endometriosis journey

Why I chose not to have children

When I was a naive young adult I longed to be a mother. I longed to love a child – or children – like my mother did for us. She put her whole life into her kids, and she was happy doing it. She was the movie-esque perfect mother who did everything for her kids. I knew I could do that for my own children, and I knew I was destined for it. Apart from the fact that we had just gotten married in 2010, I wanted to start having children as soon as possible. Society was telling me it was the logical next step, and my age was appropriate to responsibility take care of a child. We both had good jobs, this baby would have tremendously loving grandparents, and we had a beautiful home to raise them in with a backyard full of mature trees and cuddly dogs.

Painful periods were always just that; a monthly process of pushing through bloody underwear, dirty sheets, fainting spells and outrageous pain. But it was just that. Painful periods never crept into any other box in my life. It never insinuated surgery or infertility. The discussions with my doctor were always around birth control until we were ready to have kids. Until WE were ready to have kids. Not when my body was ready to have kids.

We tried getting pregnant very early on in our marriage. The first few months of negative pregnancy tests were chalked up as residual birth control. The next few months were chalked up to wrong timing of intercourse during the month. The next couple of months were chalked up to stress; the stress of it all. But as a year went by, and no sign of pregnancy I started worrying. I finally spoke to my family doctor about it, and he assured me that with more time he would be able to refer me to a fertility doctor. With begging and pleading, that time came. I saw a doctor at the Ottawa Fertility Clinic – a very reputable man with a lovely bedside manner. He did the usual blood work, and then some of the more rigorous tests. I showed to have a blocked fallopian tube which he fixed with the champagne method. I still remember the agony of that test. He also concluded that I had a very low egg count. But none of this would truly explain the infertility. The fact was with all roads pointing to endometriosis, I was in need of a surgery to officially diagnose me. His little test in a cup concluded he was of no threat to this process, this really was on me. My first surgery – an ablation – gave a positive finding for stage 3 endometriosis.

He and I split. Not for fertility reasons; reasons much more dramatic than that I suppose. But I went ahead with that ablation because I earned it. I was given three months of hope to get pregnant – something I knew secretly that I was not going to endeavour – but it also gave me three months of pain-free periods; a luxury at the time. Unbeknownst to me, the endometriosis would grow back silently.

In that time, I sold my house, left my job for a new one in Los Angeles, packed my bags and started a new life. I was blissfully happy and in turn, when I least expected it, I fell in love. Hard. And then my endometriosis came back behind the scenes. When Greg and I first started dating we had all the difficult discussions, including the ones about babies. In those years, feeling the endometriosis growing back, and still feeling the shock of negative pregnancy tests for almost a year and a half, it was an easy discussion: He would prefer not to have any more children at his age, and I would prefer not to put that kind of stress on my body. What I didn’t know at the time was that my endometriosis was going to fight back hard. A year into our relationship – as I just set foot back into Canada and in a new job in Vancouver (all alone) – my endometriosis came to life. No longer was I looking at pelvic pain during my periods, I was facing chronic pain, worsened by periods, and growth all the way up to my diaphragm. My body was telling me something. It was warning me that this was going to be an ongoing uphill battle. While excision surgery removed the endometriosis I was in need of another surgery two years later. And yet again, while I am being told that proper surgery will potentially remove the endometriosis for good, I made my decision.

I made my decision when I met the man of my dreams. I made my decision when I was diagnosed with severe ulcerative colitis in 2017. I made my decision when I had an ovarian suspension during my 2018 surgery. I made my decision when I was in chronic debilitating pain (for two years) that a lesser man would have left me for. I made my decision when I took Orilissa. I made my decision when we closed the cottage early as the cold weather put me into a flare. I made my decision as I lay on the OR table in 2020; being told the next surgery could very likely be a hysterectomy.

I made the decision that my body was not well enough to carry a baby. And I made the decision that having a perfect life – without a baby – was more important to me than struggling to get pregnant. I have been told by very close people in my life that I should adopt. And to that I say “for those of you who have been able to conceive – be it that you loved being pregnant or you hated it – you will never long for the ability to have a biological child. I do not need a child in my life; I long for the ability to carry a child in my belly. But it would be a risk to both me and the baby”.

So I chose not to have a child.

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