We talked about being pregnant at the same time. How we’d be fat, tired, sloppy preggo mamas eating muddy buddies and drinking water on the couch.
I had pain, but it wasn’t too crazy.
My husband and I were fighting a lot. We weren’t in a good place and adding the stress of a pregnancy was not something that sounded too exciting. I know how to be pregnant and care for a baby. I don’t know how to make my marriage better. Imagining having to juggle both was exhausting.
The pain was getting worse.
Me and Ali would go running and I was getting used to the back pain that came along with it. Having our major weekly bitching sessions before the run is what made it the therapeutically necessary. We’d vent, cry and hug and then run it off. It was invigorating.
Then I started bleeding during sex.
I saw the midwife Ali went to so that when we got pregnant we could go to the same one. The earthy crunchy midwife felt my protruding uterus and said that it wasn’t supposed to be like that. I couldn’t get an ultrasound that day so I had to wait. The pain was getting worse and the bleeding more frequent. “Maybe my IUD is ripping through something it shouldn’t”, I said to my husband. I was guessing a lot. There was nothing else to do.
Then I started feeling contractions randomly. I needed a doctor.
I showed up to my appointment shaking and nervous. Bringing up my history of Vbacs (vaginal birth after cesareans) and random scar tissue pain from my C-section, the doctor checked my belly and sent me to get an ultrasound and to schedule an emergency MRI. I was scared. Ali and J were helping me through it. My husband didn’t know how. And I honestly didn’t know how he should. I’ve been taking care of myself my whole life. How do you just teach someone else to do it?
Tests came back and it was conclusive. Adenomyosis. Only cure is hysterectomy. (Adenomyosis is close friends with endometriosis. Scar tissue grows within the walls of the uterus causing abnormal size, a spongy texture and a lot of pain.) But what about my pregnancy plans? The pain was getting worse. The bleeding was more frequent. The marriage was still rocky. A baby wasn’t in my future. I knew what I needed to do. I needed to feel better and start to fix my marriage.
I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and made a silent request to Gd. I asked him to please give the souls in heaven set aside for me to the women who have been waiting for theirs. I wasn’t going to be meeting them or loving them. Please give them to the women who will nurture them. And then I cried. The door that had been closed halfway for convenience and necessity was now being shut for reasons not in my control. Forever. No backsies.
I had the operation. The doctor came to visit me afterwards when I was all settled in my room. He showed me the cause of my pain. He had performed a laparoscopy (exploring with a camera) and took a picture from the other side of my belly button of my C section scar tissue. The healed tissue from my uterus congealed with the scar tissue on my abdomen. My uterus was being stretched to my abdomen and vice versa.They became Bff’s when they were healing and then became inseparable. The doctor had to cut them apart. He said my abdomen fell into my pelvis like it was finally free and able to rest. The adenomyosis made my uterus the size of a 16 week pregnancy. He pulled it out followed by my cervix. The womb that housed my 5 children was now a specimen for students to study. My scar tissue Bff’s pictures were being passed around to residents as warnings of malpractice. Apparently, it was done by human error.
When the doctor mentioned this to me, it brought me back to the day of my C-section. My labor was going slow and steady until I got to 10 cm (fully ready to go) and my daughter changed her mind and scooted up into my ribs. She was crushing the placenta and the monitor couldn’t hear her heart rate. The nurses paged the doctor, while another nurse jumped onto the bed with me searching for the heartbeat. I was wheeled into the OR and they put me completely out. My epidural was turned down so I could feel the urge to push and it was not allowed to be turned back up. My daughter was delivered blue, but thank gd she was breathing.
The whole event took 8 minutes. Suing my doctor who performed the emergency cesarian that saved my daughter’s life because I had to have an hysterectomy at 33 after 5 beautiful healthy children sounded not only ridiculous, but selfish. I felt like it was telling my doctor how unthankful I am for my daughter’s life. My doctor was trying to save my baby. And she did. In a way that hurt me. But the life she saved is worth more than the pain it caused.
I healed very well after the hysterectomy. The pain was gone. No more bleeding. I still had one last thing to do. I needed to dunk one last time in the mikvah. My last time counting white days and marking a calendar. My last time needing to separate from my husband for family purity. My last time cutting my nails, soaking in the tub and getting anxious thinking about the checklist. My Mikva night fell out on Friday night. I prepared at home and waited till sundown to walk to the mikvah. I was strong. I knew I could do it.
I knocked and told the mikvah lady I was ready. She opened the door to the pool of water and the familiar chlorine smell and warm mist greeted me. It’s the smell of anticipation. It’s the smell that means I could share a bed with my husband again. And this was the last time I would feel that. I slowly stepped into the water, walking down the steps taking one at a time, trying to savor the moment. I turned and dunked. I didn’t squeeze my eyes shut or tighten anything. I did the dead man’s float and felt gds presence with me. I popped up, covered my hair, separated my top from my bottom by crossing my arms and recited the blessing, for the last time. I dunked 3 more times. And then I couldn’t leave the water. “Do you want to take a minute?” I nodded. And then I cried. Hard. Into my hands. This was the last time I’d feel gds presence in the water with me. The door was closed.
I shared a bed with my husband and I couldn’t look at my own. The white sheet was still there staring at me and reminding me that I was now done. I gave the bed to my oldest daughter. I only wanted one bed in my room.
I healed. Emotionally and physically. My husband and I were doing better. Ali and I were still running and having our bitch sessions. After one of our runs Ali told me she wanted to get pregnant. She said it as gently as she possibly could and I loved her for that. It was something we wanted to do together just a few months before, and now it wasn’t. I wasn’t sure how I felt. It wasn’t any emotion I’ve ever felt or knew how to describe. I went home and decided to tell my kids I couldn’t have any more babies. “Mommy’s parts are broken. They can’t be fixed. I’m okay and I am happy with every single baby I have.” And I felt relief. I hadn’t realized how hard it was for me to face my children with that news. I had kept my surgery a secret from them because I was scared to tell them my choice. But opening up to them and telling them the truth was very freeing.
Ali’s pregnancy (yep, her parts still work) was a nightmare. She had terrible nausea and couldn’t leave her house. I was as supportive as I could be without overstepping or making myself nuts. We stopped running. We stopped going out. We stopped doing the majority of the things we usually did because of how she was feeling. It was a long 9 months for me, even more so for Ali.
The day she went into labor I was a wreck. I was anxious, nervous, and excited. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I couldn’t focus on anything. I was pacing and texting her husband every hour. And then he texted me that she had a baby girl. I went to see her right away. I couldn’t stop smiling.
I knocked on the door and was let in. She was sitting up in bed with a T-shirt on and had the post birthing glow. It was the euphoria of bringing a new soul into the world and the adrenaline pushing her to stay awake. Her freshly pedicured toes were popping out of the modesty sheet haphazardly and she was slightly slumped. She looked beautiful. Her husband was holding the new baby. It was so calm, quiet and serene. I held her princess and I cried. The thought of myself never being in that bed again did enter my mind but it was overpowered by the love and joy I felt for Ali and her husband. I felt part of her miracle. I felt love towards her princess. Her baby, is part of me, too. As much as Ali and her husband.
My womb is broken but my heart is healed and full. My husband and I are in a better place now. We have our children. We have our health and we have faith. We’re a team. I might not be able to have any more babies, but I’m still a mother. Hashem made the decision for me to be done. I have enough love and trust in Hashem to know he chose this path for me for a reason.