Monday, February 23, 2009

Nerves

One more day to go. And I feel like a deer caught in headlights. I just feel like grabbing my womb and making a mad dash for it. Or picking up the phone to cancel everything. But then, in my mind, the same boring conversation replays itself over and over again in a tiresome loop. Goes like this:

"Hey, why fix what ain't broke? You're not feeling unwell. Its not cancer you know. Its bothersome and annoying to have fecal incontinence, to not be able to wear a tampon but what the heck, the prolapse is still manageable right? Its not too bad... What happens if you fix it and end up worse off? Now there's no pain, but what if you fix it and then there's pain? Not op pain but chronic pelvic floor pain forever after that? Or they sew you up so tight you can't ever have sex again? Or worse, what if you can have sex but CAN'T feel a thing because they killed all your nerves down there? Worse right??"

"Stop being so squeamish! You can't NOT do it. Don't do it now and then what happens next time when the prolapse is worse? Are you going to wait until everything drops right out of you? You've seen the picture, it ain't pretty. And when you're older? How well will you heal? Then the risk of recurrence is higher right? How many surgeries you want to endure for this? Better get it over and done with. Trust your surgeon to do a good job. You've done your homework. Relax. And anyway, what makes you think you're going to be worse off? You're going to have a brand new vagina! Just think of all the fun you can have with that!"

Both sides have logic and reason. But this is not about logic and reason. This is just pure emotion. And the one key emotion radiating through me is fear.

So what am I fearful of?

Making the wrong decision, making a mistake. Scared that I will end up worse off after the op. I'm not regretting a decision made or having trouble with this decision. I'm just fearful.

I'm also very, very sad.

I've been apologising a lot lately - to my womb.

Its worked long and hard for me over the years. Its the first home for all my children. And now I'm demolishing it. Its where they grew up, were nurtured for the better part of a year. Its housed my children, those here and those gone away and its offered me possibilities untold. So now that its served its purpose - thanks very much, but its got to go. I feel like a real ungrateful jerk for doing this.

So I've been apologising to it, saying how sorry I am.

My relationship with my womb has not been so lovey-dovey always. I've done my fair share of cussing in the early days whenever my period came. Cramped my style - in more ways than one! But over the past days, I've been relishing every moment. I can't remember exactly when I got my first period. Somewhere between 13 and 14 years old. But I guess I will forever remember the days of my last period. And even then, my womb has been good to me - it does not cuss me back when I cuss at it. I've had no endometriosis, no fibroids, no cysts etc. Even when I have my periods, recently at least, it only lasts 4 days max. It comes like clockwork and does not try funny surprises every month. There is a rhythm to all this. Its a rhythm I will no longer have and I find that strangely unsettling. No more cycles. You know the talk about lunar cycles, lunacy and wolves howling at the moon? We all live by certain cycles and this particular cycle that has marked my life month after month, will now be gone. I never thought I'd say this, but I will miss it.

I am truly sorry to say goodbye to my womb. I am saying goodbye to a time when I was every inch an earth mother, fertile, lush and ready to grow a baby and birth a baby. I am saying goodbye to the unexpected. I am saying goodbye to the possibility of another child. I am saying goodbye to all my clucky pangs.

Not that my clucky pangs ever go away. Over the weekend, I saw babies in arms, babies in slings and I felt a pang - I know that after this week, I will never be able to have another child - and all the adventures and emotions that that may entail. Even seeing slings make me sad. No longer will I be able to cradle a sleeping newborn in them. No longer will they graduate from cradle hold to sitting up like a sack of potatoes in the sling, and from there, to the usual hip-seat. My arms feel empty even now. All my slings have so many memories.

When I try to tell people how I feel about my uterus and my clucky pangs, they scold me - isn't it enough? You already have five!

Yes and no. I have said that five is plenty, and it is nice to have more time to myself. But I have never fully closed off that option of having more. Every month, I still hold my breath to see if my period comes and when it does, I do feel a mix of joy and regret. But now, I will no longer have that option open.

Its also not about the number of children you have. Its about losing a part of yourself, closing a door that can never re-open. So final and thats what makes it scary. Worse that I am the one making this deliberate decision to do so. I mean, if its cancer or life-threatening in one way or another, the issue of choice is pretty much taken out of your hands. But this is not the case.

I've read that depression after a hysterectomy is common. Particularly so for women who have not completed their family. So is my family complete? Doctors love to ask that question. "Have you completed your family?"

I know the answer to that one. "No, I do not complete my family. They complete me."

That's the smart-ass answer. But the truth for me has always been that I do not know how to answer this straight from the heart. I always hesitate. And maybe that alone is already the answer.

So now, no more womb. Will I be depressed after this? I guess if this blog starts showing more whiny, anxious, sleepless, weepy moments, you'll know. Actually, I think I AM already depressed.

I know, I know. I'm being maudlin - over-indulgent with the emotions, over-sentimentalising all of this. Humanising my uterus. What kind of crap is this?

But this is how I feel. I am acknowledging this. I am saying goodbye. I am mourning. I am grieving. That part of my life is over. That little pear-shaped pouch at my very core, silent but present and in its way, ever faithful, will soon be gone. My life will be different, I'm sure. Saying goodbye is very tough. Very hard to give this up. I have tonight and all of tomorrow to reflect and say goodbye.

Tomorrow morning, I will pack my bag. Take a bus, then a train, then the shuttle bus to the hospital. It sounds so normal - like I'm going shopping or off to a routine doctor's appointment. Instead, I will be checking into the hospital by 2pm. And sometime early the next morning, they will cut me open and remove my womb.

I will go alone. Or my mom might come. But it's alright. I don't mind being alone. All the better to think.

3 comments:

ee lin said...

BIG HUGS!!

I can't begin to know/understand how you're feeling but I know what you mean abt always feeling a little clucky and not knowing how to answer when people ask whether you've completed your family. I don't know how to answer cos I honestly don't know. I *want* more but my mind always tells me to stop and be sensible.

BUT focus on the positive, just keep telling yourself that. And pray for peace of heart and mind.

Will be praying for you through the op.

Anonymous said...

Hope everything runs smoothly during the op!
regards
octopusmum

Frond said...

hey, just read this... hope everything went well and you're recovering fast and with little pain.

I understand about the clucky pangs. Just spoke to a room full of preggy moms and so wanted to be one of them. Sigh.

My family is complete... we've both decided that. It doesn't mean I don't still long to hold a newborn in my arms.

And saying goodbye to a part of you is always hard... *hugs*