Feeling unheard is disheartening, particularly when it is by those who’s job it is to hear and assist you. Since the age of twenty-one, three months after the birth of my second child and immediately following the application of the intrauterine device, I've dealt with abiding health concerns. I wonder if every doctor I sought out didn’t take my concerns seriously because of my age? My youth may have given the illusion I was inexperienced or even attention-seeking with my descriptions of how I was feeling. To be sure, I urged them to consider otherwise. I needed to be heard, seen and alleviated, and after three years of battling, someone finally heard me, saw me and did everything in his power to help me.
My diagnoses: High-grade abnormal cervical cells and chronic acute pelvic inflammatory disease, causing severe endometriosis and an iron level of two due to my body’s inability to regulate. The words “you are going to need a total abdominal hysterectomy” are forever etched in my mind. It is a devastating blow to any woman – the loss of such an honouring ability. At the time, though, it wasn't as devastating as most would think. I was all-consumed with being free of these health issues rendering me exhausted, irritable and depressed. A future with these burdens would be a grim one at best, with no relief in sight and already experiencing what one doctor called a “chemical pregnancy”. I had to view this as nothing more than an opportunity to close the door on these burdens, but in retrospect, I couldn't have possibly grasped the value of what I'd have to sacrifice - something I'd likely grieve the rest of my days.
The day of my surgery arrived quickly. I sat in the pre-op room, being pep-talked and prodded with needles, while trying to calm my eager spirit. I remember saying to myself “giving the children you have a healthy mother outweighs giving them more siblings and remaining this way.” Soon after, my nurse entered the room to bring something to my attention. I braced myself, preparing to hear my irregularity caused my iron to be too low to preform surgery safely, and I'd have to wait. That would have been easy to accept compared to the news I actually received – the news I’ve yet been able to fully comprehend. She told me what I thought was simply irregularity, was in-fact much more. “You are having a miscarriage, dear.” Aside from the rapid, painful pounding in my chest, everything went silent and I felt like I was suffocating. I wanted to scream, tear the I.V. from my arm and run to my husband; however, I was alone and my only option was to pull myself together. But how? On the day I was to become barren, I was loosing a baby I was unknowingly carrying. “Emily? … Emily?” And I was brought back to reality. “What will I be telling the Doctor we will be doing?” I looked up at her, tears on my cheeks, and replied “well, I guess that confirms it then. I still have all of the health problems I came here with, and a uterus that can't carry a baby, so why keep it?” She left to inform the doctor we would be continuing as planned.
For months following the surgery, I was content with my reality. Becoming well felt revitalizing. I could play with my children, I had energy and it was as if I was finding myself again - the parts of me that had lost their vibrancy through the dulling hinderances my health problems presented. One-by-one, as a result of this newfound passion for life, aspects began to fall into place – bringing fourth a flame in my marriage that had become merely embers. At nineteen and twenty-two, my husband and I hastily married. The first five years of our marriage consisted of a whirlwind of events, resulting in our passion and pursuit for one-another ranking in low on our list of priorities. However, this now-burning flame brought with it another, one I thought I had escaped the flames of. But like the first few years of my marriage, the flame of desire to carry life within me hadn't fully extinguished, even through times
I was convinced it had. The burning embers that remained were now receiving the oxygen needed to flare-up and tear through me.
My husband and I really know each other. We are truly happy, and are deeply in love - three gravely important things we couldn’t say about our relationship through the first five years of our marriage and our pregnancies. These realizations lead me to wonder what it would be like to experience a pregnancy and birth in this security; to actually try and conceive, to feel the overwhelming emotions together when beholding those two pink lines on a test. Crying those tears of joy and knowing even through the uncertainties pregnancy and life in general may bring, I could rest in the conviction of remaining hand-in-hand with my partner. The mutuality of these feelings brings me comfort, but also a hefty sense of guilt, being the one unable to make this dream of ours a reality. But, he reassures me and challenges me to stop and observe all we already possess – our divine, God-given reality.
For as long as I can remember, my Creator instilled in me the desire to be a mother and, in His timing, I became one. Were we ready for this profound responsibility? Some might think no, but I believe our Makers plans were, and are, far above our own. If we had waited until we thought our marriage possessed the strength required for the journey of parenthood, my illness would have kept us from knowing and raising the two beautiful souls we have today. I may be unable to create and bring more children into this world for us to raise and our children to call siblings, but what I am able to do is equally as rewarding. I am able to vibrantly live a life of health, love and joy, with my husband and the two incredible children God graciously allowed us to call our own, for that, I am eternally grateful.
Journalist: Emily Earle