Not having these body parts (uterus, ovaries, and cervix) doesn't make you less of a woman. Being unable to bear children doesn't make you less of a woman. I know how hard it is to feel and realize this because I went through all of these feelings when I had my hysterectomy. It seemed like everyone was pregnant or already had kids and I was in my own little world of never being able to have children. People would say that I could adopt. Although well meaning, I still needed to process all of my feelings to be able to deal with not being able to ever become pregnant. It was a loss and something I had to grieve and still grieve. We may overhear someone talking in a store about something to do with children that may make us upset. Know that it's okay to grieve this loss at any point in your life. Grieving is a necessary part of life and isn't a straight line and your feelings are valid. People don't know what to say when something like this happens and I had to keep that in mind, too. I didn't and still don't want people to tip toe around me having a hysterectomy. It was hard, really hard and when I look back to the year 2014 when I had my hysterectomy, it was the darkest part of my life as I went through all of my feelings. I'm thankful for my family and friends who helped me deal with these feelings.
Here are things that I have done/do to help me cope with my feelings:
Here is a journal entry from 2015:
"I had to make the decision to have a hysterectomy for my own health and safety, but that did not make it any easier to deal with. I knew my chances of having kids was slim before my surgery, but now I will never know if I could have had children since I never tried. I felt like I had to make a choice between having kids or going to pharmacy school and I chose pharmacy school, but still could not finish pharmacy school even though I could not have kids now."
Here is a journal entry from the end of 2015
"Having to choose to have a hysterectomy at the young age of 23 is depressing enough, but having to explain this every time I go to a new doctor is a horrible experience each time. I have had nurses tell me that I am too young to be going through this. I do not need this constant reminder that I will never be able to get pregnant and will be missing out on that experience."
I still have to remind nurses at my current doctor that I've had a hysterectomy when they ask when my last period was. Can't they read my chart and see I've had a hysterectomy without asking every time?
I always wanted to have children and it’s something that I still struggle with, but I keep in my mind that there’s another purpose for me and practice these coping mechanisms when I see that I need them.
Five years later, I'm in a better place than I was when I first had my hysterectomy. I know it's what my body needed (everyone is different). I go to baby showers. I'm there when children are born, and I babysit. I can still be happy for someone else and sad for me at the same time. Growing up, everyone always told me that I would make a great mom because of how I am with children. I have been around children all of my life because one of my grandmother's was a full time babysitter and I became an aunt at 8 years old. I get on the child's level and play with them. Even now people tell me that (they may not know that I can't have children) and I don't let it bother me because one day I may be able to adopt and be a mother.
Is there something you do to cope that I didn't mention? Leave a comment below and let us know.
I hope you find this information helpful. Know you are not alone. Sending you hugs and love.
Picture from mskcc.org
Samantha Bowick, MPH is the author of "Living with Endometriosis: The Complete Guide to Risk Factors, Symptoms, and Treatment Options" and "Living with Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency" as well as a fellow sufferer of multiple chronic illnesses and patient advocate.