I received my first home. A place that nurtured my existence until I was ready for the world. I am forever grateful for that first home, my mother’s uterus. To ease any concerns, my mom’s uterus is perfect. It has no disease, no tumors, there was nothing wrong that she had to have it removed. My mom chose to have her uterus taken out of her body. My mom’s reproductive organs have always been healthy and free of disease. While the uterus removal was elective, it was necessary for the type of repair to other organs.
Now, the story:
As I said goodbye to my mom at a Christmas party last year she leaned in and said, “I’m having a hysterectomy.” I squealed with delight and immediately said, “can I have it?” Then quickly realized what my mom really said and horror filled me. “What? Why? What happened? Are you sick?” And on and on came the questions. After she assured me she and her uterus were fine, she said it was elective in order to repair other issues. So I asked again, “can I have your uterus?” I am pretty sure she was stunned and maybe a little repulsed but said we can talk about it later. Later came and she had settled into the idea of giving me her uterus as long as it was ok with the doctors. (Watch Wendi lose her shit.) WHAT? It’s your uterus. You own it. No one can tell you what you can and can not do with YOUR uterus. Convincing my mom she had to be bold and ask for it was a process. She had to realize that no one else could tell them, but her, what to do with her uterus because she was the owner. And she did it. She asked and rolled her eyes using her crazy midwife daughter as the excuse. I was happy to be the scape goat but in those moments the thought started – why are we so disconnected from our bodies? Why is it wrong or shameful or even disgusting to ask for our body?
In the last few years, bringing your placenta home after birth has become a normal conversations in certain communities. I rejoice that people are honoring this organ that literally gave life to the baby they grew inside of their body. But what about all the other parts of is that help us live our life to the fullest? What about all the sacred wombs that are carelessly, thoughtlessly discarded to the incinerator with out a moment of thanks or praise. Not my home. Not my mom’s uterus.
My dad retrieved the uterus from the hospital days after the surgery because “it had to go to pathology.” It actually didn’t “have” to but I did not want to tackle that as well. My mom had already been brave to ask for it, didn’t want her to fight the battle of it not going to pathology. Anyway, back to my dad. My dad was pretty disgusted and even put it in the back seat as he drove so not to have to think about what was in the car with him. Again, the sad thought of how we have become so disconnected.
I opened it up with some hesitation of what I might see. The fluid it was in was murky and tinged a red-brown. The biggest shock, that I was not prepared for, was so many pieces floating around. It was hacked to shreds. Emotions were bubbling so I wrapped it back up and tucked it away until I could have enough time to actually sit with my home. Awhile later I found the moment. I took my mama’s uterus and I sat under the trees in my front yard and I unpacked it all. As I lifted each and every piece, I wept. I wept and wept and wept. There was so much flooding my mind. Gratitude for my first, warm home of love. Horror of what our medical system does to precious organs. Grief at our disconnectedness with body and life. Wonder that my midwife hands could hold a uterus. Curious about all the parts. Astonishment at how small and how old this uterus looked. But mostly just overwhelming honor at this organ that produces, sustains, and protects life. I wept for quite awhile until I could not resist the urge to put it back together. This poor, torn apart, shredded, sliced up flesh. My midwife hands aches to put it back together. I ran into my office and grabbed my sutures and instruments and began to work. I sutured for hours. Some pieces were easy to put together, others, literally, impossible. When I felt done enough I placed the finish pieces along with all the random pieces I could not connect in a jar and filled it with formaldehyde. (I am pretty sure you can buy anything on Amazon.)
My first home now sits on my shelf. I am reminded daily to honor all life, all bodies, all things. In a strange way this whole experience was a part of my continued healing. Healing as a woman. Healing as a daughter. Healing in relationships. Healing to my own body. Healing towards my mom. For all of that, my gratitude is beyond comprehension.