I’m a writer so yes, I have a diary, journal, whatever you want to call it. I have no regrets. There is a lot to be gleaned from my kindergarten drawings and attempt at full sentences. Mainly that panda bears are the best out there, but still. Anyways, I found this so-called journal from last year written at this time when I was working today that I just stopped. I literally got engaged in the last entry, and the exact same pen used to write that entry was still holding that specific place in the journal when I opened it. It’s not that I didn’t journal after I got engaged, I just picked different journals to journal in and semi-forgot I had a beautiful metallic gold leather journal that still had more than half-empty pages in it!
So, when I was doing some “art therapy” on the floor of my home office today, I saw something that had been pushed behind my other books, and it was my gold metallic journal from last year. OMG. I obviously immediately stopped my art therapy for the day and went to go write an entry in this long-lost journal from last year. As I wrote about where I am today, it was quite interesting. Besides saying, “My year anniversary is in a couple of weeks, so you do the math on when I got married,” (The last journal entry was when I got engaged in May of last year LOL) I also was in complete shock of how my ramblings about where I was today versus where I was last year not only changed HUGELY on a personal level for me but also sounded a bit like a chapter out of a sci-fi novel. I’ve heard all of the jokes, I’ve seen all of the memes, but reading my own account of today versus today a year ago…OMG. Sci-fi to the end.
But I remembered something else I chose not to write about last year or wrote about in some other journal, and that was my first Mother’s Day following my hysterectomy. Stoic walls. Unable to move from my grandpa’s recliner (bought the second day after starting chemo and WORTH IT). Barely able to acknowledge my very soon-to-be fiance. A family hosting a Mother’s Day BBQ in the shared space right outside my window. Children’s laughter. Tears streaming down my face. Hand on the abdomen. Defeat. A feeling of “less than”. My family and friends thousands of miles away from my new digs in California.
And, I have to say, it does not feel much better during my second Mother’s Day since my hysterectomy. I didn’t want to have a hysterectomy so badly that I did a second six months of chemo, which was not recommended with my frailty. It didn’t work. My stage 4 endo still consumed my entire pelvic region, even interrupting my digestive track so I could not absorb any food. I was 110 pounds (I’m 5’8”), pale, wearing a wig with some fake roots and fake curls that someone said looked okay on me. Makeup-less. I can remember every flower on the white floral dress I wore with maroon leather boots that matched one of the flowers. On the fifth round, defeated, bruised, skin hanging off of a skeleton, my doctor looked at me with this crystal blue eyes that seemed so honest, his awards hanging on the wall, and basically said that I would not survive if I didn’t get the hysterectomy. So I wouldn’t have a child either way. I still saw it as a child, or me, decision…and always, always wanted the child to win.
I mean, I had been picturing this child since college. A boy named Jack (for many reasons I don’t have time to get into here). It was always going to be a boy named Jack. So as the doctor pleaded with me, telling me that I needed to do this, a tear fell and made the color change of my white dress in that small spot. I knew. I knew Jack was gone.
Perhaps what made it gruelingly worse, is that my hysterectomy was a week before Christmas, a time that was(is) so important to me. A time that represented rebirth. I would literally go to the 7 PM service at church, and then write my wishes for the next year after that service in my journal, and then go to the midnight service and imagine Christ being born right at midnight among all of the candlelight. But this Christmas, after a hard year of chemo, was to be spent, literally, in the hospital. I had complications with my hysterectomy and the physicians released me on Christmas Eve to be nice, because I told them I had never missed a Christmas Eve service, but then had emergency complications and had to go right back into the hospital and spend Christmas Eve night in the hospital and most of Christmas Day.
I am a successful young professional. I’ve worked my ass off and waited until later in life to think about children (28-30) but to have a hysterectomy at 30 almost killed me. God’s humor is that I met my now-husband three weeks after my hysterectomy. Like, what?! Ha. He’s nearly two decades older than me and is open to adoption, but it still isn’t the same for me.
I moved to a new therapist this year, who I love. Every single person should be in therapy, especially since this whole pandemic. I was super judgmental of entering therapy and it has helped me immensely. One thing she noted upfront was that my hysterectomy must be impacting some things on some level. And I always brush her off. Like– yea right. Have you seen the news? Way more is going on than something that happened just a little over a year ago.
But, today, as my husband went on with his day and my mother graciously texted me a thank you for her gift (a pepper garden to plan because she is “spicy” haha!) and we have a #DeadToMe date later on Netflix, I fell to my knees in my home office. I started doing collages and artwork that I thought would help me figure out why I feel like such a tool today. And then I knew why I did. I brushed Jack off, just like I did with my therapist so many times before. I wasn’t going to be sad this Mother’s Day, because there is so much to be happy for! I mean, I seriously have the best mama out there.
But not being able to have biological children, not being able to do the one thing your faith/society expects you to do, that’s BIG. And it’s bigger than some Hallmark holiday and bigger than others’ opinions and bigger than our own self-degrading opinions of ourselves. I shit you not. I sat on this very teal velvet couch right before I started writing this post and thought, “Am I not good enough to have children?” And I could hear, feel my heartbreak.
I am devastated. I feel like a devil came in the middle of the night and tore out everything I wanted with his sharp claws. I get mad at myself for being jealous of biological mothers. I feel guilty. Did I spend too many years focused on my work? On the wrong guys? Can I really sit here tonight and say everything I did and experienced with my life until 30 was worth not having a child?
I don’t have those answers. I just know that those questions rear their ugly heads every holiday, but especially on Mother’s Day.
I was in a meeting last week and I said that my husband and I didn’t have children, and I felt so much for the people who did because it would be hard to explain this event to children and be in the house with them 24/7, especially with such huge amounts of energy! It was meant to be a kind compliment saying, I don’t have children, but I feel for those dealing so bravely with this right now. Instead, when it was another woman’s turn to speak, she said, “Well, I have children. And I just feel so bad for the woman who said she doesn’t have children, because children are miracles, and beautiful. We actually feel bad for couples going through the quarantine without children right now. They must be so bored and not even know what to do with themselves.” Like, what?? Being on the wonderfully zoomed-in Zoom, I tried to hide the tears that just instantly filled my eyes.
Not being able to have biological children is a big deal. And it’s NOT okay to say, “Well, at least you can adopt.” Or, my favorite, “Can’t you just try in vitro?” No, I can’t. The hormone therapy for them to harvest the eggs alone could kill me.
I need y’all to understand that I look up to mothers, honor them. I meant what I said in that meeting! You guys are truly incredible angels for having the ability to be at home 24/7 with your children and help them through this pandemic as you have your own anxieties. In an hour, I’ll be having my Mother’s Day date with my own mama, who I adore.
This post is just saying if you’re a woman out there who so badly craved(s) to be a mother as much as did(do), and you can’t–for whatever reason– haven’t found the right guy by now, barren, etc. I AM HERE. I am right here and feeling all of those ugly emotions with you right now.
And does it mean that I am not good enough to be a mother?? Or you’re not good enough to be a mother? HELL NO. It just means God (or whatever you believe in) needs you in other ways right now, and that might even be fostering or adopting a child.
No, no. We are not thrown away trash that is unable to conceive and unable to use our bodies for what most religions and societies believe we should use them for. We are strong, intelligent, kind women who have a unique mission to fulfill on this earth. We are not worthless. We are not wasteful. We are not dead as we hit early menopause.
We are humans. We are women. And we just have a different type of mission than most. And that’s okay. It’s awesome.
So if you are one of these women, hello. Here is my love letter to you. I hope you got something from it. I kinda need the same something from you tonight.
– Marji J. Sherman