Unmother’s Day: The day I had my uterus removed

And why I felt relief

At a glance

  • A good friend of mine once told me that at some point, I needed to move on. To decide what I wanted to do with my life, with or without a baby. I cannot just anchor my future on perhaps and maybes.


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Hope, a powerful thing. For a woman who was trying to conceive a child, hope was what kept me going for years. Whenever that time of the month was near, I would be filled with anticipation and excitement, hoping that it would be the day I would finally get to see those two pink lines on the pregnancy test. But what happens when that hope is finally taken away? When the dream of bearing a child in my womb becomes an impossibility? 

At age 39, I decided to have my uterus removed. My doctors told me that several of my uterine fibroids had grown too large and were causing the severe and continuous bleeding I’d been having for over a year. I received the diagnosis two years ago in May, the same month as Mother’s Day. 

I remember my surgeon repeating in heavily accented English what he had told my husband in Arabic. The doctor wanted me to understand that if I gave the go-ahead to have my uterus removed, there was no going back. Bearing a child naturally would never be an option again.

Thought you’d always be mine, mine

The difficulty of getting pregnant is now becoming more common, especially with more women marrying in their 30s and 40s. That, however, was not my case. In fact, I was probably one of the first ones among my group of friends to get married at age 25.

At that time, some people suspected that the reason I suddenly, some might even say stealthily, got married on a Cypriot island was because I was pregnant. But after years of not seeing a baby pop out, I guess the doubters were finally convinced it was just plain young, impetuous love. 

Being in our mid-20s, my husband and I were in no hurry to decide if we And why I felt relief wanted to have kids. We knew it was a massive responsibility, especially as we were living abroad, away from our families. I had a very demanding career as a television producer, always traveling, always on the go. I was also surrounded by friends who were mostly unmarried or childless so there was really no pressure to start a family.

At that time, I had always thought that having a baby was not something I should worry about yet. I rationalized that since I already had a husband, half of the equation was complete, and I had all the time in the world to decide whether or not to have a baby. At the back of my mind, I knew that if I ever wanted to have one, it would not be hard at all. 

Baby boy, you stay on my mind

It was not until I reached my early 30s when my twin sister gave birth to a beautiful baby boy that the clamor from all sides of the family started. Isn't it about time you had one? When are you going to have a baby? You’re running out of time! I cannot count how many times I had to endure those questions from well-meaning relatives and friends. Even strangers would not hesitate to ask me how come I didn’t have kids yet. 

Perhaps it was this constant barrage of unsolicited, sometimes invasive questions that finally got through me. While I was still not a hundred percent certain, I started seriously thinking about having a kid. After discussing it with my husband, it became one of the major reasons we decided to settle down in his home country, so we could try for a baby and be surrounded by his family as we raised a child. We were both 33 so easy peasy, or so we thought. Apparently, it was harder than it seemed.

My loneliness is killin' me

For four straight years, I would be at the OB-GYN clinic at least twice a week either with my husband or mother-inlaw, trying to decipher what my doctor who only spoke Arabic and French was saying. While it was an exciting process, it was equally draining and frustrating. The number of medications and tests I had to take, the numerous ultrasounds and procedures, and the constant disappointment every time we found out they didn’t work. It was becoming a chore, but we persisted.

I also had to deal with everyone around me asking if I was pregnant yet. The pressure and expectations were overwhelming. At one point, everyone just stopped asking. I eventually learned that my husband forbade his family to breathe a word about me getting pregnant to reduce my anxiety. 

There were so many “almost” that did not happen—babies that only lived inside me for a few weeks, maybe days. Sleepless nights coming up with baby names whenever I was positive that this time, it was going to work but it never did. It was heartbreaking. 

All right, stop, collaborate, and listen

The regular trips to the OB-GYN clinics stopped when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Not long after, I started experiencing extreme pain in my lower abdomen every time I had my period. I would also bleed for more than two weeks at a time, with only short breaks in between. Trying to conceive was nearly impossible.

When I finally got the opportunity to get checked again after almost two years, I was told that my uterus had multiple growths that needed to be removed. I had a choice to keep my uterus and just remove the several fibroids but I was warned it was a risk that could put my health in a more critical condition in the future. I eventually decided to have a hysterectomy, which meant I would never be able to carry my own child.

Carry on, carry on, as if nothing really matters

Trying—and failing—for a baby over and over again was like going through the five stages of grief multiple times, minus the last stage. There was denial, anger, bargaining, and depression but never acceptance. I guess there was always a small hope brewing inside me that maybe, just maybe, some kind of miracle would get me pregnant the next time around. 

A good friend of mine once told me that, at some point, I needed to move on. To decide what I wanted to do with my life, with or without a baby. I cannot just anchor my future on perhaps and maybes. It was not easy, because yes, hope is a powerful thing. 

But the day I had my uterus removed, even with the excruciating physical pain of the recovery, that small hope was replaced with a sense of relief and closure. I had never imagined that my ability to become a mother had to be physically taken away from me for that acceptance to finally start sinking in.

I would be lying if I said that I don’t feel a little squeeze in my heart every time Mother's Day comes around. When my loved ones greet me with “Happy Mother’s Day” for being a fur mom or being a good auntie, I know that they’re just trying to be thoughtful and kind. But I can’t help feeling awkward and would rather not be acknowledged at all. 

I am not a mother, but I am not a lesser person because of it.