I wrote out a card for my mil this a.m. After years of struggles with fibroids and other horrors, the news has come down from on high (medically speaking, of course) that a hysterectomy is in order. She isn't taking it so well.
Not that I blame her. Even at age 60, my mil defines herself first and foremost as a mother. I don't wish to debate the Biblical accuracy of this kind of thing, and I'm not interested in a spirited conversation about how my mil's years in service to the greater educational good of countless kindergartners really entitles her to more in the self-esteem department. I'm just stating a fact. My mil sees herself as a woman and a mother, interchangeably and inseparably. A hysterectomy--the surgical removal of that which biologically made it possible for her to be be both things--is, for her, the ultimate blow.
I can relate to my mil's pain, if only on a very limited basis. In the past 17 months, my body's feminine functions have betrayed me time and time again. My hormones have dipped, rose and plummeted. My cycles have ebbed and flowed irregularly. Things that should work, don't. And things that shouldn't, do. There is a continuing sense of frustration on my behalf in all these things. Frustration that I can not, at 32, count on my body to perform the functions I could just 10 years ago. Frustration that I am far too young to be facing this kind of aging nonsense. And frustration that what I want just won't, won't, won't happen.
Like my mil, I have sought solace in a medical establishment that I admit to trusting less than 50% of the time. The fact of the matter is that I have no answers. The Lord does, clearly ... but He's not telling. I feel a responsibility to my overall health to do a little digging and very, very little tinkering. Tinkering, clearly, is God's department. This frustrates the doctor (I won't say "my doctor" because I chose her simply because she is the only female ob/gyn within comfortable driving distance, not because of any real connection), because she has at her control high powered drugs that could arm-wrestle my body into compliance with just a few rounds of injections and pill-popping.
And why not? Why not open the Pandora's Box? Why take the least-invasive route, why take the path that will only nudge my body's hormones and rhythms in the right direction when there is a simple method to shoving things back into order? Because I don't feel like it's what God would have me do, that's why. This makes me as desirable a patient as a leper, I can tell.
I'm going to call my mil later and see how she's doing. She told me years ago, when I first began dating her son, that she wasn't sure she was done having kids yet. She was 43--her oldest was 21, her youngest 12. I must have looked at her with some surprise--and probably more than a little condescension in my know-it-all 18 year-old eyes. She told me then that it wasn't so much having more children that meant so much; it was the fact that the possibility existed at all.
I know in her heart, despite the fact that she is 60 and biology has removed that possibility from her, she still feels this way. I know that she does because I finally understand what she was talking about. While I am not defined by my biology, while God created in me so much more than a set of processes to result in life and the propagation of the species ... I am still a woman. And knowing that that womanliness is betraying you, well, it's a bitter thing.