I’ve been very quiet for a week. On the 26th of October, I have to go into hospital for a short outpatient surgery. It doesn’t take long and I can be discharged on the same day but it’s taking its toll on me.
After around eighteen months of frankly unpalatable symptoms, I’m going to have an ablation and – after a little more time – I will be sterilised. I don’t want any more children but there is something about the death of my fertility that is really gut wrenching.
I was told that I would never have children and Mr Sophie’s Voice and I threw ourselves into the child free, reasonably prosperous lifestyle that we could afford at the time. Then, seven years ago, we had a moment of clarity and admitted that we both wanted children.
My children are aged 4 and 22 months. It took two years and three miscarriages for our eldest child to ‘stick’. It seemed like a miracle. My aunt still talks about my first daughter in quasi religious terms. She arrived in record time – 49 minutes – and ripped my body apart. She didn’t breathe when she was born and I passed out so I never saw the midwives revive her. After all that violence, she was a sweet baby and we decided to try for a second – she was an almost instant baby. Literally – wham, bam, you’re pregnant, ma’am. That birth was even faster – 17 minutes – and even more violent. A hospital room full of people as – this time – my body nearly ripped my baby apart.
Yet, after all that, I have two children. My ‘breeder’ status is such a novelty to me that I have languished in it. I know that my body can perform this most basic, yet most essential – on some level to me – of tasks.
Now I will lose this intangible quality. This thing I have been blessed with. This thing that I am so grateful for. This thing that has brought me so much happiness – us, so much happiness. It will be gone tomorrow. If, by some natural accident, I become pregnant again, then I will lose that baby. It’s written in medical stone. Carved there by example and science.
My outfit of the day – two of them, as I shop when I’m miserable – will carry me through the few days of convalescence which I will go through after the surgery. I’m going to have to stay in bed – in intense pain – while my body rids itself of my fecundity. It will feel like it’s rejecting cervical tissue. It will be. From tomorrow afternoon onwards, my womb will be nothing but scar tissue – the process burns the womb like farmers used to burn fields to kill the last growth of crops. I will expel the last possibility of life.
I’m going to spend my time in bed. I want to feel a little bit luxurious so I’m wearing pyjama pants, camisoles and soft, comforting knitwear. The pictures show some fun slippers but I don’t think I’ll be walking anywhere. Maybe for a bath. I’ve uncluded books and I think I might paint my nails.
That’s how to convalesce in glamorous style. That’s my coping mechanism. It’s a bit Norma Desmond, I realise, but it’s going to work. It has to. I can’t fail. I have too much work to do to get seized up in a depression.
Yes, I’m going to mourn. I have to go through a process. Don’t tell me that I’m going to be mourning the loss of children I was never going to have. We all know that accidents – happy ones – happen. No, to me, it’s more than that. It doesn’t matter that I can’t express it adequately or that it’s illogical. It’s just there. Well, that’s the point. Something won’t be there.
So – tomorrow – I’m going to come home from hospital, curl up in my bed and feel penitent because I have consciously chosen to reject this gift. I’m going to cry quietly so that my children don’t hear me and worry. I’ll check my dressings and feel guilt every time. I’ll cry more. I’ll probably have to write more and I will slowly heel.
Slowly, surely, I will wrap my head around the fact that being able to have children is not what makes you a woman. The Madonna was a girl and she’s kind of a big deal to some people. Some of the most powerful, intelligent and admirable women in the world are terrible mothers. Some aren’t at all. Most of the successful women I know have an allure I have all but forgotten – and no nuclear family.
I will be fine. A woman is more than the sum of her parts – or some of her parts…however you think of it. But I will convalesce in black silk Agent Provocateur pyjama pants and cashmere knits and paint my toenails with Nails Inc. polishes because I want to and because it will be the right thing for me to do. For myself, for my children, for my husband, for my family.
Just a note on the bedclothes I have chosen – yes, this is the kind of loungewear that I mentioned when I described my ideal life. I guess I couldn’t do that all the time, after all. It turns out that I’m a dilettante at dilettantisme. That’s made me smile.
Finally, something has made me smile.
Posted from WordPress for Android