And mine is actually quite unique. That’s right, folks, my uterus thinks it’s a freaking special snowflake and falls into the approximately 5% of women who are born with a Mullerian anomaly.
A week and a half ago I had symptoms of what I knew to probably be an ovarian cyst. I’ve had pain in that general region before (um, hello, a right of womanhood I suppose), but this felt off. I’ll spare you the details, but if you’re a woman reading this, or anyone who is fortunate enough to be close enough to a woman to hear her sad song about our plight, it’s painful and uncomfortable.
I went to a regular annual checkup, and unfortunately had to ask the doctor for an ultrasound. Even after an exam, going over my medical history (including infertility), and explaining my symptoms, she didn’t couldn’t explain my pain and discomfort and was going to let me leave the exam room 1) after putting my pants back on and 2) without an answer or trying to find me one. (I demand a refund!) However, she humored me and I was able to schedule an ultrasound for later that day.
During the ultrasound, I got the tech talking. Technically, the radiology techs aren’t supposed to say anything but after she told me she had 30 years of experience, I figured that if she accidentally divulged information, I could probably take it with a little more than a grain of salt.
She saw a cyst that had burst (confirmed by doctor’s findings) and towards the end of the exam she was able to see my special sneauxflayke™ uterus (also confirmed by an MD). To her surprise, and mine, a septate uterus was a new discovery because even though I’d had both an ultrasound and hysterosalpingogram before, neither procedure caught it on camera (this is actually unfortunately common).
The same day, my doctor called me with results, and this confirmed a hunch I’ve had for a long time now – this was the ‘something else’ possibly causing our infertility that had not yet been identified.
I know as an educated person, and as a person with common sense, that the few things we’ve had confirmed as possible causes (variococele [for him], hypothyroidism [for both of us], septate uterus [for me]) may not 100% be the cause, but are definitely factors.
Herein lies the rub – if we had known about these issues when we were still relatively new to the trying-to-conceive club, it could have affected the outcome and our decisions. Both surgical procedures for correcting a varicocele and septate uterus are fairly noninvasive and simple. However, last summer we decided to be done. Really done. Irrevocably done (as in snip snip), and so we are not pursuing any more treatment or testing.
This news has caused quite a stir in my spirit. Last week, I cried. This week, I cried. I’m still mourning, grieving, a life that I spent so long thinking and dreaming about. In the end, I get pissed off that I spent so long (30 years of my life…) just assuming I’d be a mother, not even thinking for a second that it wouldn’t be possible without some grief. But I just spent time assuming and appropriating all the cute belly pics, adorable maternity wear, Pinterest-inspired nurseries into my life, all the while having this vascularly-challenged wall of tissue in a small organ that has been there all along, sitting pretty, waiting for the right moment to reveal itself.
I know it’s not my fault, but I‘m still at odds with my body. I’ve known that since the beginning. But I’m still fighting – pushing, pulling, negotiating. This poor relationship is slowly improving through yoga, making better eating choices, and running (obvs!).
On a more existential scale, I’m kind of at odds with God. The Bible says that before He formed us in the womb, He knew us, and this is a truth I take to heart (Jeremiah 1; Psalm 139. But the big questions I’m grappling with right now are, 1) If he formed me, and did it knowingly and purposefully, then He knew all along about this and didn’t tell me?! 2) Why have I had the desire for my own biological children for so long? and of course, 3) What does this mean about my life’s purpose now? A big cozy comfort I cling to like a security blanket is that if He knew all this and ordained it, then there are other things He’s ordained for me to do, work to do that matters, no uterus required.
I’m still, and will be for time to come, at odds with society. I feel lied to, betrayed, and cheated. I may have said this before, but if I had known that having children didn’t have to be an option, I’m honestly not 100% sure we would have chosen to try. And that fact does not undermine my grief. If someone had told me that it’s okay to choose a career that’s not conducive to maternity leaves and a busy middle-class American family’s schedule, I’m not sure I would have chosen to become a teacher (known for its decent 8-4 schedule, summers off, and 4-year college track). And that fact doesn’t undermine my professional career or achievements, or love for my profession.
The problem is not that someone told me that I had to have children, or that I had to have a ‘family-friendly’ career – no one physically told me that. But society did. And I’m still pissy about it.
So, all in all, I can just hear my uterine cells in chorus, as they were forming, say, “Let’s build a wall [of tissue that has a hard time supporting new life] and make Elizabeth pay for it!”