When I was a child, I loved my dolls. Sure, most girls love to play with dolls. But I think I enjoyed them more than most little girls. In fact, I played with dolls well into my tween years. While my friends were asking their parents for training bras and makeup, I was begging my mom for a new doll. No shame.
Fast forward many years later, and I found myself marrying the first boy I ever kissed. I knew some day, when we were ready, we would start our own family. I saved my garter and my wedding veil to one day pass on to my future daughter. I even convinced my Abuelita to let me have her special pin that was my “something borrowed.” I was going to save it for the future.
It’s been 8 years since we got married. And every year I think to myself: this is the year I’ll be a mom. Well, that hasn’t happened. In fact, I haven’t actually wanted children. I keep thinking that I’ll wake up one day and magically get the urge to have my own offspring. And that has yet to occur.
I found out recently that I have endometriosis. And frankly, I’m so pissed off about it. Endometriosis is an often painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus. Think of it as little islands of cells growing in random parts of your pelvis that bleed once a month when you’re on your period. To make matters worse, I have endometriomas (cysts) growing on both of my ovaries. They started off small and then grew slowly to be the size of golf balls, and now lemons. Freaking lemons. WTF.
Endometriosis is a weird disease. The severity of endometriosis is not directly correlated to the symptoms. I have stage four, the worst it can get. And guess what? I feel normal. I’ve probably had endometriosis since puberty and didn’t even know it. I thought everyone had painful heavy periods. I thought everyone experienced dyspareunia (aka painful sex). I thought I was just like everyone else…we just didn’t talk about it.
Well turns out, it isn’t true. Periods don’t have to last 7 days. Sex doesn’t have to hurt. This isn’t the norm. And just as I was wrapping my head around that, on October 10th I found out I couldn’t have children.
Okay, let me re-phrase that. It’s not that I am completely sterile. The doctor’s have not flat out said that. They’re really careful about stating absolute truths. But according to three different OBGYN’s, I have a less than 3% chance of getting pregnant naturally. And I’ll need to have surgery first to clean everything out down there if I even want to have that slim chance. Endometriosis is one of the leading causes of infertility. So here I am, feeling defeated before even starting the race to motherhood.
Maybe this is why I didn’t have that “OMG I want to be a mom” moment. Maybe my ovaries were being suffocated this entire time, and they’re just not feeling up for the challenge. Maybe I wasn’t meant to be a mom. Maybe God is trying to teach me a valuable lesson here. Maybe.
I mention October 10th, because that’s the day my best friend found out she was unexpectedly pregnant. We were both at an OBGYN office that day for two different reasons, getting two totally different pieces of life changing news. At exactly the same time.
And when I realized this, I broke. My dear friend, who is closer to me than my own sister, is now going to be a mom for the first time. And although I am happy for her, I am also in mourning. On top of that, five more of my close friends have babies due the same month as my bestie. Including my brother and his wife.
This holiday season has been tough for me. I think about my ovaries a lot. I think about babies a lot. And when jealousy creeps in, I feel so ashamed. But I do not want to become bitter. I do not want to become that person.
But what are you supposed to do when you’re told your lady parts don’t work properly?
The other day at work, a physician asked me “When are you guys having kids?” Such a harmless question wrapped in so much heartache. I could have made up some general answer, but instead I was honest. I don’t even know this doctor very well. But I had to tell someone. I had to let the word vomit out.
And you know what she told me?
“Your worth is not measured by your ovaries or your uterus. You are worth more than that girl, remember that.”
I wanted to hug her so bad.
She was right. She is right. Just because I may not be able to have my own kids doesn’t mean I’m any less of a woman. It doesn’t mean I am damaged goods. And whatever my fate may be, and whatever may come my way, I will accept it with grace and dignity. Because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. And my value is not measured by the parts that comprise me. I am worth more than the sum of my parts.
And when the time comes, I will pass on my old raggedy dolls and that beautiful pin my Abuelita gave me to someone very special to me. Regardless if we share the same DNA.
And I will tell her that she is worth more than the sum of her parts too.
About the Author: This author has chosen to remain anonymous. Gender Traitor is a safe space for every human being to express themselves in words. We respect the privacy of all of our authors at their request and hope this post encourages anyone who identifies to share their own experiences as well, be it anonymously or otherwise. Here's to finding the place where courage meets comfort.