Body Love: U is for Uterus
I was born with an uterus and ovaries. They are part of me. I mostly identify as a cis-female and for many this entails that you embrace the task nature has given you: you are supposed to have children. Your body is made for it, evolutionary that is what your role is in this universe. Fortunately, it is 2020 and in most parts of the world, women have gained autonomy over their bodies and their reproduction. With the help of contraceptives, we can now make informed choices about when and if we want children.
PCOS and Infertility
Early in my teens, I got diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). I am a pretty clear case: I have the bubbles around my ovaries and the hormone levels in my blood are a bit wonky (I have more testosterone than a woman normally would have, for example). PCOS is not an uncommon illness, but it is one that has only recently been studied more. I can go on a rant about how women and women’s illnesses have always been discriminated against in health care and research. But I won’t. Let’s just say that the patriarchal system can be found in every corner of society.
I got diagnosed with PCOS five times. Why five? Because doctors don’t believe you when you tell them that you have PCOS. So they do the ultrasound again, they stick a camera inside you, they test your blood. Yes, I have PCOS. For a long time, that bothered me mostly because I have terrible PMS (I suspect PMDD at this point), I am overweight and weightloss is almost impossible, I have excess hair, I have irregular periods, heavy painful periods, pain down there in general and I have insulin resistance. PCOS is the reason I developed type 2 Diabetes. It affects my mental health. It is one bastard of an illness!
The main reason why most women with PCOS seek help is infertility. PCOS is the most common reason for infertility in women and it is a common reason for women to receive IVF-treatment. But that didn’t bother me much. I wasn’t sure if I even wanted children or not. And we are in times where women can make that choice, after all. My family was never really pushy about grandchildren, although it got mentioned here and there when I had been in a relationship with a guy for several years. And now that my sister is a mother, I am off the hook.
Almost none of my friends have kids, and the few that have, are not those who try to convince everyone into thinking that parenthood is fantastic. They are pretty real about it. I have never been in an environment with the expectation that becoming a mother is a necessity.
I am not sure why that is. My friendship circles were often alternative people: goth, LGBTQ folks, leftists, activists, academics. I basically never really hung out with middle aged conservative people. I guess I was lucky that way. So I never thought about children being something that was set in stone for me as a woman. I had more of a if it happens then it happens attitude.
I know that I would be a good mother. I have been called motherly many times. And I am good with kids, they love me. But on the other hand: I know how badly a mentally ill parent can affect a child negatively. I am not saying that it does that with every child, but the risk is huge. Also, I have bipolar disorder, which is a heredity illness. and I would forever beat myself up if my child would have to suffer because of me. I have always thought logically about all of this, and that is why I never planned or tried to have a child.
In my mid 30s, I also got diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Apart from giving me a lot of frustrating symptoms, it is also an illness that is linked to infertility. And that is when I started to panic a little. I was getting old, and now I had two illnesses that cause infertility. And now, a few years later, I feel this weird push inside me that is telling me that I should have a child because what else would I leave behind in this world? What would my legacy be?
I know those thoughts are really only driven by anxiety of missing the last opportunities of becoming a mother. Even if logically, just becoming pregnant would probably be a whole ordeal with IVFs, and other treatments. But this push, it is strong. And I keep telling myself that it was not meant to be. That reasonably, a child would not make my life better. And most of the time, I am okay with not being a parent. I have lived with the knowledge that motherhood might not be in the cards for me for many years. So I assume that the need that I feel is not as strong as it might be for other uterus-owners. And I am also quite sure that I won’t go down the road of motherhood.
What makes me sad is that I don’t feel like I ever had a choice. I have an uterus, I have ovaries. Nature intended for me to bear children. But I am infertile. How do I know that? Because I have had cum inside me, many many many times. And I didn’t get pregnant. And all the extra-work I’d have to put into even a chance of using my body the way it was supposed to be utilized, is just making me sad. There is a little hole inside my heart, missing the opportunity of a proper choice. It just hurts. A little.
And I really hate my period. It is painful for me. The PMS ruins so much for me. It seems so unfair that someone who is infertile needs to suffer through a period. Would not having an uterus and ovaries make me less of a woman? I have been thinking about a hysterectomy before, just to get rid off the terrible periods.
The question that is probably going to pop into my head here and there for the rest of my life is: am I less of a woman because I don’t have children? And however much I believe in choice, and in that motherhood is not for everyone, I can’t get over the feeling that my body has failed me in its duty to allow me to be a woman.
I am doing the A to Z challenge during the month of April (and apparently beginning of May). My theme is Body Love. So you will get 26 posts from me, following the alphabet, related to the topic body love. You can check out more about the to A to Z challenge by clicking on the banner. You can find a list of sexbloggers participating in the challenge on Mrs Fever’s site.