Woman, Know Thy Uterus

This is a happy uterus. It's sitting in the pelvic cavity and doing it's job. Sometimes it gets cranky and causes some pain and suffering for a few days, but nothing we can't handle. This is what a uterus is supposed to do; how it's supposed to function.

Mine is not a happy uterus.

Recently, I have been feeling off. I haven't been on my "A" game, folks. I still pee when I sneeze or cough. I feel like some one is pushing on my guts all the time. My back is killing me. And, for those who want all the details, I feel swollen and puffy "down there". Off to the doctor I go!

So the doctor tells me I have a prolapsed uterus. What does this mean? It means my uterus is falling through my pelvic floor and putting pressure on certain vital parts of my anatomy (see above). If you were to google "prolapsed uterus" and look at the images (I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS. YOU WILL HAVE NIGHTMARES) you'll see that yes, that is a woman's vagina falling out of her body. And that is what I'm dealing with. My vagina is falling out of my body.

My vagina is falling out of my body.

What is the treatment for this horrific condition, you may be asking yourself? That's what I was asking, any way. Only one way to treat this: hysterectomy. The doctor will leave my ovaries in place (hooray for delaying menopause!) but will take out my uterus. This is so life changing...so...big. This is my womb. The part of my body that grew my beautiful children and pushed them into the world. I felt them grow. I felt them move and kick. I felt the contractions when they were ready to be born. And when they came into the world I felt my body push them out with all it's strength. And I will never know that feeling again. I will never hold my hand over my stomach and think "I can't wait to meet you". I'll never feel the flutters of new life within me again. I will never look down at a newborn with awe and wonder and nurse them for the first time again. This is the essence of me. The center of my being a woman; of who I am. I am a mother, I am a wife, a lover, a fighter, a teacher, a student, a role model, a follower, a daughter, a sister...a woman. Without my womb who am I? This may seem trivial to a lot of people, especially those without uteruses..uterussessess...uterii...a uterus. But a lot of women, myself included, see this as so much more than just some organ that bleeds every 28-30 days. It's how many women and mothers identify themselves. To carry a child and to give birth is obviously life changing. To abruptly lose that ability is traumatizing to say the least. 

Did I want more children? I don't know. I think now that I know I can't have any the idea seems like a greater loss than before. One of my friends put it beautifully: 
It is one thing to say you're done [having children] and another to have that choice taken from you.
Could I have another child? Sure. The doctor said that this wouldn't impact a pregnancy or birth. But should I have another child? It hurts my heart to know that I shouldn't. We don't have a house large enough, we don't have jobs that pay high enough, we don't have cars big enough to fit two infant seats and a booster seat. It won't work. So, Hubby and I have decided that we will be done. Later this spring or maybe summer I will be going under the knife to have my uterus removed. I will probably be sobbing my eyes out before they wheel me back, but it's something I have to do. It's better for me, for my family, this way. 

On the plus side...hey, no more periods!

For more information on vaginal and uterine prolapse visit http://women.webmd.com/guide/prolapsed-uterus
If you feel like you may be experiencing this, do not be embarrassed or ashamed. It's actually surprisingly common. From http://www.urmc.rochester.edu : In the 16,616 women with a uterus, the rate of uterine prolapse was 14.2%. See your doctor, do what is right for you. Don't worry about being embarrassed. Your health is more important.