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The Importance of Knowing 'I am Enough' Despite My Endometriosis

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I was never one of those young women who daydreamed about
being a mom. I never tried to envision what my future children would look like when I was 13, or made a list of baby names at age 15. It just wasn’t an important topic for me. It’s like when you start to read a book and it isn’t grabbing your attention, because you can’t make a mental picture of the characters, the environment or the plot. I just put the book back on the shelf and moved on. I thought about other “future” things.

Looking back now, after my years of struggles with
endometriosis pain, I sometimes wonder if I never envisioned that for myself because I was subconsciously scared of putting my pelvic floor through anymore trauma (haha). But seriously, I just never had a desire, a strong pull or a lifelong dream toward being a mother. But it’s funny how you can start to second guess yourself when something is threatened to be taken away from you.

I’ve been through four surgeries and countless pokes, proddings
and procedures related to my endometriosis in my 38 years of life. I’ve seen more doctors than I can count on two hands; I’ve tried acupuncture, pelvic floor physical therapy (or what my friend lovingly refers to as “vagina yoga”) and holistic healing. Basically what I’m saying is, I’ve put my body through a lot. I can’t lie when I say the thought of pregnancy, labor and childbirth…after all of that… is daunting. More than the excitement of the end result of a baby, I feel fear for my mental and physical health as the result of possible miscarriages, infertility, or more painful procedures and tests related to “geriatric pregnancy.” Being in constant fear of my body for such a large part of my life has made me rethink things the average person might just jump spontaneously into. Maybe that’s a good thing. But maybe I’m missing out.

Even after I married my husband I was still not “sold” on the idea of having a child. I love him so much and the idea of building a family with him is one that I’m quite keen on, but I always revert back to that ever-present fear. I worry that even if I could get pregnant and there were no complications, just a happy, healthy baby, would I even be a good mom? Would my endo pain come back and make it difficult to juggle everything that life throws in front of me while trying to raise an infant, a toddler, a teenager? This is what chronic pain does; it can take some of life’s greatest joys and turns them into cause for anxiety.

I soon turn 39, and as most women trying for children in their late 30s even without endo can attest, doctors paint a bleak
picture. There are a slew of “what if’s,” complications, possibilities and outcomes that come with a “later in life” pregnancy. Add a chronic illness that ravages your reproductive system and the picture gets bleaker. I go back and forth between wanting so badly to be fearless and wanting so badly to keep myself safe; stick to what I know; adopt a bunch of shelter dogs (puppies are
cute too!). It’s a delicate balance between trying to convince myself and everyone I know that I just don’t want children and thinking wait….do I really not?

What I’m trying to portray here is it’s OK that I still don’t
know, even if it’s close to the point of it being too late to still be indecisive. I know that if I change my mind but my body won’t allow it, I will have a full, happy and amazing life without children. I also know that if I wake up one day and know that it’s my calling to be a mother, I still can be. What I refuse to do in the process is give people a list of reasons why I may choose not to, or make others feel more comfortable by not referencing my illness. I try everyday to adopt the mantra of, “I am enough.”And I’m really trying to live that mantra to the fullest.

As women, we are all given different paths in life. Some of those paths lead us to having children and building families, some lead us to becoming successful and powerful executives of large companies or world travelers. Our worth does not begin and end with motherhood. Sometimes we all need a gentle reminder that no matter what, we are enough.

Photo credit: agsandrew/Getty Images

Originally published: October 31, 2019
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