m enough, I constantly worry that one day I won’t be and he will change his mind.
Even though the operation is something I wanted, it has still left an emptiness inside me. I made the choice not to be able to have children, but the finality of it all was distressing.
I never wanted kids, but it’s not a case of just not wanting them – I now can’t have them. The pain I was in forced me to make a choice over my wellbeing or whether I could have kids in the future – and my health was more important.
It’s ridiculous, but even though I made this choice myself it still hurts so deeply that I’ll never be a mother biologically.
For a while, I found friends’ baby news deeply triggering and I just couldn’t be around people who were pregnant or new mothers.
Holding newborn babies made my heart ache. On the day of a friend’s baby’s christening I broke down in tears at what I would never have.
I felt guilty that I was being an awful friend but I had to protect myself. I worked through those feelings, it wasn’t worth my friendships.
I needed an outlet for my torn feelings and pain, so I did the only thing I’ve ever known: I wrote it out.
From waiting for my operation date, up till five minutes before it and then through recovery I wrote poetry to help me get through.
I began writing poetry big and small, emotive and sometimes just very sweary. All to get my feelings out, to try and make sense of what was happening when my hormones took over my body and just made me want to scream.
I self published my poems as a collection called Phoenix on kindle. It didn’t matter to me that it didn’t do very well, it was important to me.
I know that a lot of people won’t understand my reasons for taking away such an important thing, but my health was the priority. I just hope that anyone else going through unexplained pain as I did, or feel like they are struggling to be believed by doctors, realise they’re not alone. I know all too well what they’re going through and can only hope that one day they will be taken seriously.
My life has changed in so many ways since my operation: I’m happier and feel so much healthier.
I know the feelings and emotions I have about not being able to have children will always be there, but at times when I feel weak, I remind myself how lucky I am to have an incredible fur baby dachshund and wonderful husband.
I may not be able to have kids, but I know that I am enough.
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