[Pt. 2] Childfree By Chance
Updated: Jun 24, 2019
Many issues finally led to the decision of me becoming #childfree. See how my fibroids and the complexity of the adoption process led me farther down this path.
My Early 30s (aka The Fibroid That Wouldn’t Die)
When I was 30, I had my gallbladder removed. During that surgery, the doctors discovered a grapefruit-sized fibroid on the top of my uterus. A fibroid is a non-cancerous growth that grows in or around the uterus. The growths are made up of muscle and fibrous tissue. No one seemed concerned that I had a fibroid...they just wanted to let me know.
By the time I was 31, I was engaged to a lovely guy named Paul. Around this time, we discovered the fibroid had grown to the size of a 6-month pregnancy. Usually, fibroid tumors can go undetected in a woman her entire life, especially if she has many little fibroid tumors that are in just the right places. For me, my fibroid was a fundal fibroid, meaning it was growing smack dab on top of my uterus, pressing down on my organs, making my periods super painful. It felt like someone was constantly stabbing me in my gut. It was awful. After an MRI, I could see that my bladder was a straight line--flattened to a pancake--which would explain why I had to pee every 20-minutes.
To solve this issue quickly and with minimal healing time, I chose to have a minimally-invasive surgery called uterine fibroid embolization (UFE), where surgeons placed a tube through a vein in my wrist and traveled down to my uterus, where they deposited microscopic particles into each artery attached to the fibroid. These particles blocked all blood flow to the fibroid, ultimately killing it, and causing it to shrink. During this process, as the fibroid died, I had many contractions as if I was going through labor and my body would “birth” pieces of fibroid. It was both awesome and creepy. I was fascinated by how my body knew exactly what to do--and was excited to feel what a contraction was like, since I probably would never have one because of a baby. Within four months, the fibroid shrunk down to 5cm (that’s about two-inches) and I was told that’s probably as small as it would get.
The doctors were right.
There’s a 10% chance a fibroid will grow back after UFE. Being the overachiever that I’ve always been, after about two years, my fibroid grew back. I was devastated. Three different doctors told me hysterectomy was the way to go. But I couldn’t mentally wrap my head around it...a hysterectomy at my age? It took many months of second, third, and fourth opinions. I finally found a surgeon who agreed to do a myomectomy--a surgery that would remove only the fibroid. She told me that although pregnancy might be possible afterward, I would probably need help with IVF, and would definitely need a C-section because of how they would have to cut me open to get the fibroid out (even doing this laparoscopically, there would still be a medium-length smile-shaped scar above my pubis that would prevent my muscles from properly contracting later on, unable to do a natural birth).
With all of the scarring left in my uterus, the placenta would most likely stick to the inside wall of my uterus, making me a high-risk pregnancy. (As if my uterus being call “geriatric” after the age of 35 wasn’t bad enough.)
After the Surgery (aka Let’s Have a Baby!)
Okay, so I had checked my #lifegoal boxes: Career? Check. Life Partner? Check. Dogs? Check. Baby? Ummm….
My husband was on the fence. We had been looking into adoption agencies for quite some time, speaking to over 100 different ones--state run, out-of-state, lawyer-based agencies, etc. I even got to sit down with some very generous adoptive-moms who were willing to share their adoption stories with me.
I was all-in, ready to sign up. It was going to be a bumpy road, filled with ups and downs and lawyers fees and social workers, but I was willing to do it. Paul, on the other hand, didn’t like the idea that we had to go to the police station and register our fingerprints. He didn’t even want a Facebook account. He also didn’t like that we would need a social worker visit to approve of our home, and by state law, had to set up our house as if a baby already lived there. They wanted smoke detectors in every room, a fire extinguisher on every floor. They wanted the baby’s room set up, a non-expired car seat in your car (did you know car seats expire??? I had no idea!), and they wanted your entire house baby-proofed.
So every day we would’ve had to walk by an empty baby room filled with baby things. Every time we wanted to plug something into an outlet or use the toilet or open a cabinet, we’d have to struggle in frustration to unlatch the baby-proofing mechanism while silently screaming why can’t I open the damn cabinet?! and why don’t I have a damn baby?!
I kept filling Paul in on the details of the next steps to adoption, eager to get things moving. I was 35, and it can take about five years to get a child. That would make me 40...and my hips already clicked each time I stood up or sat down, and my left shoulder hurt each time it rained. I was feeling old. I wanted to be able to chance after my children with excitement and no hunched over in exhaustion. But no matter how many times I brought it up, Paul had a different excuse:
Let’s wait until we have enough money.
Let’s wait until we get a puppy.
Let’s wait until the puppy is one year old.
Let’s wait until we buy a house.
Let’s wait until my business is more stable.
Let’s wait until you’re more stable.
A couple months before my 36th birthday, I found out my fibroid grew back. Again, there had only been an 11% chance of this happening, and I beat the odds.
Less than a year after the surgery, it was half its original size. My new OBGYN did more tests and confirmed that having a baby was not possible without an egg donor and lots of hormones. Adoption was the best way to go.
I got home and put a line in the sand, asking Paul for a straight answer. I’d been trying to get Paul to sign up for adoption for four years. I was tired of the excuses.
I needed to know: Would he ever want kids?
There was a long silence.
Tears fell down my face.
I think I stopped breathing.
Paul said no.
He didn’t want kids.
He probably never would.