I said goodbye to my uterus seven days ago.
I’m 36 – and at the age where most people are building their families, I no longer have a uterus, cervix or fallopian tubes. And for the first time in my life, I feel free.
The effect that this small – but significant – organ had on my family hit home when my eight-year-old daughter said to me, “I can’t wait for your uterus to be gone so that you won’t be a grumpy mummy anymore.”
I’d never seen it through her eyes before; I had been so concentrated on managing my pain.
You see, since I was 16 I’ve been ‘uterually challenged’.
Excruciating period pain; endometriosis, four laparoscopy surgeries; low-grade cancer cell changes, two procedures to remove them; fertility treatment, one miscarriage, one D&C (an operation to scrape away the womb lining), two pregnancies; post-birth complications; two bleeds, including one very unpleasant experience where my cervix was manually scraped out hours after giving birth.
My final destination was a little known but horrendous condition called adenomyosis, where endometriosis tunnels into your uterine wall. Unbeknown to me at the time, this is a common condition following endo, fertility treatment and pregnancy.
I held onto my uterus for much longer than I needed to. I’ve thought about kicking it out a few times. But there was always a ‘what if’ in my mind, particularly as my partner and I built up our bravery to try and conceive our second child. That alone took four years.
But now, our boy is three – and it was time.
I ask myself a few questions each day. The first, How do I feel about the hollow in my abdomen? At the hospital, I was quick to say 'no' to retaining the ‘tissue’. I feel a little numb. While my uterus held life, it also severely impacted mine for 20 years. I couldn’t wait to see the back of it and end our complicated relationship.
The other is ‘does it make me feel like less of a woman?’ This answer is slightly more complicated; a little bit yes, but in more ways no, because I was brave enough to say 'enough is enough' and decide based purely on improving my quality of life, not what society expects of me.
I’m 36, and I no longer have a uterus. I feel like the second act of my life is just beginning.