At 19 I was prescribed a baby.
Yes. After an invasive surgery, I was found to have endometriosis, a condition where the lining of the uterus grows in places it shouldn’t. In my case, it was on my bladder, bowels and ovaries. The surgeon cut and burned off what she could and then told me that it would continue to grow back and create more lesions over time unless I took drastic measures to combat it. I could get pregnant or go through medical menopause.
Menopause? At 19?!
Yup. And that’s what I chose. Figuring that I was too young to have a baby and wanting to finish my degree and live a little before I embarked on the journey of motherhood, I chose medical menopause. And it sucked. Imagine alternating pits of fire and ice that your body decides to jump through while riding a rollercoaster of freakish emotions. Luckily for me, it was at this time that I found The Cubs Fan who sweetly moved into my college rental and carried me through 6 months of burning rings of fire (and ice).
But back to the baby. Over the course of a year and a half I had three surgeries, after which each doctor told me I needed to have a baby and get a hysterectomy. Ah, the baby prescription.
I had a major problem with the baby prescription. I thought it was entirely selfish to have a baby in the chance that the endometriosis might be kicked into a sort of remission. I wasn’t ready for a baby, much less could afford one. From years 19-21 I battled with the notion of the prescribed baby. Was it fair to me or the child? Would I resent the baby for taking away my opportunity to enjoy my young adulthood? All the while, I spent most of my time at home suffering in an immense sea of pain that, in itself, stole my young adulthood.
Somewhere in year 20 I decided to give the whole baby-making thing a shot. I tracked my fertility meticulously by recording basal body temperature and cervical fluid data as detailed in Taking Charge of Your Fertility. I knew when I was ovulating and timed our baby making sessions accordingly. It became a bit of an obsession. And after a year of trying without luck we gave up. Not in the sense that we wouldn’t pursue it further down the road, but just stopped actively trying.
And then, 5 days before we moved back to the states from Italy, we found out we were pregnant.
What joy! Finally the prescribed baby was on the way to heal my body and heart from years of painful torture. But before that baby arrived, there was 10 months of continued torture in the form of three trimesters of all-day sickness and painful stretching of ligaments covered in endometrial scar tissue.
When I started to have regular contractions, my parents flew from Texas to California and met a very anxious me. There’s a lot of pressure on a pregnant mama to have her baby within a certain time period, especially when there’s return flight tickets involved. Seven hours after my parents arrived in California, we found ourselves in the labor and delivery unit where I received my “liquid gold” epidural and sailed through the delivery. I pushed for 3 sets of 30 seconds and out my squishy baby came. As the doctor handed the baby over to me, I heard my husband sing out the most beautiful words.
“It’s a girl!”
In that beautifully tearful moment, I shed my former skin and put on the glowing cloak of motherhood. Although it’s taken a few good washings to break it in, I think motherhood has begun to fit me like a favorite pair of jeans. And those “mom jeans” aren’t ever coming off.