“How do you feel about that?” the young resident doctor asked my husband. Here we were, sitting in a doctor’s office in 2019, discussing whether or not I should have a hysterectomy directly after the birth of our fifth child.
How does he feel about that?
I thought we made so much progress in healthcare. I’m not opposed to more babies in our family, but I am opposed to dying during pregnancy or childbirth.
I didn’t expect to receive pushback when I went to talk to the Maternal-Fetal Medicine (MFM) specialists. We have five children. I had a case of placenta previa that seemed to be embedded in my uterus. Each pregnancy had a list of complications, the worst complication was cholestasis, which causes extreme itchiness. And because I couldn’t catch a break, I had painful periods too – pains that had become increasingly more painful after each pregnancy.
I was done birthing children.
Chronic tonsilitis? Remove them.
Kidney stones? Remove them.
Chronic malfunctioning uterus? Make it stay, even if the patient says they are finished having children.
I may not be a medical professional, but it just doesn’t make sense.
Why do we treat women’s reproductive organs so differently?
I bet if my husband wanted a vasectomy and went to the clinic tomorrow, he would have no issue getting his doctor to refer him to a specialist. Why did I have to have such a stressful conversation with a resident doctor that saw my file for ten seconds and thought he knew better than the literal expert that was going to be performing my surgery in the coming weeks? His opinion was long forgotten at surgery time, but for him, as a medical professional, to assume I was incapable of having my own individual autonomy was downright insulting and demeaning.
The last thing I remember before my hysterectomy is my doctor asking me if I would like to remain conscious for the second half of the procedure — I decided that I did not want to be awake for that aspect of the surgery, and my anesthesiologist got straight to work.
My husband, thankfully on shore duty, followed our baby to the NICU. My doctor found that the placenta was indeed embedded into the uterus, and at my previous request, he made zero effort to save it.
My hormones fluctuated more than ever during the postpartum period and I was not anticipating that to happen.
The best part about having a hysterectomy after childbirth?
There’s a lot less blood during the healing process. One, you’re not bleeding for weeks during your postpartum recovery, and you’ll never have another period again. Now, I don’t feel like I’m planning my life around my painful cycle — and I’m not calling out of work every month due to debilitating cramps and pain. This allows me to be more present while I’m working and as a mom every single day of the year, and for that alone, these past 11 months have been pretty incredible, even when they were hard.