Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Sometimes I Miss My Uterus. Period.
(Frida Kahlo Uterus Plushie compliments of Regretsy)
It still catches me off guard.
Suddenly, I find myself craving a cheeseburger smothered in chocolate. I start to miss people I never even liked. At the same time, I’m convinced I could teach a week-long seminar called “F-You! Recovery From People Pleasing.” Immersed in a strange blend of fierce and tender, maternal and homicidal feelings, I cry at soft rock and infomercials. I unbutton my jeans and wonder if it’s that time of the month. From 13 until 31, the seismic shift in my emotional landscape was signaled by a monthly red flag-- that arrived in my own underpants. But not anymore.
Four years ago, my period vanished with a bang. On Cinco de Mayo in 2007, I was T-boned at an intersection on the way home from getting a mani-pedi at a salon downtown. I don’t normally care about my nails, but I had just had my sixth miscarriage and a thoughtful friend felt like I needed a little extra TLC. At the time of the accident, there was still a baby inside me, scheduled to be removed, along with my uterus, at the end of the week. On the stretcher, I held onto the one positive thought I could conjure: “My cuticles looked great!” But everything else looked pretty grim. After getting my bangs and bruises bandaged up, I checked back into the same hospital, three days later, for a hysterectomy.
In most regards, I was more than ready to part ways with my uterus. For as long as I could remember I’d suffered terrible pain from fibroids. And six miscarriages was six too many. Because my uterus was sent to pathology the same week my family car was sold for parts at the city junkyard, I decided I would not be looking at minivans. That Mother’s Day, I chose the most adorable hunk of metal with wheels I could find in the tri-city area: a 2003 diesel Volkswagen New Beetle. And my son’s car seat fit perfectly in the back.
Slowly, over the last few years, I have come to terms with raising an only child. The grief I initially felt at not being able to give him a sibling has been replaced by acceptance, relief and even gratitude. I know now how fortunate we are to have one vibrant, beautiful, healthy boy. And honestly, I really don’t miss poop-filled diapers, sleepless nights or trying to get work done with another human being attached to my ankle. At six, my son is a full-fledged human being who is actually quite fun to hang out with. I am an extremely lucky mom. And I think that my shiny tomato red bug is as good a trade-in on my uterus as I am going to get.
But sometimes, to my surprise, I actually miss having a period. Without its regularity, my life often feels like one long run-on sentence. I don’t miss the monthly cocktail of ibuprofen and acetaminophen, the heating pads, the boiling hot Epsom salt baths that took the pain away as long as I was in them, but there are things I do. I miss the excuse and the explanation, the cycle, the rhythm, the idea of the blood in my body being connected to the moon, to the tides and to the women with whom I spend my time.
A few months ago, I took my son to the play area of the local mall. As I watched him jump repeatedly off the head of an enormous green turtle, I started to cry uncontrollably. And then it occurred to me. I texted a girlfriend. “Do you have your period?” I asked. “Because I’m crying at the mall.”
“Yes,” she texted back. “And I’m crying at home.” Immediately, I felt better. I felt connected to something bigger than myself, part of an invisible network of support accessible to me if I asked for it. I was still all me and all woman... with a little help from my friends.