I deeply struggled to accept the pain of infertility - zero chance of becoming pregnant - after my hysterectomy.
Not quite 30 years old, I'd elected to go under the knife.
Two cases of colorectal cancer were enough, and I didn't want a third. Although I hadn't received the "official" diagnosis yet, doctors suspected I had Lynch syndrome, which meant the next target for cancer was my female organs.
If I could prevent another cancer occurrence, I was determined to do just that. The 18-month-old baby girl crawling all over me who we'd adopted just a year prior became major motivation to stay healthy.
Yet in light of, maybe even despite of, the reasonable explanations for the surgery, it hurt.
The procedure itself was a fairly simple, easy surgery.
But emotionally, I was a wreck.
Life begged me to give a final farewell to any hope of a "miracle" pregnancy that would reverse my infertility.
I faced an invisible, silent grave that received no condolence cards, quiet procession or potluck meal after the service.
My female body would never, ever give birth to a child.
Very few people realized the deep, searing pain of infertility.
Praying for the miracle
I'd already coped with the unfortunate news that my treatment for colon cancer at age 17 left me infertile.
I'd undergone a procedure that suspended my ovaries into my abdomen so I could receive radiation for stage III colon cancer.
The surgery saved the natural hormone function of my ovaries, yet it put a wrench in family planning.
The surgeon explained that becoming pregnant naturally would be a challenge - if not impossible - for me.
Strange peace about infertility
Even as a high school junior, I felt a strange peace about infertility.
As a child, I'd always dreamed of adoption and as an adult, I embraced it.
Once my husband and I got married, we knew we'd adopt to start a family. I felt fortunate that our marriage wasn't full of painful infertility struggles.
But in the back of my mind, I also carried the doctor's words, "pregnancy is possible but not probable... miracles happen every day."
I didn't realize how much I'd hoped for that miracle until I was in another hospital gown many years later undergoing a procedure that permanently killed that dream.
The strange peace that dampened the pain of infertility was suddenly gone. My heart hurt once again.
I could hardly put words to the pain of infertility, nor did I feel safe to vulnerably express the emotions that followed my hysterectomy.
I fumbled through a few attempts with a few trusted friends, but none of us understood the extent of my suffering for quite sometime.
There's no way I could have... not with the inner critic telling me to get over it and be thankful I wasn't dealing with cancer again. Thoughts of jealousy, anger and remorse were afraid to turn into words, although they sat trapped inside of me.
Appreciation of our adoption story and the baby in my arms told me I couldn't experience grief - how could I feel so sad with a bundle of joy in my arms?
So I followed that mean inner critic's demands until one day, I couldn't do it anymore.
A defeated, barren woman - I never got my miracle.
A lump appeared in my throat, burning tears streamed down my face. For once, I couldn't stop them and I didn't try. I'd finally reached my breaking point.
Healing from the pain of infertility
I'd love to tell you I let myself cry for a little bit over the pain of infertility and then I stopped, stood up and everything was better.
Or I wish I could share I faced infertility's pain for a few more weeks and then it went away.
But infertility doesn't work like that (or any situation involving grief and loss).
Yet as I've given myself permission to grieve, I've found light at the end of a sad, dark tunnel does exist. The searing pain of infertility and hollow feeling of disappointment will fade with time, prayer and encouragement.
Healing can come.
And with healing, comes peace.
I've reconnected to that same peaceful mindset that first appeared when I initially learned I was infertile - a peace that surpassed all understanding because of its radiant hope.
Do I wonder what my biological children would have looked like? Sure, sometimes. Do I mourn over never being pregnant? Yes and no.
But do I believe there's a divine reason I'm a barren woman?
How and why? Faith. Faith says look beyond what I can see. Faith says find the world where bad turns to good. In faith, death can bring birth. Barren can bring forth life.
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