Guest Contributor Dede: Please God, let me be fertile…

Dear God, please let me be fertile.

I am 20 years of age. I had a myomectomy two months ago.

Dear God, please let me be fertile.

I have always had painful periods. I have always dreaded my menses. I used to use up to 7 thick sanitary pads a day. I thought it was normal. It was not.

Dear God, please let me be fertile.

I was diagnosed with uterine fibroids when I was 18. I remember the doctor’s shocked look. I remember thinking this is a mistake. 18 year olds don’t get fibroids. 18 year olds do not feel lumps in their uteri. 18 year olds do not have myomectomies.

Dear God, please let me be fertile.

I’m an only child. I want kids, at least three. I’ll be a great mother. I hope to be a great mother.

Dear God, please let me be fertile.

I lived in denial for two years. My fibroids will shrink. They’ll disappear. I’ll get better. Lies. Delusions.   They didn’t shrink. They got bigger. The cramps became unbearable. I was missing more and more classes. I was missing more and more work. My bladder got affected. I became anemic. I needed a myomectomy.

Dear God, please let me be fertile.

I had the myomectomy two months ago. The fibroids were taken out. The shame stayed.

I was ashamed that I had fibroids. I was embarrassed that someone would find out. I told everyone I had stomach cramps.

Am I less of a woman?

It didn’t help that many doctors found it incredulous that I had fibroids at such a young age.

It didn’t help that anytime I asked people what they knew about uterine fibroids they were so ignorant.

It didn’t help that my friends spoke of their mothers and aunties having fibroids.

It didn’t help that I seemed to be the only young girl at the clinic among middle-aged women.

Did I do something wrong? Am I less of a woman?

My doctor advises that I have kids soon. Possibly in the next two years. My chances of becoming infertile he says increases with time.

I know my essence as a woman is not defined by motherhood or pregnancy. I know that. I’ve learnt that. I’ve always told people that.

At this point, it’s hard to believe that I am not less of a woman.

I feel less.

16 comments On Guest Contributor Dede: Please God, let me be fertile…

  • I’m really sorry to hear this Dede. I’m happy that you know that your condition doesn’t make you less of a woman. I know that it’s hard to factor it in & I can definitely relate. I don’t have fibroids but I was born with a disability/deformity which means apart from frequent hospitalizations, I can never do things other people do. I can never wear heels or skirts. I usually walk with a limp & I have come close to having an amputation several times. It used to make me feel less of a woman/ human being, especially when I’d go out & people would stare but I also had to learn to stay positive. I’d like to say that don’t give up on having kids because sometimes, the people with the greatest odds against them are the ones who end up with kids. My friend had twins 2 months ago, despite having 3 operations on her fibroids, a series of miscarriages for 5 years & a husband with low sperm count (go figure!). And even if it gets to a point where you’re unable to have kids, you’ll figure it out ok? One step at a time. It was really brave of you to share this, thank you.

  • This is such an interesting post. I’m 28 now and I’ve had 2 procedures already to remove fibroids from my womb in the past 5 or so years. I experienced the most horrific cramps about a month ago and I’ve practically been on painkillers since. Was told very calmly by the doctor that I had some more fibroids which seemed to be the source of the pain and also getting pregnant soon will be a good idea! And I don’t even have a boyfriend yet!! I’ve found myself saying that prayer too these days. Dear God please let me be fertile…

  • Dede I’m sending virtual hugs to you. Thank you so much for sharing this story with us. I don’t quite know what to say…my sense is you’ll be alright, you’ll be just fine in the long run…whether you have children or not. *love*

  • @ Nana: I can only imagine how helpless you must feel when you’re in pain, thinking about your life & a doctor tells you to get pregnant within like a year! my heart really goes out to you & Dede & all other persons living with this condition. Seriously, if it were not for what I witnessed my friend going through, I had no idea how painful, inconvenient & challenging this condition could be. I remember watching Gifty anti’s program when she invited a woman who had dealt with fibroids to come & talk. I wish there were more of such programs out there to get people sensitized. Our society is also too focused on marriage & fertility & people try to make you feel worthless if you either aren’t married or you have no child. It’s going to be ok & I thank God both of you are brave enough to share your stories.

  • Please pardon me for typing so much but this matter bothers me. Is it responsible for our doctors to also be urging people on to get pregnant just because it may be difficult for them to do so later? I feel like it adds to the pressure. I wonder how you feel Dede & Nana. I don’t know a lot about medicine but I’d have preferred if they would have told you that your chances of getting pregnant will decrease after X years & left you to make up your mind rather than suggesting you get pregnant. I don’t know, it feels wrong to me since there are so many factors that go into making a child & so you can’t just push someone to have one immediately as hard as the situation may be.

  • Ekuba the way I understand it, doctors urging you to get pregnant is not necessarily because you might not be able to do so later. Some people – like my sister – have fibroids WITH pregnancies.

    However for some others – and this is the way it was explained by my uncle a surgeon – nature abhors a vacuum so it will create something if there is nothing in the womb. It’s most common among the late twenties to fifties group. And you’re more likely to have it if you haven’t already got children. It’s rare among teens, yes, but not impossible.

    I will say though that you should try to not worry so much, Dede. Stress WILL NOT HELP. And as a testament to God/Fate/The Universe, my sister has 4 kids. With ALL of them she has had fibroids during the pregnancy so that she could not have any of them vaginally. She is still alive. So are her children.

    Keep your chin up, Dede. You will be fine.

  • Oh, ok I get it Nnenna thanks for the explanation. I thought they were just unnecessarily pressuring the women & I felt quite worried about it because Dede is quite young. I thought they were just saying it because we’re a fertility culture & everyone pushes women to conceive- like the nurses at the family planning center in Ghana who kept telling me to have a child anytime I went to the center.

  • Thank you so much for your support. Yeah i’m keeping my chin up.

    @ Ekuba and Nana, wow. Honestly, whenever i hear of other people’s stories then i feel as if i complain for nothing. I definitely feel that there needs to be more educational programmes on such issues. Most people are clueless about stuff like this.
    As for the pressure, it’s one reason why i’m packing up and going for graduate studies outside. I’m tired of the ‘when are you heeding the doctor’s advice’. As if i can just go shopping for kids. Plus the last thing i need is to have a baby when i am not ready for one.
    I think health professionals also need a different approach with such fertility issues. Like Ekuba said i personally think they should just lay out your options objectively for you rather than pushing for a particular option which in this case is to have kids immediately.
    There has to be more education though especially for young girls. I’ll bet there are a lot of young ladies with horrific periods thinking it is normal.
    Thanks for the support though. 🙂

  • @ Dede: seriously, it might be a fab decision for you to do to do graduate studies outside if you want to! Before coming to the US to do graduate studies, I had lived in Ghana all my life & when you’re in that position, it’s difficult to realize how much society is pushing you to marry & have kids- everyone does it subtly or not so subtly- doctors, nurses, your parents, family, friends. For goodness sakes, it got to a point I couldn’t even go to weddings anymore because the officiating priests would make snide remarks about unmarried people. three-quarters of my classmates were married & I felt like a failure since they’d come to events with their hubbies & cute kids in tow. It got to a point where I was always fighting with my boyfriend (& breaking up with him) because after dating him for 6 months, I felt that he should be able to tell me a date when we’re going to get married 🙂 bottomline is that since I came to the States for graduate studies, my view on these things have shifted because the society here doesn’t push people so much to get married & have their ‘own’ kids. I’ve met people here who’ve been single for ever & are living happy, fulfilled lives. Their singleness gives them a level of freedom & has allowed them to accomplish so much & they look great! Only last week sunday at church, a white couple came with their adopted Asian kids & the family looked so beautiful that I wanted to adopt too! lol. So I definitely think it’s a point to consider if it’ll provide the break you need from all the unnecessary pressure. lots of love.

  • I am a frequent visitor on this blog but today I feel the urge to comment. I also discovered I had fibroid at the age of 21. I was lying down watching tv n playing with my belly when I felt a lump. it had obviously been there a while for me to feel the lump. It was a total shock when the doctor informed me it was fibroid. and like you it was advised that getting pregnant should curtail it after this one had been taken out. I didn’t want to take it out so I prayed and hoped but it only grew bigger with painful and heavy periods that messed up my beads. after uni I just had to take it out. I was lying in recovery when a doctor brought another colleague doctor to see me and mentioned how the fibroid had been the size of a 4month foetus. The thing is I am incredibly tiny people aren’t sure whether I’m a kid or an adult. But my insides seems to totally have a different perception or make up for my outward appearance by being a lot older. I had my period at 9 yrs..yep another shocker and I was totally ignorant of what a period even was. I believe it is also a factor to having fibroid that early. I’m currently 31 with no boyfriend in sight, and the fibroid has there about 2 years now, it was hurting a couple of weeks ago, but iv told myself no more surgeries till I’m taking a baby out along with tht fibroid. I would definately love to have babies. so Dede and Nana lets keep the faith. we will be well.

  • Dear Dede, how brave of you to do the procedure and to tell the world your story. I know a number of women, in Ghana, who have postponed the surgery several times and one women for whom the delay proved fatal. Getting out of here is a very good idea at this time. Take your time to process and deal with what you’ve been through. Know also that you have several options, including choosing not to have children. I wish you all the best. You’ll be alright, in fact you already are!

    There has to be more research on fibroids, particularly on why it so disproportionately affects women of African descent. Researchers in the United States looking at the number of African-American women sufferers erroneously conclude that the high rate is linked to poverty. But here in Ghana and Africa, women from diverse economic and social backgrounds get fibroids. I think 2 out of 4 women in Ghana will have fibroids at some point in their life. Most Ghanaian women have positive family histories for fibroids. Sometime I think that the prevalence of the disease has some racial component? Dede’s case is the first early-onset that I’ve heard and though rare, there must be more young women with fibroids in Ghana. We need a whole lot of research on us and fibroids. And we need other ways of dealing with disease that doesn’t rely solely on surgery. More education, more early detection. I don’t know! It seems fibroids has become a fact of life for Ghanaian women and the medical establishment accepts that! And I don’t mean to write a long comment. It’s just that I’ve always thought a lot about fibroids.

  • Dede — thank you for sharing your story and I wish you all the best as you move forward. Whatever decision you make – it will be the right one.

    You are not less of a woman – you define what womanhood means to you and you live your life accordingly – change it when you want to or keep it the same as long as you are true to yourself. You already are an amazing woman.

  • Dede – I just want to ask you to trust God for a miracle. Get closer to Jesus and He will take care of your situation.

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  • Dede I feel for you, but I’m glad you had the option of having your fibroids removed. It must have been quite hard having to face issues of fertility when you are so young and not ready to start your family.

    I think its wonderful that you are going away for school. It will take you away from family and friends who can put unnecessary pressure on you.

    One thing I would say is count your blessings. I mean focus on the ways in which you are luckier. Be thankful it was detected early enough for it to be removed. That you had the financial means to have it taken care of and that you have the option of going away to get away from prying eyes.

    On whether or not you are fertile, you can only hope and pray. I just turned 30 and I have undergone 3 unsuccessful IVF/ICSI treatments. As far as I know the only problem I have is cysts on my ovaries which many women don’t even know they have, and yet go on to have many babies. I try and focus on the fact that I have a very supportive husband, non judgemental inlaws and the health and financial ability to have tried treatment.

    So, from a not quite fertile yet woman, hold your head up and luve life.

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