Last weekend, I stood on my parent’s front porch and took in the sight that was our front yard. Over the years, each plant had been placed with care and consideration by my parents and the garden was now in full bloom. I stood, taking it all in and realized that over the years, I had not allowed my memories of this space to grow like the plants had. Whenever I had thought of this house, I remembered it as being newly built, with a garden of seedlings just planted. I remembered myself from age fifteen and onward, navigating through the perilous years of teenage-hood to young adulthood, too busy to recognize the growth that had occurred. Now, I stood as an adult, recognizing that, like the plants, I too had grown through many seasons. Some were harsh and took with them parts of myself that were no longer necessary. Others provided me with time to develop the next phases of personhood that I would step into. All were necessary to provide the foundation for the storyline that I was about to begin writing: Letting Go In Order To Move Forward.
In 2011, I was diagnosed with infertility. More specifically, I had Diminished Ovarian Reserve and Premature Ovarian Failure. The diagnosis, while devastating, provided me with some of the most powerful catalysts for personal growth and helped me develop the skills I have today to work with health-related trauma. Many believe that if you are lucky enough to become a parent through the infertility journey, that your emotional pain will be reconciled. This was not my truth. For me, motherhood took me down one pathway that was about my relationship with my son, while infertility challenged me to deepen and shift the relationship I had with myself.
While the infertility journey doesn’t rule my day to day feelings anymore, I’ve certainly wondered: “Will I ever feel ok about my fertility? In many ways, I believed that through throwing myself head first into motherhood and then into my work, I’d be able to drown out the mental and physical pain that still lingered. Then I got a kidney infection.
I was on my way back from PMA and felt like something wasn’t quite right. Maybe I had the flu or maybe I had a UTI (I had only had one as a child and didn’t know if this was what it felt like.) I called my doctor, who sent me for some blood tests. Sure enough, I had a UTI and was to start antibiotics right away. I had a bad reaction to the antibiotics that landed me in urgent care, where I was told I now had a kidney infection and that needed to get an ultrasound to see if there were stones. I had the ultrasound. No stones – just fibroids. I was sent to an OBGYN, who suggested I see a surgeon to check them out. I had never had fibroids and knew that my uterus had underwent a great deal of stimulation through IUI and IVF procedures and so I was curious to see if this was something to be worried about.
I saw the surgeon. “Who told you you have fibroids?” he said. “The ultrasound tech.” I answered. “These are not fibroids.” he said. “I believe you have something called adenomyosis.” He proceeded to do a number of painful tests to check in on my pain levels, pain I had been living with, while I mothered and worked my days away. Pain that I had believed was my cross to bear for not being able to have children naturally. Pain I believed was where I would be stuck forever. “What did you think this pain was from?” he asked. “Menopause?” I croaked. I was told that after childbirth, I would most likely start the process of peri-menopause based on what I had been working with hormonally throughout fertility treatments. “Menopause doesn’t hurt.” he said. “Yeah – right!” I croaked more softly. As I looked at a list of the symptoms that accompanied this disease, I realized just what I had been ignoring. It was gut-wrenching to see my symptoms on paper, in black and white – they were real. I was in pain. I didn’t want to be in pain anymore. I don’t want to be in pain anymore. I sat up straight and asked: “What do we do about this?”
After being presented with options that were not guaranteed to fix my issue and may even cause more pain, we came to the topic of laparoscopic hysterectomy. I get to keep my ovaries, stave off menopause for a bit longer and remove the tissue that had been the cause of my pain.