The Indian spiritual leader Sri Chinmoy said that “surrender is a journey from outer turmoil to inner peace.” Lately, I’ve been in a bit of turmoil.
Over the summer I had another surgery to deal with my misbehaving uterus.
After my sixth miscarriage, my period never returned, which is not normal. I knew it was not normal, but I still I waited 6 months before telling my doctor, because I was exhausted from being a patient and I just didn’t want to deal with it.
Six more months, many blood tests, and several diagnostic exams later it was determined that I had uterine adhesions (or scarring) blocking all flow out of my cervix. This is called “Asherman’s syndrome” and it had likely resulted from my D&C. The diagnosis felt oddly appropriate. My losses scarred my spirit, why not my body too? It felt like my uterus was doing a mic drop. “It’s been fun, but we’re out.”
I seriously considered not fixing it. I think a small part of me thought the permanent eviction of Aunt Flo was my reward for enduring all the pregnancy losses. But in the end, my stronger desire was to return to a time when my reproductive health wasn’t a constant problem and the only conversation I had about my uterus was during my annual well-woman exam.
And now, after the surgery, I am “happy” to report that my body is back in business. Unfortunately, my reinstated cycle has allowed my mind to become newly susceptible to old questions, like, should my husband and I try again?
Without my period, it was a non-issue. We were done trying. We were moving on. With my period, like a moth to a flame, I am drawn again to the narratives of other women and the allure of diagnostic tests and treatment protocols we never tried. Once again, I’m losing hours speculating whether a pregnancy outcome might be different now that I’ve worked through my grief and am less stressed. Once more, I’m approaching my birthday aware of my ticking fertility clock and wondering whether I should give it one last shot.
My sister asked why I persist in putting myself through these mental gymnastics, but I had no explanation for her. It doesn’t make sense even to me. We’ve made the decision to pursue surrogacy. I know that not trying is better for both my mental health and the state of my marriage. It’s not even that I want so badly to be pregnant. It’s more that I can’t let go of the belief that my body should be able to be pregnant. I’m still stubbornly trying to put the puzzle together. And because of that, I can’t seem to get my head out of the rearview mirror.
I called my fertility doctor to ask if there was anything we might try differently if we want to conceive again. But having already exhausted most available medical interventions, she had little more to offer.
I think that’s why I can’t stop worrying. It is terribly uncomfortable to sit in a place of unknowing and not-doing; my brain resists and resents the lack of control. I recently watched The Last Dance on Netflix. In it, Michael Jordan said he can’t stop wondering what might have happened if they’d had another season. And although my context is completely different, I understood his sentiment. How do you walk away from the game when there might still be cards to play or moves to make? How do you quiet the what ifs and remain confident in the path you’ve chosen? It feels like my brain is on a mental stability ball, constantly trying to reposition itself to stay centered and not lose its balance.
I’m currently reading Admiral William H. McRaven’s book Make Your Bed. In one chapter he explained that during SEAL training, the instructors would sometimes order recruits to turn themselves into “sugar cookies.” When this happened trainees would have to jump in the ocean and then roll around on the beach to coat themselves in sand. Becoming a “sugar cookie” was arbitrary. He couldn’t prevent it, nor did he find it productive ponder why he became a sugar cookie. The only thing he could do was get comfortable with the sand and keep moving forward.
I find this story helpful, because at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter why I can’t stay pregnant. What matters is how I move forward. My sister said life has a way of teaching us to submit to our lack of control, and if we fail to learn the lesson the first time, we eventually get another opportunity. Well, I’ve had six opportunities, but I’m still learning. I’m trying. I’m trying to surrender to my reality rather than fixating on the past or obsessing over the possibilities. I’m trying to breathe deep and give myself a break. I walk my dog. I pet my cat. I hug my husband. I call my friends. Maybe one day I’ll even find the way to inner peace.