Kaitlyn contacted me a few months back to document her process of acceptance and story of her ovary removal. Our time together was just so beautiful. She was brave and present and vulnerable which happen to be 3 components that make Ladygroove so successful in my opinion. People showing up as they are...celebrating themselves and the roads they have traveled. Her journey through ovarian cysts, laparoscopic surgery and finally the full removal of her left ovary (which she lovingly now refers to her right ovary as the one who has to go on dates stag) is inspiring and real. I found her words and her journey to be extremely relatable even though I have never had ovarian issues. Isn't it beautiful how so many of our experiences look different yet take us down the same road of self discovery and growth.
Here are a few snippets from her experience:
“Do you want to have kids?” Is not the same as “Do you want to be a mom?” I always knew I wanted to be a mother, although I never admitted it. I resented the question in high school and college. I am naturally nurturing, naturally a caretaker, but I wanted it to be my choice, not an expectation of a life goal. Being a mother does not mean you have to birth children. I had not even considered how much I may value my specific genetics, or how I felt about carrying a human to term. I became enamored with the idea. My artwork became more intimate, more delicate.
I felt like somehow, I had failed. I had failed my body. I had failed my family. If I had eaten differently, or lived differently, had settled down immediately or kept up with the doctor, perhaps this wouldn’t have happened. If I had more faith, or had been a better person, maybe I would not be losing the chance to do the one thing that is supposed to be the easiest thing in the world-become pregnant. When you go through 15 years of periods you hope there is some sort of payout (or I did). And while I was only facing the loss of one ovary, we didn’t know what could actually happen with the other. I felt stuck with a fate I didn’t choose, analyzing every choice I made in the past that led me to finding out something in my body was against me.
My identity as female, as a woman became a burden during this time. I believe in the choice of motherhood, but my choice did not seem good enough. And I wondered how I could be good enough in other aspects of my life. Who would want to be with me if I couldn’t have kids? It seemed so strange that such a tiny thing could determine so much. Ever since I was little, I had faced the statements regarding my gender as a challenge. Any idea that I could not do something- climb trees, be strong or intelligent, or travel alone, simply because I was female was an idea I was going to prove wrong. I could overcome anything because I was a woman, because I knew my abilities, not my sex, determined what I could accomplish. But I couldn’t do anything to overcome this. I could only go through it, and I was afraid of what was waiting for me.
It has been 8 weeks since I had my ovary removed, and I can’t say I feel much different physically from before. My reproductive organs do not make me a woman, and the lack of one does not make me less a woman, I know that. But after a week of looking at my red and swollen incision, I knew that somehow I needed to document what had happened. Part of me felt gross and broken, and part of me felt I needed to be able to show how I became the woman I am. You can feel like a victim of life or you can own it, and I wanted it to be my scar. My story. And my story is pretty damn beautiful.