“‘I think the best course of action will be to do a total hysterectomy,’ the doctor said as he peered at me over the top of his glasses. ‘But I’m only 29!,’ I gasped in disbelief. ‘Surely there has to be another option.’ ‘Well yes, there’s the put up with it approach, but from what you’ve said, you’ve finished having children and truthfully, there are a lot of benefits to having your reproductive organs removed.’ My gynaecologist was pretty matter of fact and blunt. He’d been an OB-GYN for a long time and had long since lost the compassion and bedside manner that a woman being told she was going to lose everything that made her a woman needs in that moment.
Six months earlier, my third daughter Marni was born 5 weeks and 1 day early in January, 2016. I had gestational diabetes during my pregnancy and at 32 weeks pregnant, I started having really unstable blood sugars.
‘I’m sorry, your baby’s heartbeat is decelerating a bit too often,’ said the nurse who had been taking care of me for the past 2 weeks of being in the hospital. ‘We’re going to have to do a caesarean today.’
‘But my husband isn’t here,’ I said worriedly. I wasn’t expecting this. Despite having had some things go wrong, things were looking better and everything was looking like I could go home and have the baby at the proper time. I was in a hospital in Sydney, 3 hours away from my hometown of Orange. My husband was taking care of my other two small children full time, running his café/recording studio that we owned along with his two younger brothers, all while having a pregnant wife in the hospital in another city. Things were pretty crazy at home.
‘Well, unfortunately we have to do it now, so I’d call your husband if I was you and if he starts now, he might get here just in time. Now hop in the shower and give yourself a good scrub with this soap,’ she said as she handed me the special antibacterial soap they make you clean yourself with before surgery. I did what I was told and after telling my husband to drop everything because the time was NOW, I hopped in the shower and prepared myself to meet my little girl a few weeks before I had planned on it.
In my first pregnancy I had experienced a pulmonary embolism, which after almost killing me, left me with needing to inject myself with clexane – a blood thinner – in each subsequent pregnancy. I had been taking this as a needle in my thigh twice a day. Add to this the insulin I was injecting into my stomach three times a day. I was pretty much a pincushion and a mess of black and blue bruises. ‘Because you’ve taken your clexane today, we won’t actually be able to give you a spinal block for this caesarean, you’ll have to go under a general anaesthetic,’ the doctor informed me after my shower. ‘You’ll get to meet your baby when you wake up.’
So not only were they taking my baby out too early, I wouldn’t even get to hold her when she was born? In fact, no one would, except the nurses and doctors, as I just knew Craig wouldn’t make it in time. I felt so completely alone in that moment.
‘Ok let’s go,’ said the orderly as they wheeled me out and down to the operating room. It went pretty fast after that. I remember feeling really cold in the operating room and one of the beautiful surgical nurses offering to take my phone so she could take videos and photos of my baby when she was born so at least I could relive it through looking at them. My last coherent thought as they got me to count backwards from 10 was, ‘Jesus, please save my baby girl.’
I woke up in recovery in horrendous pain. I hadn’t had a spinal block this time as I’d had with the other two c-sections and so my nerves were fully alive and feeling every cut of the scalpel used to bring my baby into the world. ‘It hurts so much,’ I groaned. ‘Is the baby ok? Where is she?’
‘She’s ok and she’s beautiful,’ the nurse said as she leaned over me, smiling. ‘We’ll get you some pain relief, it’s all going to be ok.’
Not long after that, my husband arrived after driving as fast as he could to the hospital.
‘She’s ok, I haven’t seen her yet though,’ I said to him, so relieved he was there. He has always represented stability to me and just his presence made me feel so much better.
Marni was beautiful. She was healthy and surprisingly big at 6lbs 2oz despite her being almost 6 weeks preemie. ‘I’m a little bit happy she didn’t go to full term, she would have been enormous,’ I whispered to my husband as we looked at her lying in her NICU bed 24 hours after she was born. He laughed, ‘Yeah that wouldn’t have been fun to push out after 6 more weeks’ growth.’
I was finally able to hold her after 24 hours. She was doing really well and despite some jaundice – she had a condition called ABO incompatibility where my immune system and O blood type had started making antibodies to fight her A blood type – she was thriving. ‘It’s good she came a little early,’ the doctors told me. ‘It’s possible if you’d carried her to full term she may have needed a blood transfusion. As it is, she’ll need to lay on a Bili Blanket for a few days, maybe a week, but she should be fine.’
While she was tanning herself on the Bili Blanket and gaining strength, developing her sucking reflex and her lungs, I was recovering from my surgery. I was discharged from the maternity unit after 4 days, still in a world of pain but mostly concentrating on pumping enough to build up my milk supply so I could breastfeed Marni when she was able to suck.
The hospital we were at is a well-known hospital for premature babies and has a massive NICU. They have a housing area for parents of babies that are in the NICU for an extended period of time. ‘I’m sorry, we actually don’t have any rooms available at the moment,’ the social worker told me after I was discharged from the ward but my daughter was not. ‘Do you know anyone in the area that you can stay with?’
‘No I don’t, and I wouldn’t be leaving my daughter’s side anyway, she’s only 4 days old!,’ I said, a little bit upset. ‘I need to try to feed her every 3 hours because I need to help her develop her sucking reflex.’
‘I’m sorry,’ the social worker said, ‘you’ll have to stay in a motel I suppose.’
‘I don’t think so,’ I said, ‘I can’t afford a motel, and I couldn’t drive myself around, even if I could. I’ve just had major abdominal surgery.’ At this point, my husband had taken the car and gone back to Orange to look after our other two daughters.
So there I was, 4 days post- surgery, in a lot of pain and still bleeding heavily, sleeping on a breastfeeding couch in the little mothers room that was attached to the NICU. I stayed there for 4 nights while we waited to get transferred back to our hometown. It was awful. I had one shower in that time and had to walk quite a way every day just to get something to eat.
We finally got transferred back home when Marni was just over a week old. She went from strength to strength and we brought her home with us when she was just 2 weeks old. Still 3 weeks before her due date. She was a beautiful, thriving baby girl and has been amazing us ever since with her advanced development, her quick wit and her unbelievable cuteness. She’s such a treasure to our family.
I, on the other hand, continued to bleed and continued to have extreme pain. ‘I don’t think this is normal,’ I said to my husband when Marni was about 4 weeks old. ‘It hurts so much, and it’s not getting any better.’
‘You’d better go get it checked out,’ he said. I had a rough history with pain and painkillers which is a whole other story, but he could see I was in genuine discomfort and the bleeding just wasn’t getting any lighter.
I went to the OB-GYN, who did an ultrasound. ‘You have a very small amount of retained product in your uterus,’ he said pretty matter of factly. ‘It should come out on its own, but if you start to feel unwell or develop any fevers, go straight to the hospital.’
He also mentioned that I had an ‘abnormal uterus’ and he wanted to do further tests. The heavy bleeding and pain continued and I ended up being diagnosed with a condition called Adenomyosis, which is when the cells that normally form a lining on the inside of the uterus (endometrium) also grow into the muscle wall of the uterus. It’s different to endometriosis, something I never suffered with, but the symptoms are similar. It’s caused sometimes by surgery on the uterus – of which I’d had 3 – when the lining cells invade into the muscle layer as a result.
The pain and bleeding wasn’t getting any better over the next long while. I was getting weak from so much blood loss and was starting to need regular strong painkillers, so I took my OB-GYN’s advice and I booked in for the hysterectomy. 6 months after Marni was born, at 29 years of age, I underwent a total abdominal hysterectomy. It 100% solved my reproductive issues and I haven’t had any bleeding or pain since I recovered from it.
Emotionally I struggled a bit with having my woman-hood removed so young and it triggered a relapse in my drug addiction (which is another story also posted on this website). On the upside, I no longer get periods, I don’t have to worry about contraception, and I managed to keep my ovaries so I didn’t go through menopause. On the downside, I feel empty. Even though I was finished having children and genuinely didn’t want anymore, every time someone looks at my 3 girls and says, ‘You going to try for a boy?’ Or, ‘any more little ones on the horizon?,’ I feel sad, dried up and old as I awkwardly laugh it off and say ‘no, definitely done here, no more for us.’ ‘Ah you never know, love,’ the kind old ladies often say. ‘Never say never!’ I don’t bother explaining because a) it’s too big of a story and they inevitably end up feeling sorry for me and b) I don’t want to make them feel bad for saying something anyone would say to a healthy 31-year-old woman in her prime child bearing years.
I’m happy with my little family. I am, but sometimes I wonder if I made the right decision. Maybe I should have put up with the pain and bleeding for a bit longer? Maybe having another baby would have fixed it? I’ll never know I guess.”
This is an exclusive story to Love What Matters. For permission to use, email Exclusive@LoveWhatMatters.com.
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Jaimie Honeysett, 31, of Orange, NSW Australia. Have you had a similar experience? We’d like to hear your journey. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.
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