A few months ago I had a tubal ligation. Pardon the bluntness, but I feel there is no point in beating around the bush, and I can’t think of a witty introduction. I effectively closed a miserable chapter in my life. The surgical notes regarding the reason for the procedure indicated, “patient desires sterilization.” I think “desires” is a strong word, but for the sake of insurance billing, I’ll let it stand. The truth is, I did desire an end, a decision, a finality.
We decided after Engelberta was born that we were willing to try two more times to have another child “naturally” before we stopped trying. Ni of ne months after Engelberta’s birth, we lost a baby, leaving us with one more try floating around in decision purgatory where it lingered for almost three years. I felt like I was living with a noose around my neck that tightened each time anyone approached the topic until I couldn’t cope with the thought of another miscarriage. The decision came down to emotionally and mentally unstable wife/mother or surgery, so we chose surgery. I talked all of this over with my therapist, and just making the decision to quit felt like a physical weight off of my body.
I thought I might have more feelings about the ending my fertility, but I have yet to look back with any regret. Maybe each miscarriage was a bit of a death of the opportunity to carry a child, and thinking about the procedure for months before we finally made a decision gave me plenty of time to mourn the loss before it happened. It has only felt like relief and closure in the post surgical weeks.
I have added two new scars to my collection, and they seem to mirror some new emotional scar tissue. I have talked about our lost babies in conversation several times in the last few weeks, and I noticed that a lot of the sting is gone when I mention them. One person apologized for bringing up such a fraught subject, and I heard this truth come out of my mouth, “It’s our history now.” It’s history that has finally started to feel more like a scar: tender to the touch, but not a gaping wound.
With each physical scar, there is a healing process; first scabbing, then physical therapy to strengthen and protect the weakened limb until it can function more normally. My mind and heart have followed much the same process, and just like my body, my heart will never look the same – it is scarred. It will never be what it was before the injury, but it is still somehow stronger, more able to recognize pain in another heart, more able to live in the moment because the past is untenable, more able to accept that I can’t control life.
Thank God for scars.