“You can never have children.”
The words sprung out of my gynecologist’s mouth as if she were preparing for the high dive. I could not face her. I looked down into the palms of my hands and veered my eyes against the floor. I remembered her telling me about her newly born infant daughter, and somehow I felt smaller. It was as if there was something wrong with me, as if I was defective or as if I had been mutated. I felt as if I had been disregarded. Like an old doll, worn with wear, her glass eyes not as shiny anymore. My gynecologist patted my shoulder, as she went to leave the room.
“Take all the time that you need.”
My lips curled up in a small smile, as if to make her feel better about the situation. I waited until the door closed and then I lifted my fragile body up, and walked over to the ex-rays that were still illuminated on the far wall. Cysts. Fourteen of them scattered throughout my uterus, like leaves that had fallen from a tree.
“Even if we burn them out, they will come back.”
I clutched my stomach. Turning, I began to dress. I carefully selected one article of clothing at a time, while my hands shook and my legs quivered. I gathered up my purse, gave a look to my ex-rays one last time, turned the knob to the door and exited. No one heard me begin to cry.
On the cab ride home, I held my hands together as if in prayer. My driver was talkative. She told me all about her husband and her children. I hardly said a word. When she stopped in front of my home, I set my money in her hand and told her to keep the change. I tipped her well. For her children. For the children that I would never have and for the dream that she had lent me for those thirty minutes. She smiled at me with her dark green eyes, her perfume smelling like butterscotch and her blonde hair blowing in the wind. I stepped out of the cab and surveyed the land. Home.
My boyfriend and I had been together for almost fifteen years. He had never showed in interest in having children. I had shared this view for only a few years, but as I grew older I began to want children desperately. Now, this news. My gynecologist’s mouth forming the letters.
“You might want to consider a hysterectomy to deal with the pain.”
Walking in the front door, my face as pale as a ghost.
“What happened? Are you alright?”
Sitting down onto the couch. My rescue dogs surrounding me, as if to comfort me in this my time of need. I hold my breath and then blurt out the words.
“I can’t have children. I have to have a hysterectomy.”
“Why? What happened.”
He took my hand.
“The pain and heavy bleeding that I am experiencing is coming from several cysts. They’re all over the place. I can never have children.”
“Can’t they remove them?”
“They’ll grow right back.”
My eyes filled with tears. I walked into my bedroom and undressed. I couldn’t figure out a way to help my mind come to peace with the situation. My dogs followed me. Me, their adoptive mother who feeds them, bathes them and gives them treats. I threw on an old sweatshirt and cuddled into bed. I dragged my laptop over to me and began to type. I had to get the words out onto paper. I had to remember what I had wanted. A little boy to call my own. I typed. I wrote about the reoccurring pain that I dealt with every month. The bleeding which became so bad at points that I had to go to the hospital. I wrote about why I should get a hysterectomy and why I shouldn’t, until it was obvious what I had to do and who I had to become. I picked up the phone and dialed my gynecologist’s number. My boyfriend held my hand as I scheduled the procedure. It would only last two hours, but soon I would be free. I would be a new woman. An independent woman, who knew that she was a mother to her pets, that she was a mother to her writing and that in the end she was a mother to herself.
The surgery lasts two hours.
As I woke, I could feel pressure on my bladder.
“Do you need to pee?”
The nurse offered her hand to me to get up and walk to the bathroom. I took it slowly and rolled out of bed.
“Did I keep my ovaries?”
“Yes, she would have only removed them if there was something wrong with them.”
I flushed and walked out.
“Good. You peed. That’s a good sign.”
I heard snoring and looked over into the corner of my room.
“How long has he been sitting there?”
“Your boyfriend? Oh for hours now.”
“He’s a good guy.”
“Yes, he seems to be. Would you like to walk around for a bit?”
I nodded my head.
“Yes, we’ve all been talking about you too. You know he never stops talking about you. You can tell that he really loves you.”
The nurse smiled and walked next to me, watching my progression.
“You’re doing well.”
“She is doing well.”
We heard my boyfriend shout out from down the hall. It was good to hear his voice.
“See, he loves you.”
My heart fluttered in my chest. I felt my cheeks turn beat red. As we came back into the hospital room, he helped me get back into bed.
“Are you cold?”
He pulled up the cotton sheets about my waist. His hand lingering on mine. I cuddled into the hospital bed and watched as he stood up, and placed a photograph of our dogs on my patient bulletin board.
“Soon, they’ll be wondering what happened to their mother.”
I whispered the word to myself, closed my eyes and fell deep asleep. I dreamed of my little boy with his brown hair and blue eyes, looking like my father and his father before him. I took his hand as he crossed the street as a child and when I let go, he was an adult passing into the fog and saying goodbye with a nod and a wave. I set the idea of him forth into the world-the dream of him-and let it go alone. I sent him off to school on the bus, after looking both ways to make sure that he would always be safe and then waved goodbye and blew him a kiss.
When I awoke, it was after . My boyfriend was still there, asleep at my side. I reached over and took his hand. I could feel his heartbeat in his wrist. I could feel it against my own heartbeat and I smiled.