I had a hysterectomy last summer. It was something I knew was going to have to happen for a number of years – it was just a matter of time, and I knew that. The issue was that I was waiting for the doctor to tell me that it absolutely had to be done, but she wouldn’t, year after year. In fact, the first year I went to see her, we were still seriously considering having another baby. Our question at the time was whether or not I was physically able to, with the prolapse I was experiencing. Yes, I could do it, and every year all test results came back normal – just that the first delivery and then gravity had done their work and were continuing to do so. So January 2011, my doc did say that if I wanted to have the hysterectomy, it had progressed enough that it was a reasonable thing to consider. Still could have a baby, but time was running out either way (I was 42).
So darn it, I had to decide for myself. No one was going to make the decision for me. Are we going to try again, with all the unknowns? Take the risk – many of them? (My health, a future baby’s health & development…)
Here’s the thing: I really had to accept the fact that we can’t control any of this. Ultimately, we are not in control. I kind of hate that. I couldn’t control whether or not this next child would also have special needs – due to genetics or my age. No control over that. I couldn’t control if my body really could handle it. And what about any further complications?
As I contemplated all of this, still seriously wishing I could have control, I also finally greeted the thought that had been tap-tapping in my head for a while, growing louder as the years have gone on since T’s birth. I really was not inspired to have another baby.
This could not have come as more of surprise to me, especially if I had said this to my 28 year old self as Rob & I were walking down the aisle. Minimum 3, probably 4 kids. That was the plan. Then life happened.
So I settled in with this thought for a while. I don’t want to have another baby. It was a new acquaintance, this thought, but it also felt like an old friend right away. Comfortable, you know?
Did I chicken out and take the safe way? Some may think so, but I’m the one that made the decision so I’m the only one that knows truly. The answer is that I did not. To chicken out would have been to give in to expectations and what other people wanted for me and for us as a family. And I love that so many people wanted us to have more because that tells me that those people think we would have been good parents to more than one. I take that as a real and humbling compliment. But the truth was that I did not want to do it again. I chose to embrace the really lovely life that Rob, Thomas and I have. Life is good. We are happy & content and have built a really nice life around ourselves here, surrounded by dedicated and loving friends and professionals that have joined us for the journey. Nearly a year later, I remain happy that I decided to have the surgery.
Are there times that pull at my heart? Yes. Not long ago, a beloved 18 month old daughter of some dear friends of ours ran back to our house when it was time for them to go to their car. She probably was just trying to escape and not leave yet, but regardless of the motivation, she held up her arms while sobbing and ran toward me. I scooped her up and she stopped crying immediately, snuggling in to my body while sucking her thumb. It was beautiful. This simple, everyday experience has been denied to me because of Autism. This never happened for me as a mom of a toddler. In fact, he never even cried or even seemed to notice when Rob or I would leave him with a babysitter. Parenting has been different for us.
But as my minister said to me as I was contemplating this decision, there is more than one way to parent in this world. There is more than one way to make a difference in the lives of children around us. So we will be sublime parents to the amazing child we have, and find other ways to parent the children in our lives. I am content and at peace with this.