When I was 25 years old, my doctor sat me down with my latest ultrasound results in hand and said five words that fundamentally changed me…. You may never have kids.
It started with a routine checkup. In retrospect, when the lab technician asked if she could “take a closer look” by doing an internal exam, I should have clued in to something being off. But hey, I was 25 years old, just started dating a new guy and I really wasn’t all that comfortable with the whole procedure so I went along with it, no questions asked.
A few days later I was called in to see my doctor about my results. She informed me I had a Bicornuate Uterus. I won’t go into all the medical mumbo-jumbo but what it basically meant was that if I did ever get pregnant it was unclear whether or not I could carry a baby to term. I’d either be faced with early miscarriage, late miscarriage or early delivery. All things putting me into the high-risk category, again assuming I could even get pregnant.
I didn’t really have much to say and I think this concerned my doctor. She kept asking me if I understood what she was telling me but I didn’t have any questions and I didn’t feel any kind of immense sadness. I’m not sure what she was expecting but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t my indifference.
The truth is, in that moment I started to feel an immense weight lifted off me. Suddenly, all the expectations of marriage and kids that I had believed all my life were gone. Poof. I was free.
Don’t get me wrong, no one was particularity pressuring me to be any of those things. But society in general at the time (maybe still?) had a very strong expectation that women get married and have families. I should pick a career that fit those expectations. I should find the right man who could take care of us. I should always live close to my family. I went right along with all of that because that was the world I knew.
But suddenly, my world was different. If I wasn’t going to me a mother, what else could I be? If I wasn’t going to get the house and picket fence, what could my life look like? For me, the diagnosis opened up new doors I didn’t even know were right in front of me.
When I was 25 years old, I started to live my life for myself.
I continued to date the guy, even though he was three years younger and moving away soon, just because I liked him a lot and he was fun. There were no expectations. I quit my job because my boss was horrible and I didn’t need that abuse in my life. I had a choice. I eventually left my home town and went away to pursue a degree in a field I always wanted to because it didn’t matter how long it would take to establish myself. I had the time.
I wrote my Master’s thesis. I developed a successful, niche career for myself. I followed my passion and looked for opportunities that fit me. For the first time ever, I was living a life that was for me alone. Just me.
That guy I was telling you about? I married him.
One other thing. Eight years after my diagnosis, I delivered a healthy baby girl. She was a bit early and just a little thing but she came despite all the odds. Almost four years after that, her brother barrelled into the world as well. But those stories are for another day.
Live your life. Be you. Everything else will follow.