Cobwebs and Scartissue (Graphic Photo, warning) - How I Became Barren and Battered
“Hold fast to dreams, For if dreams die, Life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly, Hold fast to dreams, For if dreams go, Life is a barren field, Frozen with snow”
This photo was taken today. I have been thinking about the visual aspects of my barren, cobwebbed and scartissued body and I am sure some of you are thinking, "how did she get here?"
WARNING: Very graphic photo. If you don't like seeing massive scarring don't look at this entry. Also, though I am skinny as a rail, I'm flabby as heck. No six pack here.
This Barren Skin by a band called Funeral
The DH told me that he no longer sees the scars. I don't either. Well, sometimes I do. Especially the "fake belly button".
That "fake belly button" was created by my doc and it was actually the hospital stay in which I met my late BFF Kathy V. She had less of a scar than me. I've been cut in half (you can't see how far down, nor how high up) twice. The second time I lost the belly button. I have been cut hipbone to hipbone in both those surgeries. I have had about 10 laparotomies. At least 10 Laparoscopies (for infections and cysts and the like, scar tissue etc.). I've had a lumpectomy, a discectomy post right nephrectomy (losing my right kidney, they cut my ribs out to remove it and unfortunately damaged my spine so I had to have surgery to fix the problem).
My entire body is covered with massive amounts of scarring. I haven't worn a bikini since the first time I was cut in two.
But this is the body of barrenness. So if you ever were moved to help a family who is unable to have children... well, I guess I am the poster girl for the barren, scarred physically (yet, somehow, not emotionally, probably because I was so young when I became barren). Some women are barren like me with no scars but my body bears the scars of the loss of my twin daughters, Isa and Dom.
How did I get here? How did I finally become a mom at nearing the age of 46 years old?
And why am I barren? How does it affect me?
If you read the oldest posts you will see that we were blessed (and deliberately chose traditional surrogacy, vs. egg donation and gestational surrogacy for a REASON. Post birth communication and contact, medical information, our kids knowing both sides of their family history and hopefully connecting with their half siblings) with twins via traditional surrogacy. I won't get into the journey as actually this blog now covers life with twins and also, about me.
Why about me? Because I'm the one living the life, dealing with the aftermath of the journey (my DH being the boys' biofather, of course, and our former surrogate being their biomom) and raising the little dudes.
But some of you are probably wondering, how could I lose Isa and Dom at such a young age and go decades (literally nearly 20 years) without becoming a parent.
With Isa and Dom I was really responsible. What happened is that, I met a young man who I loved and who I am friends with to this day. We stayed friends and will remain friends probably until we draw our final breaths. I care a lot about his family... yes, he married after I did, and has some kids.
I was on the Pill but on antibiotics. It negated the effect of the pill (lesson learned, if you are on antibiotics, don't think the pill will work because it won't)
I know EXACTLY when I got pregnant. At Thanksgiving when we were housesitting. I lost the girls while I was at work, on Mother's Day. I collapsed at work and almost bled to death. Why was I working on Mother's Day? My job required me to work end of quarter, whether it was a weekend or not, for revenue reporting purposes. So I was at work and collapsed and an ambulance came and got me.
Docs were fighting over me and the last thing I remember is this doc saying "she will bleed to death if we don't get her into the OR right now".
My uterus abrupted and the girls were gone. They took one tube and one ovary with them. And part of the second tube. They patched together my uterus because before they knocked me out I asked them to try and save my fertility.
Back in those days... IVF was just in the early stages. Louise Brown had just been conceived in the petri dish, if I recall. But in the back of my young mind, I thought, I need to save what I can.
So they patched me up. And after that, a domino effect of crappy surgery created many, many surgeries post losing the girls. It was awful and I won't get into details about the whys and hows. Just bad luck and crappy local docs which is why I now go to the best docs in the country now, should I need further abdominal surgery, I must go to a GYN Oncologist since they deal with massive scar tissue and cutting into women who have high risk of losing bowel and kidney function.
But that won't happen. Not to me. I rock! I am fortunate because I take excellent care of myself and have a mega-team of the best docs on the flipping planet. Who keep an eye on me... and I am golden.
The domino effect took its toll.
In the meantime, despite tons of surgery and illness post losing the girls (who I never got to see, being young and naive, they did not allow me to see them post birth, they took them and incinerated them. I named them Isabella and Dominique because my GYN at the time, told me it was healthy. And it is.) due to losing the girls, I was steadily taking classes (and believe it, if I can graduate and do term papers in a hospital bed, YOU too can take classes!) to graduate from college. Busting my butt.
Losing the girls galvanized me into action. That action was, move forward and persevere because I refused to stay stuck. Stay stuck in a crappy job and stay stuck in life. This happened to me, and no matter what, I moved forward, keeping my eye on making the best decisions for myself that I could given the little guidance I had.
Over time, I gained wisdom, excellent jobs, traveled the world, dated a bunch of losers and then figured out that I needed to dump the losers and met my match. My DH.
When he met me, my torso wasn't as scarred. I'd had a bunch of laps but really, after we married, omg, things really went south and that's when the cancer hit and my body became a total battleground between skilled docs at Hopkins and basically, persevering to survive.
The DH rolled with it. I rolled with it but I can totally relate to people who suffer tremendous pain and are stuck on bedrest. It's really funny that when I was dealing with all this stuff, my friends will tell you I remained relentlessly positive. It was crazy. I just dealt with it.
I guess that is how I have dealt with being barren, as well. One surgery required the loss of my patched together uterus and one ovary (due to a very serious systemic infection). That is the first time I was cut in half and everything was realigned inside, bowel resected, appendix removed, gallbladder removed, stent placed in ureter due to scar tissue blocking kidney...).
Anyway... this barren body fought and fought, with the help of the DH, who loves me and does not see my scars at all, and who caregave me with incredible care... I could not even look at the staples and tape, it was so massive and pervasive... he helped me, so much. Cleaning the wound and all. Just really rose to the occasion.
And said, as he did when we met "It's ok and it will be ok". When I told him the day we met, "Hey, just want you to know the docs say I can't have kids." He said "It's ok and it's going to be ok".
Well you know the story from there, where we tried to adopt once my cancer was long in the past, and all the surgeries were in the past, and got the go-ahead from the docs. Decades later~ we lost little J, our potentially adoptive son when he passed at birth. I love his mom very much and we will forever be connected. And then, we moved towards surrogacy.
So, whatever stage you are in --- fighting infertility, fighting cancer, fighting to become a mother... look at this battered and broken and barren torso and know, if I can make it through, so much physical pain and suffering and so much wanting to become a mother...
You can too.
My miracles are here and I rock as a mom. Even though this body is scarred and broken, believe it. I can rock it with the best of the ladies who are in their 20s and 30s.
I have years of experience volunteering with fragile kids and teaching kids too... got the knowledge to try and be the best mom I can possibly be.
Look at this body and don't think it is ugly. It is beautiful. It shows perseverance and dedication to life... every line, every scar, is beautiful to me now. I don't really see the scars anymore. Or the fake belly button, but the boys are fascinated by the fake belly button and the scar and are always messing around with it when my shirt or sweatshirt lifts up and they see it. Probably because they notice it is different than their own bodies and that of their babbas (father in Greek).
When they ask me down the road, how they came to be, I will show them the scars that they will for sure be used to seeing at that point, and tell them very honestly about the way they came into this world. About their half siblings and the family who helped us, against all odds.
I think I'm kinda brave, baring this torso. If you could see the rest of it, whoah. You'd be blown away. But I am showing just the part I can decently show.
The body of being barren. You can be moved by it, and want to help someone like me who cannot have kids in any way, shape, or form. Or you can turn away and be GRATEFUL that you are fertile and never take your fertility or children for granted, ever again if you have ever done so.
As for me, the gratitude I feel for my Duo, thanks to our former surrogate and her family, is unparalleled. It will always be.