I’m Having a Hysterectomy…

I‘m having a hysterectomy exactly one week before Christmas. Did I mention I’m a pastor? Not that there’s ever any ideal time for such a significant medical procedure, but… seriously?

I’m having a hysterectomy and scrambling to get my house clean and organized before the surgery at a pace that (in the greatest of ironies) closely resembles the nesting phase expectant mothers go through late in their pregnancies.

I’m having a hysterectomy at about the age my mother had hers, and I realize how young she really was at the time.

I’m having a hysterectomy because I am young. In just a few short years, I’ve gone from one fibroid that caused me few if any issues to multiple ones that have left me anemic and depleted. I could have them removed, but as long as I’m pre-menopausal they will return. If my mother is any indication, I’ve got about another decade before menopause.

I’m having a hysterectomy almost ten years to the date that I found out I was pregnant with my one and only live birth. She was my pregnancy after a miscarriage — my “rainbow baby,” as they say. The next year she played the baby Jesus in the church Christmas pageant. Learning she was coming was the best Christmas gift I’d ever received. It would be the last of such gifts.

I’m having a hysterectomy and I’m ambivalent about it. I always thought I would have more kids. Like my daughter, I’m an only child, but I always expected to have (as in, give birth to) more children than my mother. I now have to trade in those expectations for new ones. I’m sad about losing one set of possibilities, but hopeful for a new reality, one in which I’m healthy and whole in my body. It’s a reminder that grief and hope can and do exist in the same space. They are not allergic to each other.

I’m having a hysterectomy and rehearsing my new responses to the invasive family planning questions people often have for women. I’m leaning toward, “I would tell you to stay out of my uterus, but since I no longer have one…” Nah, that’s probably too curt. I’ll keep working on it.

I’m having a hysterectomy in 2017 when some people still don’t seem to know that hormonal birth control is a tool for so much more than just preventing pregnancy. People with power still look to restrict access to it. This is why we will always need comprehensive sex ed in schools and women who refuse to stop advocating for themselves.

I’m having a hysterectomy knowing that Black women disproportionately suffer from a number of gynecological challenges, but not knowing what to do with that. I speak the name of Saartjie Baartman, and recall the countless enslaved women whose horror gave way to modern gynecology.

I’m having a hysterectomy with extreme gratitude for the medical professionals — black women medical professionals, for what it’s worth — who’ve tried numerous treatments and explored myriad options, but ultimately let me decide what was best for me. I think that should be a right, not a privilege.

I’m having a hysterectomy and wondering what happens to the women who don’t have access to the kind of care I’ve had. What happens to the sister who suffers because she’s uninsured or unhoused? What about the underpaid woman who has to choose between food and feminine products? Why are we not talking about her? Why are we not better siblings to all of them?

I’m having a hysterectomy at the only time in the liturgical year when we celebrate pregnancy and birth. I’m still figuring out how I feel about that.

I’m having a hysterectomy as I guide the church I serve through dissolution. You couldn’t write a better parallel than this one. Just as I have done, they’ve made the decision that going on in their current state would only cause more harm in the long run. They are hemmorhaging resources (seriously, God, these parallels!). They’ve decided to let go of the what-ifs in favor of the what-could-bes. Nobody is thrilled about the decision to dissolve, but we still trust that God can bring new life out of a fallen seed. Again, grief and hope coexisting.

I’m having a hysterectomy. For many reasons, I covet your prayers.