I Feel Mad About My Uterus
I am 49 years old and think it’s time for my uterus to go.
You’ve served me well over the last 37 years. Actually, you’ve served me well twice. One daughter, one son. Thank you for providing the nurturing, safe environment they needed as they performed the miraculous acts of building organs, forming neurons, and preparing for life with me as their mother.
For those gifts I will be eternally grateful, but really: I think you’ve overstayed your welcome.
And by “overstayed,” I mean you are the biological equivalent of a messy, demanding houseguest. Why am I still dealing with cramps that feel like my innerds are being held in a chokehold, emotional swings that make me wonder why I am around all of these PEOPLE, and so much blood that a stranger might hear me shout, “oh, come on!” from the bathroom stall.
It’s time for you to go, and I think you know it. Which is why you’re being so DRAMATIC about it.
I don’t mean for you to be excised from my corpus – now who’s being dramatic? You can stay in your throne-like perch, the God between the ovaries that round out my reproductive trinity. But just please, stop. Just stop—doing stuff.
I guess it’s not just you. That is unfair. Those ovaries are the devil and angel on your shoulder, aren’t they? “Let’s pump out some amazing, life-affirming hormones that make her feel sexy and randy and young,” the left one says. To which the right one replies, “Okay, only if you promise that one day, a random day of my choosing, likely close to a major event in her life, I’m allowed to stop the tap, leaving her to feel like she’s worthless and sexless and make everything sag and dry up, just to prove it.
And a deal was struck. I imagine my uterus sitting there, ignorant to this dealmaking as she tends her garden in case this is the month, please oh please, that something will grow! She plays catcher for whatever the ovaries are able to spit out, which in all but two of my more than 400 menstrual cycles was a lonely spinster of an ovum. One little egg cell, destined to be nothing more. And it’s like she knows it? So that one egg ignites a hellfire circus on her way out. Drama, drama, drama.
I feel mad about my uterus because it really has more control over my life than it deserves. How many vacations have been upended by a surprise guest who wasn’t due for another week? How many times have I sat in a work meeting and felt the unmistakable dampness that leads you to say, “Oh God oh no” under your breath and hope no one heard, while also devising a way to be the last person to leave the meeting?
And then there are the times I’ve snapped at my kids; wanted sex really badly and then absolutely, not at all; canceled plans because I could not muster the emotional energy to overcome my hormone-fueled rage-sadness; or confused my poor husband so completely that he feared any word that came out of his mouth would be wrong, so he just stopped saying any, instead just nodding. A lot of nodding.
And now here we are, uterus, in this bookend to my reproductive years. Perimenopause. Everyone is talking about it. Everyone is saying how no one is talking about it. Everyone is saying that it’s the worst and women need more support through this midlife puberty, but no one is doing anything about it. Where are the sabbaticals for perimenopausal women? The meditation groups where we sit in circles and process the anger and frustration that oxytocin allowed us to suppress for so long, but that now is raging like an awakened volcano? Where is the sanctuary? When do we get a damn break?
When? I think it’s when you, my uterus, finally realize that it’s time to retire. Shut down. Tell your ovarian cohorts that they, too, need to take a long nap. Yes, I’m going to miss the days when they pumped out the good hormones that put the bounce in the boobs and the mojo in my jojo. But I’m also going to welcome a life that is not ruled by a 28-day cycle of highs and lows, happies and sads, euphoria and anger. I’m going to take an accounting of every sag that is sagging, every flab that is flabbing, wrap myself in cashmere and elastic-waist paints, and collapse into a future unencumbered by the job of procreation. Or the monthly reminder of it.
It’s so close, your goodbye. I can sense it sometimes, when I learn to only half-listen to the voices around me. When I decide to take a nap just because I want to. When I slow down and experience the moment, because I realize I haven’t actually looked up or around in a while, and there is much to behold.
It’s time, my old frenemy. Take a rest. And then, watch me do the same.