So, I’ve debated on writing this post for a few weeks. Where all of this took place is not important, and if I’ve ever had a conversation with anyone who reads this that involved kids or having children, this post has nothing to do with you. This all took place between a complete and utter stranger whom I’d never seen before, and will be absolutely fine with never seeing again.
*TMI warning, I talk about periods and uteruses*
The stranger-conversation went something like this:
Her *chasing an adorable toddler who nearly escapes her*
Me: *snags runaway baby* *hands her to Mom*
Her: “Thanks! You’d think she was covered in butter the way she can escape me.”
Me: “She’s beautiful!” *Making googoo faces at the toddler* “And smart! I see you plotting another escape.”
Her: “You have kids?”
Me: “Nope. And probably won’t ever have them. I’m just too selfish with my time, but I love all of my friends’ kids like they’re mine.”
Her: “You never know, you might change your mind one day. I never thought I’d be a mom, but now that I am, it’s the best choice I ever made.”
Me: “Yeah, well, aside from the whole ‘I’d be a sucky mom’ part, I’ve got adenomyosis, which makes it hard to get pregnant, and then has a higher chance for miscarriage. And I don’t think I could stand that.”
Her: “Medical technology has come a long way, there have been breakthroughs in fertility treatments, and all pregnancies carry a certain risk for miscarriage, but there are high risk OBGYNs who specialize in difficult pregnancies. Every first time mom is terrified that something will go wrong, but the vast majority of births go without a hitch.”
Me: “Uh, that’s true. However, I also have a clotting disorder that means just carrying the baby could cause me life-threatening clots, and the disorder could also cause me to have a miscarriage, and then if I did happen to have a miscarriage, I could bleed to death before I even got to the hospital.”
Her: “Well, there’s always surrogacy to think about. Nothing’s impossible if you want it bad enough, and you’ll never know if you don’t try!”
Not knowing what else to say, I just shrugged and nodded in agreement and we went our separate ways.
But the conversation stuck with me. For weeks. I’m still thinking about it. And having just spent the weekend with my best friend and her son, one of THE CUTEST MOST AMAZING KIDS EVER,
I finally decided to go on a rant about that conversation with an anonymous stranger.
Normally, I’m a ‘That’s nice, but it’s my life, not your life, so fuck off now.’ kind of girl if you push me on something. The kid thing, though, really hit me, in more ways than one.
This woman took several factors of my personal life that affect me very deeply and turned them into a simple assertion that they didn’t matter if I wanted to overcome them. In an exchange that took only a few moments, she brushed aside issues that I’ve been dealing with for years, she basically told me that if I wanted a kid, I could have one, and that if I never have one, it’s my choice, and nothing more. Here’s the thing, though. These factors do affect me, they have affected me all of my life, and they will affect me for the rest of my life and they really could kill me. And even though I was not really “set” on being a birth mom, now the chance to ever be one has been taken away from me through no fault of my own. And I have to deal with that loss. I’m still dealing with it.
Every month that I’ve had a period for the last twenty years (I didn’t get my period until I was almost 15) has damaged my uterus. Every period. And that includes the times in just the last five years when I maybe bled heavily for an entire month. Even now that some of the symptoms are controlled, the damage is still being done. The tissue is being destroyed a little more each month.
Adenomyosis is similar endometriosis. The difference is that in endometriosis extra tissue grows in strange places within your abdominal cavity, on your other organs, etc. When you cycle, these patches of misplaced tissue react to your hormones and cause pain and all sorts of problems. With adenomyosis, the misplaced tissue develops inside the walls of your uterus, and when you cycle, it can’t go anywhere, so your uterus basically tries to eject itself from your body. It’s like first and second stage labor, only you don’t get a baby out of it. All you get is a lot of pain. And in my case I get to lose a lot of blood. And I mean a lot of blood. Those 36 count pads? (yeah, no tampons, they don’t work and they make the pain worse) I could go through an entire package of those in a few days. No, I’m not being dramatic, there was that much blood. I won’t even describe the clots.
So, that was my life for 15 years. It got even worse the last five. I ended up on birth control to try and alleviate the symptoms. I hadn’t even been diagnosed with the adenomyosis yet. The birth control worked for a short time. Then they stopped making that high hormone one. A second one didn’t work. Third one did. And it also gave me a blood clot in my leg.
After the blood clot (I won’t go into detail here but treatment for the clot was a long drawn out process) and numerous blood tests and two intravaginal ultrasounds (just as uncomfortable as it sounds) we discovered that I have both adenomyosis and Factor II Deficiency. Within the span of a few weeks, I had to acclimate to the understanding that my uterus would probably never be able to carry a child to term, and if it failed to do so, I faced the real possibility of bleeding to death from the miscarriage, or a ruptured uterus.
Factor II Deficiency is extremely rare (there are currently just 100 cases of inherited Factor II Deficiency documented in the world) There are different levels of Factor II mild, to severe. I fall into the moderate category, meaning that I don’t have to worry about bleeding to death from a nose bleed. I do, however, have to worry about falling, surgery, clots, and hemorrhaging internally, and intracranially if I have an accident.
The Factor II has exacerbated my adenomyosis exponentially, and made the bleeding worse all these years. The clotting problems caused by the Factor II can also cause miscarriages. And in studies regarding adenomyosis, the clinical pregnancy rate (22.2% versus 47.2%) and ongoing pregnancy rate (11.1% versus 45.9%) were significantly lower in women with adenomyosis and the miscarriage rate (50.0% versus 2.8%) was significantly higher in women with adenomyosis than in women with normal uteruses.
If I did manage to get pregnant, I’d have to go on blood thinners for my entire pregnancy, which only increases my risk for hemorrhaging in the event of a miscarriage, a risk that would be grossly increased due to the adenomyosis. So it comes down to being willing to get pregnant and risk my life–multiple times, since the miscarriage rate is so high I’ll likely have to lose a few pregnancies before I ever get to term, if my uterus doesn’t rupture before then–just to have a child by birth. And I’m not willing to risk my life for it.
But that doesn’t mean that having the chance to give birth taken away from me doesn’t hurt me deeply. I watch friends having babies, my twin sister (who didn’t inherit the Factor II Deficiency, thankfully) having kids, and I know that I can’t do the same thing. Just because I don’t have kids, and hadn’t planned on having them, doesn’t mean that I might never want to. And I’m still dealing with that.
Anyway, the entire point of this rant was over the fact that someone who didn’t know me, also didn’t listen to me. When I told her I was too selfish to be a mom (totally true) she said I might change my mind. When I said I also had a condition that would make carrying a child difficult, and that I didn’t want to face losing one to miscarriage, she told me that there were high risk OBGYNs that could help me (as if watching your own body abort your child wouldn’t be traumatic in and of itself) And when I told her I also had a bleeding disorder that could kill me, she suggested an out-of-pocket process that costs on average $150,000.00 dollars and told me that I’d ‘never know if I didn’t try’. This woman, instead of saying “That’s fine, not everyone is cut out to be a mom” (which would have been totally appropriate) persisted until I laid out my entire medical history to justify why having a child wasn’t for me, and then insisted that I’d never know for sure if I didn’t try, negating my position to one of ‘Choosing to sit on the sidelines’ when in her opinion all I need to do it ‘Stop complaining and give it a shot.’
It’s going to take me a while to shake that conversation. It’ll take me even longer to stop regretting the fact that I didn’t lose my shit in public and tell her to stop using my personal issues has a soapbox for pro-motherhood and to go fuck herself. I’m still glad that I didn’t react that way to her, but I also still regret my restraint because I think I’d probably feel better about the interaction now.
Rant over. I’m going to go eat cheese and chocolate now.