Can You Be Mentally Prepared For a Hysterectomy?

mentally prepared for hysterectomy

My wife and I thought we were finished having children. Our first go-round, we’d struggled a bit. I use the term struggled loosely because we didn’t have to endure any infertility treatments or anything of the sort.

It had basically just taken a couple of years on our own. Probably because of the endometriosis, but we didn’t know that beast was lurking at that point. So, we forged onward.

But, anyway, like I said, after our son – we were done.

Or we thought.

Fast forward five years and an excision surgery for endometriosis, a return of endometrial implants all over, and we were discussing hysterectomy.

At first though, personally, I was like hell yesif this can end most of her pain and give her some semblance of a normal life – let’s go for it.

“…but, do we want more kids?”

That first answer a few years ago was NO, but now my heart said something different. My heart didn’t really agree with the NO.

My heart wanted more kids.

But We Were So Sure We Only Wanted One Child

“But, we were so sure we only wanted one…are we only second guessing this because we’re now faced with the reality of having no choice at all?”

It’s a fair question, but coming up on two years since this all went down, I can say the answer to that question is a resounding NO. We weren’t just wanting more now that we were faced with the reality of having no choice.

We did want more children. Still do. Every day I do.

In fact, the only reason we decided we didn’t want more children was because at the time we talked about trying again, we were going through one of the craziest financial hardships in the history of the U.S.

Plus, we were going through an IRS audit, our marriage was suffering, we had just moved to a new city, career changes abound…we were trying to figure out how to raise this new thing we were calling Howie.

Line up almost every single family or marital stressor you can imagine and in the span of 1-3 years, we had experienced it.

Of course we didn’t think another child was a good idea. Of course we didn’t think it was the right time.

Because there is no right time.

Tell Me I’m Not Alone

I started thinking about this recently for two reasons. One, because it is National Hysterectomy Awareness month and two, because a question was posted for the group on our Braave facebook page by Teresa.

“…4 Words, after having a hysterectomy, can make you crumble in a matter of seconds. “We’re having a baby.” It’s a time in one’s life where everyone should be supportive. But, some of us just wish we had a cave to crawl into. A place where we could cry until the tears stopped flowing.

I came from a large family. On my mother’s side alone, I had 21 first cousins. I couldn’t celebrate with them. I just couldn’t. I still wanted to have more babies. I wasn’t mentally prepared to give those life experiences up.

Please tell me I’m not alone.

Did you cringe at the thought of attending a family member or friend’s baby shower? It took me at least 2 years to build up the strength to attend a baby shower or even to go to the hospital when we had a newborn in the family. What did you do? How did you overcome this feeling? I’ve managed to get over these feelings, but wanted to ask for our younger members…”

You’re Not Alone

Teresa, I’m not a woman and I do not know what the maternal instinct is like, but from a Father’s perspective, I can tell you that you are indeed NOT alone.

I can also speak for my wife and Braave founder Shawnda McNeal…and say that she felt and continues to feel the same things you listed.

We talk a lot about triggers like the ones mentioned above. When a young couple talks of a new baby or even when we see mention in a movie. Or our son says he wishes he had a baby brother or sister.

In those moments, I’ll choke up a little and look over at Shawnda. Typically, she’s already let loose a tear.

Kills me. 

Before the hysterectomy, I remember reading some things about being mentally prepared, getting your mind right beforehand, about understanding what is about to happen.

Honestly, I don’t think that is possible.

For some, maybe. But, I’d still argue that deep down inside they feel the same way. They still feel lost about it at times.

Should You Get A Hysterectomy?

My wife and I focus on having no regrets in our lives. Even though we wish we would’ve tried for another child, even though some days the early onset of menopause is dragging her soul away, she wouldn’t change a thing about her decision to have a hysterectomy.

Never one to speak for her, I went ahead and texted her…she responded:

“It sucks, but I was desperate. I spent a lot of dark hours figuring out my final decision…”

So, should you get a hysterectomy? It’s a question we’re often asked and there is no one solid answer for everyone. For Shawnda, the answer was yes. She needed relief and she felt the risk would be worth it. For other women we’ve talked to, the hysterectomy didn’t solve much at all. In fact, Roxanne, our first Endo Battle Story sharer was a case for this.

Can you be mentally prepared for a hysterectomy? I think the answer to this is no, but it leans closer to sort of.

Here’s what I mean: if you understand that a hysterectomy is not a cure for endometriosis, that it still is a bit of a roll of the dice, and if you can wrap your arms around the changes that will begin to take shape within your body and be ok with what that means, you can at least get about a quarter of the way there.

The other three-quarters comes in wrestling with the fact that you’ll no longer be able to carry a child. Just like Teresa mentions above. Plus, actually dealing with the body changes that happen day-to-day.

Speaking from experience on the child part, that’s been the toughest part to swallow. Rips us to shreds some days.

Obviously, I can’t speak from experience on the body changes part. I just know what I’ve seen and I’ve seen Shawnda struggle hard some days.

It kills me.

We Still Have Each Other

Hopefully we can all take solace in the fact that we still have each other. And cheesy or not, I’m being as genuine as possible when I say that is why we started Braave.

To build a 360 degree base of support for the woman with endometriosis. If you’re having a tough time, contact us or join us over on Facebook.com/braave – we’re always here to listen and help.

Comments

  1. Teresa T. says

    Thank you, Shawna and Dave. I’m not sure I’ll ever get over the fact I can no longer have children, but I’m learning to deal with it, day by day. It takes a lot of time and so much patience, with myself and others. <3

  2. mlw says

    so: i’d suffered with uterine fibroids for years and had concluded i’d never be able to have kids. then, *surprise* i found myself pregnant! i’d just moved to a (huge) new city less than a year before, and i was no longer with the co-procreator, but at 32, i resolved that this might be my only chance. that christmas…behold: a tiny angel boy, baby k. he has changed my attitude, outlook, priorities, and lifestyle in so many positive ways. i often say that he saved me from myself. nonetheless, i didn’t feel any urge to rush out to provide him with siblings. i decided: this is my chance to make a mark on this world, guide a little someone toward being a decent, kind, honest, respectful, and responsible person–all the while being reminded every day to exhibit those qualities by example. i felt i had *just* enough energy, time, emotions, patience, and *money* to accept the challenge. (and, for the most part, i think we’ve managed pretty well.;)
    as he got older, i was still plagued with the fibroids. my periods were excruciatingly painful and so heavy that i was extremely anemic (and consequently super tired. all. the. time.) after taking iron supplements and a cycle of lupron, i decided i wanted to have a hysterectomy. my then-gyn tried to dissuade me: “you’re so young” (36) “what if you meet someone?” meanwhile, my pcp is like, “dude. the normal hemoglobin range is 13-18, and you’re at 5. if your gyn won’t do the hysterectomy, i’ll find someone who will.” and she did.
    i made peace with it. i was ready to feel better. i had my one tiny angel, and i was good. had the procedure on dec. 23 and was *supposed* to be home by Christmas. then: complications (hernia, blocked intestine, etc.) ensued, and i came home just in time to ring in the new year. that day, my cousin and first friend called to (hesitantly) tell me she was pregnant. she’d waited to make the announcement because she thought it might be “difficult” for me. at the time, i thought, wow…way to overthink things. but as the finality set in, i started to wonder about it myself. i can honestly say that the increase in energy, improvements in the quality of…um…grownup time, and the complete absence of lady time have been immeasurably wonderful.
    and then…along comes a boy. not just A boy, but possibly The Boy. he is sweet and honest and sensitive and hard-working and: he’s never had kids. what the freaking what?! seriously? 2–TWO–months after my surgery. fml.
    he met my little k easter weekend. they got along great: talked, tossed a football, made plans for summer. and ever since then, I envision the first gyn shaking her finger saying, “i told you that you might meet someone…” damnitalltofuckinghell.
    every day, i think about what a great dad he’d be. and i just hope his (future) time with my son will be sufficient. i struggle regularly with the notion that i decided too soon, acted too quickly, and should have waited on the hysterectomy. but i remind myself that i could have just as easily decided not to have my son (the circumstances were less than desirable, to say the least). hopefully, this situation will work out well, too.;)

      • mlw says

        i didn’t actually answer the question, though. I don’t know that you ever be “prepared,” but i think you can *prepare* for it and anticipate the emotions that will inevitably result. being open to good docs, good meds, rest/quiet time/solitude/yoga/etc helps immensely!

        • Teresa T. says

          As silly as it may sound, my most relaxing pastime is coloring. (I have always loved to color…)
          That, and singing.
          We’ll all figure out what works eventually.
          Just knowing we aren’t alone is absolutely reassuring for me, although I’d never wish it on anyone.

  3. Michaleen says

    Hi …. prayers answered with this post. Tuesday I was told I needed a hysterectomy. I’m not sure!

    Would love to see more on alternatives.
    Thanks