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  • Writer's picture Miryam Van Horn

Beauty Beyond Hope

Thousands of women go thru infertility, endometriosis and hysterectomies every year. There stories are so often unheard. I wanted to share my story here as a way to offer a dialogue to those many, many women who struggle with infertility. Here is my story....

When I had my son at age 38, I had post-partum depression and didn't know it. It took me a couple years to figure out that my anxiety stemmed from post-partum depression. The thought of adding a second child to our trio was not on my biological radar. Still, my biological clock was ticking faster than I knew at the time.

When my son turned three the thought of trying for a second did pull on our heartstrings and so, we began trying. A year of trying without fruitful progress was making it very clear that this was going to be a difficult journey. Diagnosed with endometriosis at 37, I knew I had an uphill battle, but I also knew it wasn't impossible. After all, I was pregnant with my son only a month after been given the diagnosis.

We tried IVF, as many know that it is one step in this journey , but after a year of countless trips to the doctor's office, thousands of dollars in medical bills and a decline in our hopes to get pregnant, we sought out our next option. According to our fertilization specialist, our only hope was a surrogate. Even so, there was a very slim chance my body would produce a healthy egg. So we packed up our hopes for a second and moved forward with our family of three.

Many of my friends offered encouragement, support and prayers for us and it seemed it was not in the cards for us. Secretly though, I still had an ounce of hope left that somehow I would accidently become pregnant and all I needed in the end was just patience for God's will. Facing my 46th birthday this year I began to notice diffences in my menstrual cycle. I began to notice aches and pains and an exhaustion that would come out of no where. With the pandemic in full effect, the last place I wanted to step into was a doctor's office. But after experiencing more pelvic pain I knew I had to make that appointment to check things out.

I had been diagnosed with a tiny fibroid 10 years back and was told that it was so miniscule that there wasn't anything to worry about. After all, fibroids are common and according to the doctor it was best to simply keep an eye on it. To our surprise the"miniscule" fibroid had grown into the size of a tennis ball and was pushing onto my bladder and pressing my tummy outward making me look about 3 months pregnant. The solution according to my OBGYN was to have a procedure to take the fibroid out AND take out my uterus and fallopian tubes....a partial hysterectomy. (It was a partial hysterectomy since my ovaries would stay intact.) This was prefferable since that would mean I wouln't have to worry about hormone replacement therapy.

Instantly, I felt a deep loss and an emptiness where the last glimmer of hope lived. Weirdly, I felt a mourning for what I imagined was "a little bed" where my son once grew in my belly and my body nurtured him into a healthy baby boy. My one and only pregnancy was a beautiful and healthy journey. I was very blessed to have a smooth and flawless delivery as well. The news about this upcoming procedure made me realize what a sweet miracle and gift it was to have such a blessed journey into motherhood. Truly, my son was and is a miracle.

After weeks of tears and what felt like a mourning period, I began to accept that it was time to let go. It was time to let go of the hope and dream that once was in my heart. Although my husband had long accepted we would be a family of three, he had let me hold on to whatever hope I had with no judgement. As my 46th birthday approached and the holidays neared, I made the decision that I didn't want to deal with any of the recovery during these special family moments. (secretly, I still wanted to wear my Halloween costume and enjoy the fun alongside my son) I wanted to be free of physical pain and free to begin to heal from the emotional heartache and fill my heart with joy that the holidays were sure to bring.

Leading into my birthday, as a Scorpio could only do, I made all the plans to celebrate it. A dinner with my closest friends, a dinner with my husband, dinner as a family and a cake. One delicious black cake. Indeed right before the nurses took me into the operating room, I told my husband I had ordered my own birthday cake. It was a black buttercream filled with delicious dark chocolate, tiramisu cream and laced with coffee. I had purposely chosen black, symbolic of the mourning of my uterus. Oh yes I did.

Surprisingly, the recovery was swift and nearly painless. Once the anesthisia wore off, I only had to deal with soreness on and around my belly button. I was grateful to have my mother visit and stay with me to help with the odd and ends of the house and, of course, cook delicious dinners! But more than that, I was grateful to have her at the end of my uterus. Having her here flooded my mind with memories back to when I got my first period and how my mom was so caring and sweet. She took the day off from work and excused my abscence from school so that we could spend the day together. Apart from the obvious feminine product shopping I needed, we also shopped for beauty products - to my delight! I clearly remember enjoying lunch at my favorite -Chic-fil-A. It was a special day and one that has lived in my tresured moment of mom and daughter memories.

I always imagined that I would have moments like that with my own daughter one day. I planned on so many days like this. She lives now only in my day dreams. I don't think I'll ever let those daydreams go. Nevertheless, it was time to put the hope of having my own one day away. It's all part of the letting go. I am sure it will hit me at different times. I am sure that there will be moments when I'll feel a loss, but I am also sure that this is the beginning of a new chapter in my life. Perhaps God has something else in mind for me and I am determined to lean into it. I am determined to relish in my role as a mother to my nine year old. I am determined to indulge in every sweet moment as I watch him discover the world. I am determined to give all of myself and treasure all his childhood, before it too is gone.

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