I always thought the moment I got my very first ultrasound sonogram that it would be special.
I thought I’d be squealing in excitement and anticipation over the fact that a little life was growing inside of me and I could see it in its early form thanks to some fancy scan and some cold gel.
I thought I’d be staring at that picture for the next five days straight, trying to come up with potential names and fantasizing about how the next nine months were about to go.
I also thought I’d immediately call my Mom to tell her that she would be a grandmother for the sixth time (my older sister has five of her own) and crack jokes about how much of her Christmas shopping was now going to heavily revolve around little kids.
But that’s not what happened.
When I actually got my first ultrasound sonogram back in November 2021, what was displayed wasn’t in the least bit exciting, anticipatory, fantastical or cause for jokes. What I saw were two noncancerous tumors inside my uterus, most commonly known as uterine fibroids (a.k.a. two unwanted growths I had been preemptively diagnosed with two months prior during a horrific visit to the ER). And they were the bane of my existence.
You see, during that November visit with my gynecologist, before I received my sonogram, he likened the presence of uterine fibroids to a tree and house. My uterus was the house and the fibroids were the tree. He said that there’s nothing inherently wrong with a tree that grows beside a house, what matters is where it’s positioned. So long as the tree grows outside of the house, there’s usually no cause for concern. But if there’s a tree growing right in the middle of the house, then there’s absolutely cause for concern. And wouldn’t you know it: I had two trees blooming in my living room.
Ain’t that some shit.
To make matters worse? I’d soon come to learn that those two trees turned out to be the cause of the excruciatingly painful periods I’d been suffering with for the last five years. And by “excruciatingly painful,” I mean dreadfully debilitating and depressive.
Every month, a sense of despair would wash over me in the days leading up to my period because “that time of the month” had truly become some of the worst times of my life. Thanks to pain that would keep me bed-ridden for two to three days straight, cramps that felt like my uterus could implode at any second, and violent and excessive vomiting from sun up to sun down on those three days that often left me too exhausted to do anything but sleep, “Aunt Flo” had quite literally become the worst house guest on planet Earth. And now I knew why.
What’s followed in the weeks and months since that visit has been an overwhelming amount of research, webinars, phone calls and more in an attempt to figure out the best option to get rid of those fibroids all while preserving the health and integrity of my uterus.
For specificities’ sake, I have two submucosal fibroids. These are uncommon in the sense that they’re tumors that crowd the uterine space as they grow within the inner lining of the uterus, per Harvard Health. In addition to long and difficult periods, severe anemia (which I also had, but that’s another post for another day), fatigue and dizziness, they can also negatively impact fertility and cause pregnancy problems.
As a woman nearing 30 and in my “prime child-bearing years,” the fact these fibroids pose a risk to me carrying a child on my own one day has been...concerning, to say the least. Upon learning this information, I’ve consequentially been inundated with thoughts concerning my prospects of becoming a mother in the future—thoughts that I’ve never had to think about before: Never mind wanting to conceive, will I even be able to when its time? Do I need to start thinking about freezing my eggs? How much does that cost? What does that even look like? Should I think about surrogacy? How expensive is that? Do I adopt? That’s not an easy process either. Am I selfish or myopic for not really wanting to do either because I want to be the one to experience the little flutters of kicks of a growing baby inside of me and seeing a face that resembles that of my own and the man I love?
But perhaps what’s more surprising—I began to question my desire of becoming a mother in its entirety. Was bearing a child something I really wanted to do because I want to nurture, give, and experience the love my own mother gave to me onto a child of my own? Or did I want to do it because that’s just what society expects women do? Do I really want to be responsible for rearing and molding a young mind who may end up needing therapy for the decisions I did or didn’t make while they were growing up?
Am I selfish if I choose not to? Am I reckless if I choose to do so? What do I really gain by having a child? What will I never gain if I don’t? Is potentially carrying a child for nine months a risk I’m willing to take with my body given all the trauma it’s already experienced these last five years? By choosing not to have a child, am I being self-centered or am I being self-preservatory? Am I wrong for even having all of these conflicting thoughts in the first place?
I still don’t have the answers and I’m not writing this in an effort to get them. My hope is that by penning this, I can open up dialogue for women who may be silently going through the same thing and assure them—and myself—that whatever decision you eventually come to: IT’S OK. Contrary to popular belief, there is time and you don’t have to choose to do anything right now.
And while definitive answers may evade you and I right now, I also hope that when the time finally does come, you make the best decision that aligns best with both your heart and your health. Because you matter. Your life, your dreams, and all your desires do too. And I hope you never forget that.