When my mother was 35, after a lifetime of gynecological problems, she was given a full hysterectomy. Uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, the lot. My sister was around five and I was about 13 and as far as I was concerned, my Mum had kids and she didn’t need her reproductive bits anymore so it was best to get them gone. She had endometriosis and her insides were so badly fused together that she had to have tissue removed from her bowel and spine and was told that this could mean, in a worst case scenario, she could also lose a portion of her bowel and have a colostomy bag, so when she came out of surgery and they’d managed to save her bowel, all we could feel was relief.
In the years since, I’ve heard my Mum talk about her grief at losing her ability to reproduce at such a young age, but it’s barely registered. Until yesterday, when I was sat on the bus on the way home from work. I’ve been having some gynae problems of my own, pain that the Doctors cannot explain and wouldn’t investigate (I was told a couple of years ago that they wouldn’t do a laparoscopy because I was too fat. My GP has since sent a strongly worded letter about how ridiculous this is).
I was sitting on the bus, going through the worst thoughts that were whizzing around my head, and it suddenly occurred to me how awful it must have been for my Mum. I’m almost 28, not quite the same age, but somewhere in the ballpark and the thought of having the decision to have more kids taken out of my hands in the next 7 years is devastating. Genuinely scary.
I rang my Mum last night, just to let her know that I finally get it. I know it’s a bit late for sympathy, but she said to me that if she could have she’d have carried on having kids until there was about six of us to look after. That’s what my Mum does, she looks after people, she’s even taking her Nursing degree at the moment. I wish I’d known at the time and could have been more sympathetic to her grief. I guess sometimes it takes a bit of walking a mile in someone else’s shoes to really get it.