I was told I needed to have a hysterectomy at a young age, 29. I had the hysterectomy surgery soon after I turned 30. I have been wanting to write this post for so long, over 5 years in fact and I haven’t been able to until now. It still makes me feel nervous when I think about publishing this and having the world see it. It is incredibly difficult to lay myself bare like this, but I’m writing it because when I think back to when I was told, I was petrified. I scoured the internet for hour upon hour, alone in the early hours, unable to sleep and desperately searching for information and I found lots of cold hard facts about the surgery itself, lots of stories of older ladies and their experience and not much about life after hysterectomy for someone younger.
So I’m writing this for anyone who is feeling terrified and confused, facing something so life changing and in need of a little reassurance, looking for someone to say, I’ve been there and I promise you, it’s ok! I was incredibly lucky and already had two children, (a traumatic forcep delivery with my first putting me off and probably contributing to my need for the hysterectomy, something I will go into in more detail in another post I think), but still I mourned the future children I didn’t think I wanted until choice was removed from me and uncertainty took hold.
My overriding fear was that I would die during the operation. Don’t ask me why, I’d never had any kind of operation before and I was truly terrified, despite my husband, (something of an operation pro after many many childhood injuries!), reassuring me that it was just like going to sleep and then waking up after, totally unaware. (And it was. In fact, I quite enjoyed the drifting feeling!) Because of this, I decided to still run the half marathon I had booked and trained for, despite it being less then a week before the op. I think I thought I’d never do anything like it again. Which I haven’t, but that is down to pure laziness!
I also had to go through a grieving period for the children that I wouldn’t be able to carry. As I said, I was pretty certain that I didn’t want anymore, I’d had such terrible postnatal depression after my second, but suddenly, having that choice taken away from me completely, it was horrible and I shed many tears for those babies that would never be. I chatted online to many women that didn’t have children and were facing a hysterectomy though, and so I really do appreciate how fortunate I am to have my two.
When offered, I decided to keep my ovaries in an attempt to prevent some of the problems relating to early menopause, such as osteoporosis. I didn’t really want to take hormone replacement therapy for the rest of my life, I was so bad at remembering to take the pill, I didn’t really trust myself with remembering to take something regularly. I had a laparoscopic hysterectomy which means that I didn’t have an incision across my abdomen, everything is done vaginally which means that it’s a faster recovery time and less invasive. As much as that kind of surgery can be!
Recovery time wasn’t too bad, I think I was in hospital for about 4 days and then I had a week or so taking it easy, (as much as a Mum of a 1 and 3 year old can!), with my Mum staying and then no heavy lifting for around 2 months. I remember that the operation date came through and it was just before my son’s first birthday. I was determined to get out for it and came home that day, able to sit quietly and watch him open presents and eat cake. Not ideal timing but it would have meant a long wait otherwise.
My main aim of this post is to be positive and so I’ll briefly cover some of my big pre-op fears and how I feel now, over 5 years later. I have some further posts in mind to write such as How To Support Your Partner Through Hysterectomy and a bit more into why I needed the hysterectomy in the first place but in the meantime, please feel free to reach out and ask me any questions you might have, I will try to help as much as I can! You can email me; email@example.com or find me on facebook, twitter and instagram and I will try and respond as quickly as I can and hopefully help to alleviate some of your fears and direct you to some of the support groups that helped me.
I would feel like less of a woman. I genuinely worried about that, truth is, I really don’t feel different, I’m still me, just with a teeny tiny piece missing. I still love make up and nice clothes and feel very feminine, even when I’m in jeans and climbing trees!
I would die during surgery. Maybe a fear that everyone has before any operation, as you know, it didn’t come true anyway!
I would suddenly decide I was desperate for more children. This was a big one. I even started worrying about if my husband and I ever split up and he met someone else that he’d be able to have more children and I wouldn’t. It didn’t matter how many times he reassured me that a) we wouldn’t split up and b) he didn’t want anymore children, it still lurked at the back of my mind. Like I said, I grieved hard when I first found out and over the years I have felt a mixture of emotions seeing friends having babies. I have shed several tears and held newborns and thought some ‘what ifs’ when it seemed everyone was having babies but ultimately I am very happy with my family and I know we wouldn’t have another baby even if I could. Plus when it was really bad and I felt broody, we got a puppy! Far less work! 😉
No periods! Oh this one is brilliant. I had problematic periods, (part of the reason for the op) and it is so freeing not to have to worry about getting them anymore, working out dates for holidays, making sure I had everything I needed in my bag ‘just in case’, no fears about flooding or getting one whilst camping. It’s just fabulous. 🙂
No contraception. For years I did battle with contraception. It was the bane of my life. Everything made me so up and down. Or had to be taken at the same time every day. Seriously, how do people manage it. Now I don’t have to give it a second thought.
No pregnancy scares. Another great one. I used to be so paranoid about being pregnant. Now I know for certain that I’m not. It takes a weight off!
So here you go, my story in a bit of a nutshell. At the time it was one of the most horrendous, grief stricken and fearful things I’ve been through, but looking back now, I feel only positively about it. Despite having the very odd yearn for a baby occasionally. That’s when I take Hendrix for a long walk and remind myself how much easier life is now with older children. So if you’re reading this, scared and feeling alone, remember that it’s not just you, there’s a whole lot of us out there, it’s just that it’s not really spoken about, something that needs to change! Although it’s very scary writing this, and I feel a mixture of fear and weirdly shame about it, it’s also very cathartic and will hopefully mean that it’s easier for others to share their stories too. I had been desperate to write this and post it but I had been holding back, and then I had the pleasure of meeting Tanya Bishop, (who was born without a womb and set up The Pants Project) at an event at the Cheltenham Literature Festival and she convinced me to be brave and go for it. There is no reason to feel any embarrassment or shame. It’s just an operation after all!
Don’t forget to email me if you have any questions, I will try my best to answer them! firstname.lastname@example.org