It was five years ago this week (geez, time flies), when I was lying on an examining table in a bright white room and my curiosity got the better of me. If I lifted my head off the pillow a couple of inches, and turned to the right, I could just make out the big black void that appeared on the screen of the doctor’s monitor.
“What’s that?” I asked.
“That’s your uterus,” the doctor replied. Only that’s not what I heard. In my head I heard “That’s your big empty useless uterus.”
I really thought I was in a good place, that I was okay being the middle-aged childfree woman. I had steeled myself for a waiting room full of pregnant bellies (it was just me—whew!), I had prepared myself to oh-so-casually answer questions about my own pregnancies (none) and family plans (again, none). I was even hopeful that the exam would show the presence of a cyst (indeed, it did), which would explain some painful symptoms I had been experiencing earlier that year, thus giving my doctor the impetus to explore treatment options. All good.
But all the pretty thoughts seeped out of me as I was lying there, prone, and seeing The Void, and thinking the only thing my beautiful uterus was good for now—perhaps was ever good for—was producing freakish growths.
I am happy to report that subsequent surgery removed the benign cyst and I have been (knock on wood) in good health since. I am also happy to report that, over these last five years, I have made more progress on my journey to accepting my life without children.
Sometimes, though, I still feel the invisible scars. They live deep inside me, where they won’t appear on the most technologically advanced scans, and they occasionally twinge. I still feel The Void, the voids, and on those days, the best self-love medicine I can give myself is saying out loud: I’m still here.
Kathleen Guthrie Woods is mostly at peace with her childfree status.