A Guest Writers’ Week post by Dana Sukonatarak
Two months ago today, I had emergency surgery to remove my left Fallopian tube. My baby started growing there. She never made it down the water slide and into the wave pool. The slide had unreported structural damage from a long-past chlamydia infection, and was full of hostile fluid and debris. My reproductive infrastructure was a dilapidated ghetto where my poor baby was stuck, lonely and sad and quickly outgrowing her ectopic home.
At six centimeters, my lime-sized baby threatened my already fucked up tube, my future fertility, and my life. She would never make it into the world. And if she grew any bigger, I could’ve been on my way out of this world.
I had the clap seven years ago, courtesy of a promiscuous boyfriend and a naïve disposition on sexual health and liberation. It’s my body, I’ll do what I want. I wish I knew back then that what I really wanted, what was most important, was a healthy, fully functional body from head to toe. I treated the infection, but it wasn’t cleared entirely. Nothing was ever amiss until this year, when I began to have a sharp pain in my left side and a very light period that lasted for weeks. A first doctor suggested it was a cyst, and to see a specialist. By the time I saw the second doctor and found out it was an ectopic pregnancy, I had to immediately check into the hospital for a salpingectomy.
I remember when my period was like a special surprise, a greeting card from a stork carrying an empty baby blanket. No kid for you this month. Yay! Periods were a relief. I did not want to be pregnant, especially by some 19-year-old that worked at Jerry’s Sub Shop part-time. Even after Mr. Claptastic, when I’d been with my then-boyfriend for years, I did not want to be pregnant. I wanted to enjoy my youth and unstretched belly, with reckless abandon and the knowledge that babies could come whenever I wanted them, on my terms and at the “right” age, after marriage, whatever.
Now, I am 27, and armed with just one Fallopian tube, whose end is scarred and hardened and blocking the entrance to baby’s first crib. Doctors say that in-vitro fertilization is my only choice if I want to bear a child. That’s no death sentence, of course, but hearing it has robbed me of a distinct degree of humanity. My newly discovered reproductive disability made me feel like less of a woman and more of a science experiment. Left to my own devices, I would only be able to produce more tube-trapped babies.
The sudden transition from avoiding pregnancy like the plague to praying that it happens one day is a sobering one. We sometimes live carelessly with the assumption that everything will be okay. Everything will be okay. But it will be hard, harder than it would’ve been if I’d been more forward-thinking in my self-care.
Health is something people tend not to take seriously until they are forced to. Think of your future self – they are your present self. If I could go back to my early twenties, I would eat salad instead of Baconators and drink water instead of soda. I would use condoms even though it obviously feels worse than raw dog. I would do everything I could to reduce the chances of realizing too late that there is something wrong. I am doing all I can now to make it right, which is a host of things including vitamins and oils and raw vegetables and yoga and acupuncture—and a belief that the body has the power to heal itself. There are no units of measurement for my progress, but I’m feeling better these days than I ever have before, and that’s a success entirely of its own.
Dana is a writer and editor based in the DC metro area. She’s the author of Men, a collection of personal essays about love and relationships. Connect with Dana on Twitter @peachesjordan.