It was a beautiful spring day when our battle over whether to pursue adoption or IVF (in vitro fertilization) was decided. It was not a decision that was made lightly as it weighed heavy on our thoughts for weeks. My husband and I had been trying to get pregnant for 2 1/2 years but had been unsuccessful even with fertility treatments. We tried cycles of both Clomid and Femera as well as 2 IUIs (intrauterine insemination). Month after month, we would be optimistic only to be let down.
Let me say upfront that we had both male and female infertility. Endometriosis does not necessarily mean an infertility sentence. In fact, statistics show that 80% of women with endo will not have any problems getting pregnant (source). So please don’t let my story scare you. After all, it is just my story.
We began to wrestle with the decision of what to do next after we were told that IVF would be our only hope of getting pregnant. IVF is expensive and there are no guarantees however I longed to experience pregnancy. Adoption was always a part of our plans so it was a welcomed option however we knew that it would be a long and hard road. In the end the decision came down to one factor – pain. My pain had come to the point of being unbearable. I went to work (although my work definitely suffered) and would come home and go straight to bed. I had had surgery at the Center for Endometriosis Care in Atlanta just a year before so why was it back so quickly and with such a vengeance?
It was on that spring day that I sat in my doctor’s office crying and mentioned the H word for the first time. I felt broken and wounded. I felt as though I was a warrior who was having to lay down her shield. For years, I preached that a hysterectomy was not a cure for endometriosis yet here I was talking to my doctor about one. We decided that it was time. I wanted a life outside of my pain. We scheduled it two months out so that I would have time to process and research.
I went home that night and signed onto my support group to give them an update on what had taken place that day. Still feeling like a failure, I let them know that I understood if they no longer wanted me to lead the group. After all, I was “copping out” and having a hysterectomy. Instead, I was surrounded by love, encouragement, and support which is exactly what I needed as I embarked on a new journey.
I spent the next two months researching all of the different options. I looked up statistics on endometriosis recurrence after a hysterectomy (some good stats can be found here). I searched the pros and cons of HRT. I compared abdominal versus vaginal versus laproscopic hysterectomies. I spoke to women who were in the same boat and facing (or recovering from) hysterectomies, some of whom were even my age. I kept my type A self busy with facts, stats, and research for the next two months.
The day came for pre-op. I convinced my husband that I would be ok to go by myself since it would be most paperwork and blood work. Little did I know what I was in for. In my mind I was prepared for my hysterectomy but on that day I would find out that it was not the case with my heart. I had already signed my name what seemed like 125983 times and it came down to the last piece of paper. It was a short paragraph. Right above the signature line was this statement: “I fully understand that this surgery will render me permanently incapable of bearing children.” My eyes began to sting, my palms got sweaty, and my hand began to shake. The weight of reality hit me like a ton of bricks. Permanently incapable of bearing children. Could I really do this? Honestly, I just wanted to put the pen down and run. So I took a deep breathe and tried to gather myself. Thankfully the nurse was too busy sorting paperwork to see the nervous breakdown that was occurring the chair across from her. I quickly signed my name and she sent me on my way with a “I’m sorry that you are having to do this but we will take good care of you.”
That night I had nightmares that somehow I ended up getting pregnant but we weren’t going to find out in time so they were going to take out my uterus with a baby in it. I woke up in a cold sweat and reminded myself that that was the reason for the pregnancy test they had me take earlier that day. I tried to somehow go back to sleep.
Before I knew it my alarm was going off and it was time to head to the hospital. My parents had made the trip down to be with me during and after the surgery. My husband and I headed to the hospital and they would follow shortly. We arrived and they took me back to my room quickly. I got changed into my fashionable gown and sat on the bed as the flurry of nurses began to come in and out. Family and friends began to arrive to show their support. They tried to lighten the mood as much as possible. Thankfully the nurse didn’t wait long to give me something to ease my nerves.
A few minutes later, the nurse came into the room and announced that they were ready . . .
This article is intended to convey general educational information and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional healthcare advice.