It was around 6 am on a Saturday, and I was shuffling in and out of the bathroom and up and down the kitchen. It hurt to lay down, and it hurt to sit down. Standing wasn’t any better, so I started pacing slowly, and I yelled, “I wish I were a boy!” It was that time of the month, and I had horrendous cramps and was bleeding heavily. “Oh, for crying out loud, Lisa, stop talking like that!” my father answered. “You don’t wish you were a boy!” he continued, and then I fainted. I was fourteen years old.
This started two years before and kept getting progressively worse. Throughout high school, I would force myself to attend gym class if I was in pain. I hated getting my period! It wasn’t just an inconvenience; it controlled my life. During college, I would miss class and couldn’t work. My heating pad was my best friend. The only thing that gave me some relief was this new medication that came on the market: Ibuprofen.
On and on, the monthly ride went until age 24 when I was diagnosed with Stage 4 Endometriosis. Only after two laparoscopies that freed my bowel from the back of my uterus, a fallopian tube that was adhered to my uterus, the draining of a chocolate cyst and removal of endometrium on the outside of my uterus did I have some relief. I was told at that time that I had a 99.9% chance of NOT having children. I was thrown for a loop. This put life in perspective for me. I had just gotten engaged, and I wanted to have children. I told my fiancee that we could call off the wedding if that were a dealbreaker for him. I completely understood. He said that we could adopt; he wanted to spend his life with me.
We married, and we were going to start adoption proceedings, and I was going to have another laparoscopy. It had to be done within a specific time frame during my cycle, and the nurse needed to know when I started my period, except that I wasn’t getting my period. I was late. I had my period on my wedding day. I went for a blood test in the early morning, and at 2 pm, I got a phone call at work. The nurse said, “Are you sitting down?” “Yes,” I said softly. “YOU’RE PREGNANT!!!” I couldn’t believe my ears.
My pregnancy wasn’t easy. At thirteen weeks, I started spotting and rushed to the hospital, thinking that I was miscarrying. I was sent home after a while and told to call my doctor the next morning. That night I was upset, sad, and furious. How could life do this to me? I thought I couldn’t have kids, and now I’m pregnant, and this baby will be taken away from me. This isn’t fair! How could life be so cruel? I called my doctor the next morning, and he said that I had placenta previa. The placenta was partially covering the cervix and could deliver first, which would be life-threatening to the child and me. I was on bed rest for the rest of the pregnancy. Then I had an ultrasound at 36 weeks that showed that the placenta had moved, and I was able to have my healthy baby girl naturally.
My daughter was six months old when I discovered that I was pregnant again. How could this be with my history? I was dumbfounded. I couldn’t believe it. I was plagued with migraines with this pregnancy. After I gave birth to a baby boy, I was told not to have any more children; my body couldn’t take the stress. I continued to have migraines for years. The cramps came back, and at age thirty-three, I had a hysterectomy. It took almost two years for my hormones to level out and my migraines to subside a little. I haven’t had a period in 19 years, and I’ll tell you one thing, I haven’t missed it at all.
It wasn’t a rite of passage for me or something that I looked at with wonder and awe happening to my body every month and appreciating what my body could do. It was something I dreaded and that I had to plan my life around. Now without it, I don’t feel any less of a woman. I feel like I did before it ever came on the scene. I can do what I want when I want, and I don’t feel like crap. Sure I have the regular aches and pains one associates with age but no cramps!
This body didn’t always work the way I wanted it to work. At times it held me back and question the state of my health and if it would ever improve. It made me make decisions that I never thought I’d have to make, but it did end up carrying and birthing two beautiful human beings, and that miracle of birth was more than I thought it could ever accomplish.