Happy Tiny Tuesday! Today's post is the first official Tiny Tuesday post of the new year and I am excited to start things off with a bang! If you're new to Fleurdille, every Tuesday is "Tiny Tuesday." Tiny Tuesdays feature children's clothing, motherhood tid bits, and anything and everything related to kiddos. You can expect to see a lot of "mommy and me" looks coming soon, but I wanted to start off our Tiny Tuesday posts this year a bit differently. Today we'll be talking about one of my most requested topics to cover - my hysterectomy.
If you've been following me on instagram for awhile now, then you've probably heard me mention every now and again that after Abby (our 2 year old) was born, I had to get a hysterectomy. At the time, I made a conscious decision to not talk about it in detail on the blog. The decision was not because I was scared or nervous to share such an intimate part of me with you. Rather, I wanted to keep certain parts of my life private. After being more vocal about my battle with endometriosis however and hearing how many of you right that same battle, I realized sharing my hysterectomy story could be beneficial. So, today I will be sharing all the details as to why I got a hysterectomy, how it was, and where I am today in this crazy journey.
WHAT IS A HYSTERECTOMY & WHAT DID I GET
To get us all on the same page, let me define or clear up what exactly a hysterectomy is. I feel like we all know that it's taking female parts out of the woman and rendering her inable to get pregnant, but do you know the exact definition? The three types of hysterectomies are listed below:
- subtotal hysterectomy - removal of the upper part of the uterus
- total hysterectomy - removal of the whole uterus + the cervix
- radical hysterectomy - removal of the whole uterus, the cervix, and the top part of the vagina (this is typically only done when cancer is present)
The type of hysterectomy I got was a total hysterectomy. The good news for me is that they were able to leave my ovaries, which is huge. Removal of your ovaries is what can cause your hormones to go out of whack. So, the fact that I got to keep mine was huge because I didn't have to go through any hormonal therapy or an adjustment period. I am hugely grateful for that fact!
WHY I GOT A HYSTERECTOMY
The "why" question is what a lot of you wanted me to talk about, and I totally get it! It feels super rare to hear of a 30 year old getting a hysterectomy. To be honest, I never thought I would get one. We had always talked about Trav getting a vasectomy when we were done having kids. My "why" however starts before Trav and I were married.
After graduating in 2008, I was diagnosed with endometriosis. It was a very welcomed diagnosis as it gave a cause and reason as to why I was feeling so much pain. Unfortunately with endometriosis, there is no cure. There are really 3 options - live with the pain, take medication to prevent you from ovulating (that's when you develop endometriosis), and/or have laproscopic surgery to remove the endometriosis. For a lot of women, simply taking medication can prolong or end the process of developing endometriosis. Medication however, didn't stop mine from developing. Lucky me.
I had two laproscopic surgeries prior to getting pregnant with Emma Grace. It was after my second surgery that my OB told me we would need to start trying to have kids ASAP because the likelihood of having kids was slim to none. We weren't at all ready to start trying, but our desire for family was stronger than our selfish desire to be travel the world sans kids. So, miracle of all miracles happened in the Fall of 2012 when we found out we were pregnant with sweet Emma Grace.
Once Emma Grace was born though, my pain came back in full force. Although I probably needed it, we opted not to have another surgery in between pregnancies. So, 2 years later, we had Abigail. It was after Abby's birth that we realized things were not good. I was in a lot of pain again and having excessive bleeding. So, I went in for my third laproscopic surgery hoping it would lend me a brief period of no pain. It did, but it was brief...real brief. Only a couple months later I was back to pain. This is when we decided to really think critically about what my life and battle with endometriosis would look going forward.
If I didn't get a hysterectomy, I would have a future of endless pain and endless laproscopic surgeries. This sounded awful. For one, I didn't want pain anymore. It was interfering with my intimacy with my husband and my everyday life. I also didn't want to continue having laproscopic surgeries at a rate of what seemed like at least once per year. I already have quite a few scars on my stomach and I didn't want my mid-section to end up looking like a battle zone. So, we decided to entertain the idea of getting a hysterectomy. For me, a hysterectomy was going to be one of the surest ways to eliminate my pain and endometriosis.
Another contributing factor was my births. My uterus didn't contract after either birth, which resulted in a significant loss of blood. After having Abby, we were told to wait a minimum of 5 years before trying to have another because they doubted my uterus could handle it.
HOW WE PROCESSED THE DECISION
After a lot of prayer and some very detailed conversations with my OB, we decided to have the hysterectomy. We knew it would come eventually, we just didn't think it would be at 30 years old. But, we knew I couldn't continue to live a life of pain and surgeries. We also knew that God had blessed us with two beautiful girls we didn't even know we would be able to have. This may come as a shock, but this decision was actually one of the easiest decisions for us to make in our marriage.
I don't have a lot to say about this specific part actually. It went a lot faster than my OB thought and it's considered a day surgery, so I was home before evening. It's really the recovery that gets ya...
RECOVERY & RELAPSE
Recovery is no joke for a hysterectomy. They told me prior to the surgery that you'll need to take about 6 weeks off from work. To me that seemed like a ridiculous amount of time, but my OB warned me that pushing it and trying to come back too soon would cause a relapse.
Thankfully, my sweet mom came to Dallas to watch the girls and take care of me while Trav worked. I cannot and will not ever be able to thank her enough for that. They tell you to expect to be bedridden for 1-2 weeks and it's pretty accurate. I couldn't get out of bed, sit up, or walk on my own for 2 weeks. I tried getting off heavy pain meds as quickly as I could because I don't do super well on them, and my mom was a huge help with that, too.
I think the hardest part about recovering is that your mind feels healthy and ready to go well before your body does. At the 2 week mark I started to entertain the idea of getting back into my normal routine and heading back to work, and by 4 weeks I was back at my normal life again (sans workouts). Miiiiiistake.
I remember distinctively when I relapsed (as I was warned against). It was Thanksgiving weekend and my family and Trav's family had gone to AT&T Stadium to watch our Baylor Bears play. I didn't take into account that we'd have to walk almost a mile from our parking lot to our seats. Epic fail. By the time we got to our seats I was in immense pain and couldn't even sit up straight. So, my mom and I left and I went back on bedrest for 2 days. Lordy.
WHERE I AM TODAY
I am almost pain-free. In my mind the hysterectomy was supposed to cure all of my pain, but that didn't happen to me. Through a series of specialists however, I have found out that I also have chronic inflammation on my connective tissue in that region. So, as of 2 months ago I have started to take an anti-inflammatory medication, given up caffeine, and started the process of switching my diet over to an anti-inflammatory diet. It's not easy, but it's helped tremendously.
WHERE I FIND MY IDENTITY
Since I am still pretty young, I get asked a lot when I'm going to have a third child. I am a pretty open book, so I usually answer truthfully by stating I've had a hysterectomy and so although we haven't ruled out adoption, I physically won't be having any more kids. The responses I get from people are mixed, but usually I get "oh, I'm so sorry." I totally get why people would be sad or feel sorry, but to me, there is nothing to be sorry about. Fortunately, my identity is not found in anything of this world. My identity is not found in the number of kids I have, in my ability to procreate, or in having all of my "woman parts." Rather, my identity is found in Christ alone. I am a treasured child of the most high God and I know that one day I will reside with Him in a place that knows no sorrow or pain. I know that every good and perfect gift is from above and my two girls are exactly that. They are perfect gifts from the Father.