It’s been a while since I’ve shared something really personal with you. Today, I will be just a little vulnerable. Please be gentle.
Disclaimer: This may not be a “One size fits all” kind of blog today.
Today’s post is inspired by yesterday’s appointment with my new gynecologist.
There are some things in life that I expect but can never get used to. In the mornings, I expect there to be traffic on my commute to work, but I can’t get used to it. I feel shocked and irritated about the traffic every single day. At this age (and weight) I expect to have occasional pain in my knees, but I don’t think I can (or want to) get used to that either. In the same manner, I expect most visits to my gynecologist to include the “Age vs. Fertility” conversation, and I’m still not used to it. Yesterday was exactly what I expected, but the way it stung was different from times past.
Yesterday, I took a chance on a new gynecologist. I won’t get into the actual factuals of the visit because they are private, but I will share some basics. In our conversation, I brought up the topic of birth control. When that topic hits the table, I know to brace myself for the “Age vs. Fertility” conversation as I have been enduring it since my early twenties. As predicted, the doctor asked my age (as if it was not listed in my chart), and followed up by reminding me of the risks associated with having children later in my thirties. When I appeared to be unbothered by her speech, she abruptly asked, “Are you even going to have children?” When I replied that I wasn’t very concerned about that at the moment because I was focusing on other things, she told me that I needed to develop a plan so that I didn’t wait six or seven years just to not be able to have them. She made me feel like my current set of goals were incomplete because it didn’t include dropping everything and getting pregnant.
Frustrated, I left her office with no solution to the real reason for my visit and bruises from her harsh words. Barely making it out of the office and down the elevator, I could feel the burn of hot tears welling in my eyes. I willed the automatic doors of the medical suite to open faster, and I hurriedly walked to my car. Once in the safety of my own privacy, I cried. No, I wept.
Visiting that doctor, who had despicable bedside manner, broke me down. She was rude, but beyond that, she was just saying what she was suppose to say…what medical science and society tells her to say. Leaving her office, I was hyper aware of societal standards that says a woman’s greatest worth is vested in her ability to carry and birth children. I started to include her ability to mother children, but sometimes women who mother an adopted child or a child of her heart aren’t as praised as the women who endure labor pains. There was so much that I wanted to yell at that doctor on behalf of childless women over thirty, but instead I posted this on my social media pages:
I knew there would be a myriad of responses, and they began pouring in almost immediately. “You still have time, girl.” “Adoption is always available and beautiful.” “Enjoy your life now, and have babies later.” I found myself being just as frustrated reading the responses to my post as I was when I sat in the doctor’s office. My point for the post wasn’t about whether or not I had time but that I have a choice. It’s up to me if I want to have kids or not, and if I don’t – by choice or force – I don’t want to be treated as if I missed the mark. That’s how I felt leaving that doctor…that I had somehow missed the mark. Forget all my accomplishments, my healthy relationships, my faith in God and how I build his kingdom, the number of people I reach through this blog or by other means, my business plans, or even the purpose that God has for me. In that moment I felt like all of that I could speak well of had been diminished because my uterus has been underutilized.
At 18 years old, after just moving out of my parents house for college, I discovered that I was pregnant. I can remember standing in my bathroom of my Crystal City apartment eagerly awaiting a result, praying that it would be negative. My silent prayers were interrupted by my outburst, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” My boyfriend left the living room where he and my roommate, Roxana, were anxiously waiting and joined me in the bathroom. I was pregnant. I laughed and cried because I didn’t know how to respond or what I was going to do. I carried my baby until 13 or 14 weeks, then I terminated my pregnancy. For years, no one knew except the few people who were in that room, and the guilt I carried was undetectable by anyone who saw my smile.
Let’s fast forward 12 years to a time where I am no longer captive to the guilt I once carried or haunted by the thoughts that God won’t let me have another chance at motherhood as punishment for what I did. I now live in a dispensation where I am making choices, and I realize I have a choice as to whether or not I want to have children biologically or otherwise. The possible decision to not have children has been a struggle in and of itself because for so long I was certain that I wanted to be a mother; now I am not. I have wrestled because I had an opportunity at motherhood and blew it because I wasn’t ready. I have also wrestled because there are always negative connotations attached to a childless woman. “What’s wrong with her?” “Maybe she’s barren.” “She’s being too selfish to have children.” And God forbid that you have a woman who is highly successful but doesn’t have children. “It’s a shame that she put her career above having a family.” “Success is nice but it won’t keep you warm at nice.” “Who is gonna take care of her when she gets old.” I am a 30 year old woman, approximately four months from my 31st birthday, and most of my high school classmates are mothers. There is pressure from every side to “settle down and make some babies,” and I hate it. It is the imperceptible notion that I haven’t reached my highest level of achievement yet because I haven’t birthed a child. I wish “society” and these doctors would take into account how a woman may feel before they start attacking us with the Age vs. Fertility conversations. Yesterday proved to me that this is more of a sensitive subject than I was aware of.
Women are so much more than their wombs. I guess that’s all I’m trying to say.
You are so much more than what you haven’t accomplished.
Nope, I didn’t use a scripture reference today. All will be well.
I know this blog was primarily my passionate rant about my womanhood beyond my womb, but I have a greater message.
There will always be people who make you feel like what you’ve accomplished still isn’t good enough. You have a high school diploma – it’s not a college degree. You get your Bachelor’s – it’s not your Master’s. They’ll say that’s basically the equivalent to a high school diploma. You go to tech school – that’s not real college. You work a good job – you’re a slave to a 9-5… You need to be an entrepreneur. You start your own business – you’re grinding alone, and it’s not enough people working together to put each other on. If you are single, people ask when you’ll get married. If you get married, people want to know when you’ll have a baby. If you have one baby, they will ask when you’ll have more. And if you have more than three children, the same people will ask when your going to stop. Do you see my point? You will never be able to measure up the fickle standards of others, so don’t!
After crying it out, talking it out, and sleeping it out, I had to pull myself together and give myself a pep talk. I am so much more than motherhood. If I choose or it is God’s will for me, then so be it. If it is not, then so be it. Regardless, I don’t have to make any decisions today! I am caring, loving, and giving. I am a survivor and a Class A overcomer. I have giftings and talents that have provided platforms for me to reach people, and they soon will bring me LOTS of tangible success. I am not just a woman who has a womb. I am a woman who is striving to have the heart of God and be a light on this earth.
Take what you can from this. You are more than what you haven’t accomplished. Pat yourself on the freaking back for making it as far as you have and doing all that you have done. You are on track. You are not late. You have value. And if you never accomplish that, you are doing just fine! I’m freaking proud of you. I’m proud of me.
I feel better now.
I hope this helps.