Missing: One well-loved uterus.

mother kissing her baby

Clara and I when she was about eight months old.

On Monday, I kept myself busy. I did every stich of laundry in the house, went grocery shopping, and bought some junky “mom’s not here!”  snacks for the kids to eat while we’d be gone. I did the dishes, made a meal, and just attended to all the daily activities of my “normal” life, knowing that I won’t be seeing normal again for a while. It was a long day.

But Tuesday morning flew. Even though I checked in at the hospital an hour and a half before my surgery appointment, there was such a barrage of paperwork and forms, and new people to meet, and new information to register, that there was no time for thinking. Probably the strangest part was when the admitting nurse asked me for urine for a pregnancy test. My last pregnancy test.

I actually felt a little nervous while she dipped the stick, though there was virtually no chance of a positive result. Old associations die hard.

Before I knew it I had an IV and though, yes, I did shed a few tears while talking to the anesthesiologist, I barely had time to register the fact that oh-my-god-this-is-really-happening before I found myself getting loopy. I don’t even remember separating from Jon – one minute I was talking with him, and the next minute I was waking up in recovery.

Yesterday I dozed on and off most of the day, ate a light dinner and then devoted myself to my biggest pre-op priority: figuring out how to pee again so that I wouldn’t face a catheter. I spent a lot of time sitting in the bathroom waiting for my muscles and brain to get in sync again, which meant I had a lot of time to think.

And at some point it just occurred to me: I no longer have a uterus.

I can’t get pregnant again no matter how much I might want to (or, more likely in my case, do NOT want to.)

So, this kind of moment? Will never happen again. 

dad, mom and new baby

Thing is, I don’t particularly WANT this moment to happen again, sweet as it was but it’s one thing to make the choice and another to have the choice made for you.

But I’ve had a while to get used to the idea, and am feeling pretty good about the symbolic passing of what I call the “Mama years” – the milky, fuzzy, oh-so-challenging-but-somehow-sweetly-simple days of raising babies and small children. A time that I treasured, but have been mentally moving past for years. The hysterectomy marks an abrupt, no-going-back end.

In a way it’s freeing: I don’t ever have to worry about my heart and my head fighting it out when I see a delicious brand-new baby and think “hmmm…”. I don’t ever have to feel panicky when my period doesn’t come as expected. (Heck, I won’t even have a period!)

But, it’s a little sad too. My uterus played a huge role in my life over the last sixteen years. You could even say my uterus made me who I am today, because everything about who I am today ties into my identity as a mother.

It’s just an organ, but I’m a wee bit sorry to say farewell. She did her job and she did it well.

A few weeks ago, while I was processing all this, I wrote a guest post for Kelle Hampton’s blog all about the “mama” era, and the passing of that time of my life. It should be up on her site later today and I’ll link to it when it’s live.

[Ed: here’s the link to my guest post on Kelle’s blog – Goodbye, Mama]

In the meantime, I’ll be leaving the hospital at some point today (feeling surprisingly good, too! I’ll write more about the whole experience in a future post) and returning home to my big kids, our cozy home, the rich and full life we all live together and the adventures we will have as they all get older and become the people they are meant to be.

I’m not a baby-on-my-hip “mama” any longer, but being Mom in my home is rewarding and exciting in its own way. Time to turn the page on the “mama” chapter of my life, and fully embrace what’s next.

And after all these years of loving everything having to do with little babies, I’m feeling surprisingly ready.

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