Categorized | Features, Commentary

Goodbye Uteri, You Served Your Purpose

Carolyn Eggert with her family

Carolyn’s uteri served her well with the birth of her two sons, Benjamin  (r) and Samuel (3d left). Also pictured is husband, Michael.

By Carolyn Eggert

In a few weeks, we will part. I’m 56 and sadly, you are more of a liability now. You challenged me over the years, but together we did great things.

Ultimately, you provided a safe home for my growing babies, despite the fact that there were two of you.

Before I was aware of your odd structure, I was a regular, menstruating young woman.

That changed when I reached my mid 20s. A new doctor examined me and asked, “Has anyone ever told you that you have a double cervix?”

I had been going to a gynecologist since I was 18. I had routine exams and pap tests, yet the two different physicians I saw never mentioned this.

Thus my adult lifelong gynecological adventure began. After probing, scanning and laparoscopic surgery, I learned that I not only had a double cervix, I had a double uterus, one kidney, one ovary and one fallopian tube.

There was no boyfriend in the picture then, but I was warned that having children might not be possible for me.

Full Disclosure

A few years later, when I was in a serious relationship and marriage was on the horizon, I revealed my anatomy to my intended.

I said that if he wanted to have children the old-fashioned way, I may not be The One. I then reviewed my internal organ inventory with him.

He lovingly said that it didn’t matter and we got married. Within a few months, we met with a fertility doctor to get a firm opinion on whether I could get pregnant and carry a baby to term.

After more tests, scans and another laparoscopic procedure, the recommendation was: Try.

We had our assignment — we tried and got pregnant. Unfortunately I miscarried.

Eggert

The doctor’s new recommendation was: Stop trying. We were told that my strange uterine structure with its rudimentary horn was not suitable for carrying a baby to term.

My husband and I immediately looked into adoption. The process was long, but we moved through it. As soon as the agency was ready to schedule a home visit, I learned that I was pregnant again.

We tiptoed for the first 12 weeks. I had a few bleeding episodes that landed me in the emergency room. We were fortunate. A little person with a strong heartbeat was in there.

The question was: How long could he safely stay in there?

To decrease the risk of pregnancy loss or premature birth, the obstetrician performed a cerclage — which means sewing up each cervix so that they would not dilate early.

Taking Precautions

From then on, I was on bed rest. I was fortunate to have a boss who allowed me to work from home. This helped minimize the time I could spend agonizing over my fear of losing what was now a real baby.

I had weekly ultrasounds. Early in my second trimester, we saw that my son had only one kidney.

We were assured that having one kidney would not have any effect on his life (after all, I was born with only one). He would, however, be tested for genitourinary issues after he was born.

The pregnancy progressed and discussion of how to give birth began. A vaginal birth was ruled out. The obstetrician scheduled cesarean section.

Benjamin was born on June 9, 1994. After delivering the baby — my OB took a good look at you, my uterus x 2. He told me that you looked like a studio apartment with a small study attached.

Uteri, you did your job. Three years later, you did it again. We followed the same precautions (why mess with a good recipe?) and three weeks before his due date, my second son, Samuel, was born.

Thanks to ultrasounds, we knew that he had two beautiful kidneys.

There was one more pregnancy after this, but my doctor felt that you, my uteri, had been overextended by carrying two healthy babies. He could not predict what would happen with a third one.

I miscarried. Unlike the doctors, I had faith in you and the pregnancy but Mother Nature knew best.

A Job Well Done

You, uteri, have gone above and beyond what we anticipated. Now your walls have thickened, and your cohort, the double cervix, is a mishmash of scar tissue.

I am having a hard time saying goodbye. I hear it is common to experience sadness for a few days after you are removed. I’m already feeling it. There is something emotional about surrendering these intimate organs.

But in your heyday, you two uteri came through. You created two miracles — one is 23 and the other is 20.

I’ll always be grateful.

Postscript: Although my gynecologist recommended a hysterectomy, my insurance denied coverage. If and when you are removed, uteri, know that I’ve accepted that it is OK to part.

Oh, and during an ultrasound, the technician found my left ovary, which had been missing all these years.

 

Carolyn Schultz Eggert is a freelance writer and owner of  Family Friends Boston, which offers caregiver respite, senior companion and transportation services.

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