The Cleveland Clinic in the United States will begin doing highly experimental uterine transplants on ten women within the next few months. After a year, these women will be able to pursue IVF and potentially do what they were told they never could: Carry a pregnancy and have a child. Most of these deliveries will probably be done by C-section, but this is an amazing feat.
And the craziest part of all this? I am so overwhelmed by the news I have had several major meltdowns this week. Just four years and eleven months ago, I was told I had no hope of carrying a child, and I should stick to adoption as my plan for having a family. For four years and eleven months, I have struggled to accept the way I was born. Four years and eleven months have passed, and I can still remember every detail of that day. I remember how hard I cried. I remember how I curled up in a ball and shouted at the doctor, who was only doing her job to give me my diagnosis. I remember screeching and sobbing, rocking back and forth. I remember the first person I wanted to see. I remember the first person I told. I remember my parents crying. I remember the PITY. The stares from members of my family in the following months. I remember the looks of sadness, the looks that read loud and clear that everyone felt bad for me. I remember researching MRKH the week I was diagnosed and coming up with a 152 page medical journal that made absolutely no sense at all. Google knew nothing else. I remember hiding it from my friends and carrying tampons in my purse for a year pretending to be "normal". I remember that whenever my friends would carry on about their periods, I would laugh and make like I understood. I remember I became very good at playing pretend. I still spend hours upon hours, looking at maternity photos, seeing my friends post about their pregnancies and birth announcements. I sit with my hand on my lower stomach, wishing that those could be me. I puff my stomach out when I am bloated and play pretend that I am only 8-10 weeks pregnant and am just starting to show. I take pictures and giggle, then delete them and break down when reality strikes. I suffer through semi-regular "false pregnancies" when I go through moments that seem like "This could not be true, nobody could be born like this." I've held onto false hope that everything could be different, that maybe doctors are wrong. They make mistakes all the time, right? I remember when I told a few of my closest friends. I remember when one of them looked at me and said that she would have a baby for me, if I ever wanted her to. She didn't judge. She asked questions, and she supported me. I struggled to come to terms with my diagnosis for a long time.
Fast forward two years, and I again hit the internet to search about MRKH. I searched the hashtag on Twitter. And there came some friends. Sisters! I remember feeling embarrassed for searching, and shocked about how many girls out there were like me, just like me! Suddenly, my world got a bit smaller, and a whole lot brighter. I began writing my blog. I wrote and I wrote about my stress, about my options, about all the wonderful things I was learning about this syndrome, and about myself. I began sharing it on Twitter, to people who didn't know me in person. And slowly I expanded that to include everyone in my circle, both in real life and online.
Now, I can laugh my diagnosis off, joke about it, or I can sit at home alone and cry so hard my back aches. I chat regularly with sisters and participate in gift exchanges with them. I can read all the stories online about my sisters, their blogs, about Sweden doing transplants, and that is all fine and wonderful and a cause to celebrate. I can support this. I was determined to prove everyone wrong. Instead of looking at me with pity, I will be looked at with respect and admiration. I will be the little engine that could, chugging along regardless of circumstance to overcome every obstacle. I pushed myself to the limits.
And suddenly, my world crashes in again. Transplants are no longer international. They're on home turf. They're being done on MY continent. A few hours' flight away. I could apply. I am 21. I am healthy. And someday I could feel the things I've struggled to push aside, to have the dream I've always wanted, to feel a baby kick inside me, to watch my stomach and my body stretch and grow and change to accommodate them. I would have a pregnancy tracker on my Facebook, showing MY baby's growth inside of ME. I would put my hands on my belly and feel them kick, feel them respond to my body's movements and to the noises in the world around them. I could stop playing pretend, and have a "real family" as society expects. I cannot begin to explain the significance and the confusion of this news.
My definition of myself is no longer, "You cannot have this. This is impossible." Now, it has become "This could be possible. Do you want it? Could you try it?" And I sit here and wonder, could I do it? Could I chase my dream, my single, strongest passion? And be willing to change the way I am to do it? I was born without a uterus. I have been an advocate for myself and for many others for several years since my diagnosis. I have struggled to embrace my individuality, to believe that womanhood is not all about periods, pregnancy and childbirth. I have a "Strength of a Warrior" MRKH tattoo on my ribs, showcasing to the world that I am strong and independent, that my diagnosis does not make up who I am. I am strong. I am a warrior. And I am stuck. Do I chase what I always believed was my "ideal" life? Or do I continue on with my life accepting the way that I am, and embracing the incredible alternate methods of having a family? I've got a lovely surrogate who is an incredible woman and mother to her children. I have a supportive family who would go to all odds to help me regardless of what I choose. I've proven time and time again that I can overcome my struggles. And I have all my MRKH sisters behind me. So heaven help me, what way should I go?