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8 Ways I Coped With Having a Hysterectomy at 23

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Not having these body parts —uterus, ovaries and cervix — doesn’t make you less of a woman. Being unable to bear children doesn’t make you less of a woman. I know how hard it is to feel and realize this because I went through all of these feelings when I had my hysterectomy.

It seemed like everyone was pregnant or already had kids, and I was in my own little world of never being able to have children. People would say that I could adopt. Although well meaning, I still needed to process all of my feelings to be able to deal with not being able to ever become pregnant. It was a loss and something I had to grieve…and still grieve. We may overhear someone talking in a store about something to do with children that may make us upset. I hope you know that it’s OK to grieve this loss at any point in your life. Grieving is a necessary part of life and isn’t a straight line, and your feelings are valid. People don’t know what to say when something like this happens and I had to keep that in mind, too. I didn’t and still don’t want people to tip toe around me having a hysterectomy. It was hard, really hard and when I look back to when I had my hysterectomy in 2014, it was the darkest part of my life. I’m thankful for my family and friends who helped me get through all of the feelings I had.

Here are things that I have done/do to help me cope with my feelings:

  • I journaled most days (if not every day) about how I was feeling, what happened the day before, what I’m thankful for, etc.
  • I joined support groups on Facebook for people who have had hysterectomies, because I didn’t know anyone at the time who had a hysterectomy at my age.
  • I set boundaries for myself. For example, if I knew that I wouldn’t feel comfortable at a baby shower that I was invited to, I didn’t go. If it was for someone really close, I still got them a gift, but met up with them by myself before or after their baby shower
  • To help deal with the emotions and feelings that come along with the hysterectomy, I started to see a therapist in 2014 who I continue to see today.
  • A few months after I had my hysterectomy, I deleted social media accounts for a few weeks. It was too much for me to see pregnancy announcements and pictures of children.
  • I still listen to music all the time and find it helps me cope.
  • Between 2014-2017 my gynecologist didn’t deliver babies, so I didn’t have to sit in a waiting room with pregnant women and have that added reminder.
  • I read self-help books and wrote down Bible verses from books as a reminder. I still go back and reread Bible verses from the following books when I need to:
    • “Too Blessed to be Stressed” by Debora Coty
    • “Too Loved to be Lost” by Debora Coty
    • “The Next Happy: Let Go of the Life You Planned and Find a New Way Forward” by Tracey Cleantis
    • “An Invitation to Self-Care: Why Learning to Nurture Yourself is the Key to the Life You’ve Always Wanted, 7 Tips for Abundant Living” by Tracey Cleantis
    • “Stronger: How Hard Times Reveal God’s Greatest Power” by Perry Noble
    • “Overwhelmed: Winning the War against Worry” by Perry Noble
    • “Getting Through What You Can’t Get Over” by Anita Agers Brooks
    • “Live Original” by Sadie Robertson
    • “You’re Loved No Matter What” by Holly Gerth
    • “Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace in His Presence” by Sarah Young
    • “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend
    • “Beyond Boundaries” by Dr. John Townsend
    • “Safe People and Avoid Those That Aren’t” by Dr. Henry Cloud & Dr. John Townsend
    • “The Gifts of Imperfection” by Brene Brown
    • “The Best Yes” by Lysa Terkeurst
    • “Dear Woman” by Chavos Buycks
    • “Girl, Wash Your Face” by Rachel Hollis
    • “Girl, Stop Apologizing” by Rachel Hollis

Here are some journal entries from 2015 that were part of my coping process:

“I had to make the decision to have a hysterectomy for my own health and safety, but that did not make it any easier to deal with. I knew my chances of having kids was slim before my surgery, but now I will never know if I could have had children since I never tried. I felt like I had to make a choice between having kids or going to pharmacy school and I chose pharmacy school, but still could not finish pharmacy school even though I could not have kids now.”

“Having to choose to have a hysterectomy at the young age of 23 is depressing enough, but having to explain this every time I go to a new doctor is a horrible experience each time. I have had nurses tell me that I am too young to be going through this. I do not need this constant reminder that I will never be able to get pregnant and will be missing out on that experience.”

I still have to remind nurses at my current doctor that I’ve had a hysterectomy when they ask when my last period was. Can’t they read my chart and see I’ve had a hysterectomy without asking every time?

I always wanted to have children and it’s something that I still struggle with, but I keep in my mind that there’s another purpose for me and practice these coping mechanisms when I see that I need them.

Five years later, I’m in a better place than I was when I first had my hysterectomy. I know it’s what my body needed (everyone is different). I go to baby showers. I’m there when children are born and I babysit. I can still be happy for someone else and sad for me at the same time. Growing up, everyone always told me that I would make a great mom because of how I am with children. I have been around children all of my life because one of my grandmother’s was a full-time babysitter and I became an aunt at 8 years old. I get on the child’s level and play with them. Even now people tell me that (they may not know that I can’t have children) and I don’t let it bother me because one day I may be able to adopt and be a mother.

Is there something you do to cope that I didn’t mention? Leave a comment below and let us know.

I hope you find this information helpful. Know you are not alone. Sending you hugs and love.

Take care.

Photo credit: fruttipics/Getty Images

Originally published: November 9, 2019
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