Just like almost every little girl, I grew up with dreams of meeting my Prince Charming, falling in love, getting married, having a family and living happily ever after. As I got older, I realized that not all dreams come true the way we want them to. My journey to find my Prince Charming took much longer than I had planned. But my journey to motherhood has been a most difficult one that, at times, seems impossible.
When I first learned I had fibroids, I was in my twenties. I had no idea what that diagnosis would lead to. My gynecologist at the time gently urged me to consider starting a family soon after I recovered from my myomectomy. I wasn’t married nor did I have a serious partner, so conceiving at the time was not an option. Besides, I thought I had time on my side, and I just knew the fibroids wouldn’t come back that quickly.
I was wrong.
Five years after my first myomectomy, my gynecologist diagnosed me with fibroids again. The first surgery yielded two. Ultrasounds prior to my second surgery showed four fibroids. When my doctor began this surgery, she opened my uterus and was shocked to find fourteen fibroids waiting for her. Hours after the surgery she told me that she and her surgical partner immediately halted the surgery, went in the corner of the operating room and began praying. She knew how important my fertility was to me, and how dire my situation was. What should have been a 90-minute procedure turned into a five-hour ordeal as the doctors worked painstakingly to remove each and every fibroid.
After the second surgery, my doctor was very frank with me. Time was not on my side. And thanks to genetics, the fibroids would be back with a vengeance. She told me if I wanted to have children, I had to put aside the notion of marrying Prince Charming and explore other options for conceiving. I thought I could buy time with alternative medicine while I tried to figure things out. However, the fibroids beat me to the finish line again.
Almost five years to the day of the second diagnosis, I was back in the same gynecologist’s office listening to her tell me once again, I needed to have a myomectomy. This time, she was blunt. She urged me to get second and third opinions, and to brace myself for the possibility of not being able to conceive. By this time I had been married for two years, and my husband and I had dreams of starting our family soon. We raced against time visiting fertility specialists and holistic practitioners, in hopes of getting a positive prognosis.
I tried everything – acupuncture, alternative medicine, visualization, and journaling – in an attempt maintain or restore my chances at fertility. In the meantime, many of my friends and family members, some of whom had their own fertility challenges, were getting pregnant, having babies, and celebrating motherhood. I started withdrawing from everyone and everything. Gripped by jealousy and serious bouts of depression, I became an emotional wreck. Some days I was hopeful, other days utterly despondent. Few people at the time knew that I had been diagnosed with clinical depression and had to go on medication just to function. I couldn’t bear to look at baby commercials on television. I swore off baby showers. Seeing pregnant women on the street would send me into a crying fit. Even seeing mothers interacting with unruly children in the supermarket would have an affect on me. It didn’t help that there were those around me, some of whom knew what my husband and I were going through, were so insensitive. I tried my hardest to build a cocoon to shield myself from reminders of what would never be.
Last year, I finally got to the point where I could function without falling to pieces on a daily basis. I mourned the loss of my fertility, struggling through each stage of grief. Through all of this, my husband has been supportive, and encouraged me to consider adopting. Families, after all, aren’t strictly biological. I couldn’t wrap my mind around adoption at the time, and pushed that, along with my dreams of having a baby, to the back of my mind.
I never thought that I would be childless. I never would have wished this for myself. There isn’t a day that goes by that I find myself wondering if I had made a different decision somewhere in my life that would have led to me having a family of my own. But at the same time, I still hold on to a glimmer of hope. My current gynecologist has been supportive and reassuring. “Never say never,” she tells me at each visit. She told me that she had a patient who, like me, had multiple myomectomies and had been told she’d never conceive. That patient beat the odds to become a first-time mom, giving birth to a healthy baby at the age of 43. That gives me hope.
Through this experience, I’ve learned that I’m not alone. There are hundreds of thousands of women who are struggling with fertility issues. I’ve also learned that I have wonderful, supportive friends who have been patiently waiting for me to open up to them. They understood when I didn’t come to baby showers or birthday parties. They reassure me, accept me and love me regardless.
I still hold on to hope. I still dream. And I still have moments when I fight back tears. But I have come too far on this journey to give up.