I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m a rape survivor, a domestic abuse survivor, a twice-divorced single mother, a full-time college student and waitress, a daughter, a sister, a friend.
And a woman.
Woman was never really something that I consciously used to classify myself. Until I was faced with losing, what I apparently viewed made me a woman, my uterus.
I had never felt the “sisterhood” of women like some do, until I had my daughter, even then I never classified myself in terms of my gender. Since the day she was born, mama was how I always saw myself. Everything revolves around my daughter and providing for her so she can have a wonderful life. I had always wanted a large family, but after finding myself a single mom, despite the careful planning of my pregnancy, that dream seemed to be something that might never come to fruition.
Yet, in the back of my mind I still hoped to have at least one more child. Until that dream was shattered upon hearing that at 32, I needed to have a hysterectomy. All of a sudden I began to question my femininity. Consciously I knew that yes, I would always be a woman, it’s just biology, however, what good would that be if I’m no longer able to bring new life into this world, something a man could never do.
Now, I know I’m one of the lucky ones. I have an wonderful, healthy and brilliant little girl. I also have an amazing sixteen year old that I inherited after the divorce. She is also amazing, healthy and brilliant. I’m thankful that her mother allows me to occupy any role in her life. That being said, I was crushed when the decision was made. All of a sudden I felt less of a woman. I mourned the children I would no longer be able to carry, felt guilty that my daughter would never be a big sister, guilty that I took my pregnancy with her for granted. Guilty that I had to work so much instead of being able to sit back and enjoy the baby years. Angry that this had to happen as well as ashamed that I would no longer be able to do the one thing women are supposed to be able to do.
Yes, I know surrogacy and especially adoption are amazing ways to grow my family, but that doesn’t lessen the grief I feel over never being able to feel the new life growing inside of me. Of never being able to feed that child from my body, of losing that connection with the child and the father. How am I to define myself now? How am I to look at pregnant women and new mothers with joy, wonder and hope instead of this overwhelming grief and sadness? How am I to find my “womaness” now?
Thank you Jennifer for being vulnerable. Forletting us see a bit of your heart amidst your hurt. I know you aren’t fully healed just yet, it may be awhile before you reach that point but thank you for saying something that isn’t talked about out in the open. I pray so many other women are encouraged by your honesty.
Love, Yours Truly
If you love this post, share the love! SHARE or LIKE this blog post to help me continue to photograph other amazing women like you! Interested of a session of your own? Email me! Or visit my website for more information and to view our galleries.
Yours Truly Portraiture | Chesapeake, Hampton Roads, Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Williamsburg, & Richmond Fine Art Film Boudoir Photographer