I am not sure when I ceased to exist as a person, supplanted by the presence of my uterus. It was a subtle thing, to be sure. Insidious, even. But it happened.
Shortly after graduation from med school, my mother had asked me to accompany her to a doctor’s appointment. I forget why. I usually don’t get called upon unless something serious is going on. At any rate, I made a comment as we crossed the parking lot…something to the effect of how I would really like to hear her say she was proud of me. Instead she said, “I won’t be proud of you until you have children.” Then she hit the elevator up button without even making eye contact.
One evening at my brother’s house, I forget why I was there since I almost never get invited over, my brother says to me in front of his stay at home wife and toddler daughter, “You are denying your femininity by not having children.”
Once I started practice, after graduating from residency, I found my male partners were all saying that I should just get pregnant, that if I did that, I would relax and stop being so nit picky. Apparently I should not care about patient telephone wait times and laboratory errors.
Then, a pastor said to me one day that I should not have children if I was going to work. I was already defying God’s design by placing myself in a position of power over men. I did not want to throw children into the damnation mix. I knew in my heart that this was not God’s truth but it still hurt, nonetheless.
Patients, who really were I think just trying to get to know me, would ask before anything else how many children I had. When they found out none, the next questions was either, “When will you?” or “Why not?” We have fifteen minutes here. Surely we can find something else to talk about other than my reproductive status? I don’t really fault them, though. They may have been concerned about my availability if I had children. Or maybe they were just trying to make conversation. I understand either way. Still, it was disconcerting to have this occur multiple times a day every single day.
Sometimes I would have extended family members come up and grab my belly when I was wearing lose clothing to see if I was pregnant. No asking permission first, mind you. That groping felt so demeaning. Why don’t you just go ahead and check my hymen? See if I am still a virgin?
Family and friends subjected me to an onslaught of questions, trying to sway me. Who will take care of you when you are old? Won’t you be lonely? You know you will wake up one day and regret it?
I could go on.
But I will spare you.
Bottom line, I did not feel called to have children. It was not what God wanted of me. I felt that I was too selfish. Too engrossed in my work. Too terrified of the genetic and social implications.
No children from this uterus. No way, no how. I know how to prevent that! I will show all of you that I do not need to have children to be a fulfilled human being…
One day, I was pregnant. Not on purpose. Completely by accident. I did not know what to do with myself…how to think or what to feel.
I am NOT a mother!
Except that now I was.
God has a terrible sense of humor…