The Best Gift I Ever Gave Myself Is Not What You’d Think

Nope, the gift wasn’t a vacation, a fancy purse, flowers, or jewelry. It wasn’t even therapy.

It was a surgery. A surgery I had to fight tooth and nail for – with six different doctors to be exact!

For my entire post-period life, I struggled with severe period pains and cramps. At some point, I was diagnosed with endometriosis, as well as a tilted uterus. It was so bad, I had to take many days off of work and/or school to lie in bed or on the couch. I would stay curled in the fetal position, with my heating pad and ibuprofen in hand. I tried what felt like every birth control on the planet. They either didn’t help with the pain, and/or gave me bad side-effects. So much of my life, it seemed, had been taken away because of the big, red curse that I experienced every 28 days. I was even having pain between periods! 

SO, I have KNOWN, since I was 11 years old, that as soon as I was done having babies, I wanted my uterus out! What I didn’t know was how hard that would be, and how many doctors I would have to consult with, for something that should have been 100% MY CHOICE. 

The first doctor I consulted with was my OB at the time. This was when my husband and I were trying for our last child. This doctor was no longer delivering babies, and was now focused on surgery and general women’s care. I told her my plans to have my final baby and return to her to continue care and finally get the hysterectomy I so desperately wanted and needed. Before I could even get my plans out, she cut me off with, “That’s the last thing you want to do.” It came out harsh, and I had no words. It was one of the few times in my life that I was speechless. I left her office with no intention of ever coming back.

The next doctor was the woman who delivered my second and last child. At one of my post-partum appointments, I brought up the subject of getting a hysterectomy. I repeated my medical history and my desire not to have any more children. She looked at me calmly, and said, “I do not feel comfortable with that. You are only 28, and will most likely change your mind about having more children.” Given that this woman had a handful of children herself, this wasn’t necessarily shocking. Also, knowing that the “Your experience is not mine” argument wouldn’t do any good, I left and never returned.

Over the next few years, I tried a new OB each year for my annual appointment to get a feel for whether or not they would help me. These were some of the responses I recieved:

We won’t sterilize a woman your age and/or with only two children.

Does your husband not want anymore children? What does HE have to say about this?

You will regret that decision in a few years.

How about we try some other forms of birth control? 

BUT getting your tubes tied is less permanent. You will probably change your mind down the road anyway…..

Note: my husband received a vasectomy during this time (we DID NOT want more kids) and he only had to see one doctor. He was not questioned, nor was my permission or opinion needed to get it.

At 32, I was defeated and fed up. I asked social media for recommendations for an OB that would take me seriously and give me the hysterectomy I so desperately wanted and needed. I took a recommendation from a friend who had had the procedure (and had ZERO kids!) and made my next annual appointment.

When I arrived at my appointment, I was introduced to the best, most compassionate doctor I have ever met in my life. I told her all about my issues and my experiences with previous doctors. She listened intently, took so many notes, and then asked me what I WANTED to do, so I told her. Then she said, “It seems that you know exactly what you want. You’re an ADULT and I trust you to make your own decision. I doubt anyone questioned your husband’s vasectomy and I’m not going to question you.” It was all I could do not to hug her. I made my surgery appointment that day. My monster of a uterus couldn’t come out fast enough. 

A few weeks later, I had my uterus removed.

At 32, I was relieved, and 20+ years of pain and agony almost entirely went away. It’s been a few years, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not grateful to be rid of that burden. I still have some pain in my ovaries, and those will probably go next, but my quality of life has significantly improved with the main culprit being removed. I’m happy, my husband is happy, and I STILL don’t want any more children. Getting a hysterectomy was the BEST decision I could have ever made for myself.

I know these are sensitive times, and I will not share my political views. I will leave with this though…….we need to trust all uterus-owning people, especially when it comes to family planning and their own mental and physical health. I could have been saved years of physical and mental pain, if only my doctors would have taken me seriously and treated me like the adult I am.

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Natalie Commander
Natalie is a native Oklahoman, born and raised! She married her husband, Cody, in 2012, and they have two human daughters and two dog sons. She is a former teacher, and now helps her husband around his counseling practice. She has a B.A.Ed. in English Ed, and a M.A. in Literature, both from UCO. When she isn't running around her two daughters to their MANY activities, she enjoys reading, writing, upcycling old furniture, vacationing, being the most obnoxious cheer mom she can be, snacking, and trying to control her sarcasm and RBF.


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