We all have defining moments in our lives; ones that shape us into who we are at the very core. Experiences that drive change – sometimes good change, sometimes regrettable change – but change nonetheless. Over the course of my life I’ve had several such moments, and I’ve weighed in my heart and mind which are the ones that have changed me the most. Unquestionably, the day I accepted Jesus as my Savior at the age of 10 was a turning point in my life. When I was baptized two years ago, it was another moment of remarkable change in choosing who I wanted to be and what direction I wanted my life to take. But those were conscious choices to change – rooted in what has developed into an incredible faith-life that is spent fulfilling my purpose to glorify God.
Today, I’d like to take you back 30 years – to a day that changed my life, and I had no choice in the matter.
May 16, 1989 – my good friend Janine picked me up in the early morning and drove me to the hospital for a scheduled out-patient surgery. We arrived at the hospital and checked in for my diagnostic laparoscopy. When I woke up in the recovery room, I was given the news that I did not have a uterus. This is the day that MRKH entered my life.
I probably sum it up best on my Courageous page –
On that day I was told that I was born without a uterus, cervix, and the upper 2/3 of my vaginal canal – I had a birth defect that no one could see, and I would never be able to carry a child. On that day, my world quietly shattered. My hopes, my dreams, my plans, everything I thought I would or could do with my life…shattered. Yet, somehow my life continued. As I look back on my young life, the things I did and didn’t do…I look back at a young woman who learned to be Courageous.
In so many ways MRKH has shaped my life. I have grieved deeply over a life changed by MRKH. I have faced off with clinical depression. I have lived through abusive relationships. I have conquered fears. I have learned that not only does MRKH mean I won’t have a period or carry a child, but for me it also means I have kidney abnormalities and joint and skeletal issues as well. Over the course 30 years I’ve had 7 additional surgeries because my body wears out joints very quickly. When I was 23 the sports medicine doctor who operated on my shoulders said that I had the shoulder joints of a 60 year old. (um…thanks???) When I was 41 the podiatrist had to fuse my toe because the joint was so damaged there was no saving it. Last year (9 months ago actually) I had my spine fused because of degenerative disk disease and spondylolithesis.
But this post is not about the details of my entire medical history (there are plenty of posts about that in the archives) – this post is about looking back and reflecting on the day I was diagnosed with MRKH and how over time, I’ve made the best with what God has given me.
For starters, I’m still blessed to call Janine one of my best friends, all these years later. Turns out she struggled with infertility too, and ultimately adopted 2 beautiful children. She has been a solid rock in my world for some of the most trying times, and even when we go years without visiting in person, we still pick up right where we left off. She encourages me, prays with me, and reminds me that God puts the right people in our lives exactly when we need them.
While I ultimately never became a mother for all variety of reasons, I have spent my life working with youth and young adults in a wide range of rolls. I’ve been a mentor and not a mother. I’ve been a 4-H leader. I’ve worked with our teen-girls youth group. I’m blessed to be an aunt to 3 awesome nephews, and 2 beautiful nieces, one of which gave me a great-nephew too! I’ve worked for the last 15 years in a university setting where I work with students training to be teachers. This past spring one of my students said this to me, ” I love how you’ve developed your life story into one in which your career ultimately focuses so heavily on flowering integral intellectual fertility within the minds of countless kids, both within Washington and beyond. ” That one got me right in the feels. All of these experiences have given me the chance to influence many more lives in my lifetime. And I love that I can watch these folks grow and prosper in their own lives. I celebrate their victories, watch them graduate, get married, and I pray with them when things get rough.
As I’ve journeyed through my 40s, I’ve felt the impact of MRKH in a variety of ways. I’ve probably experienced the most change and healing during this time. I’ve accepted that I’m a mentor and not a mother. I’ve focused my life on physical and emotional healing. I’ve had 4 surgeries (both feet and my back) that have tested my resilience. I’ve fought through depression and grieved the death of some incredible people and beloved pets. I got a full sleeve MRKH tattoo. I’ve come to rely on the grace of Jesus to get through everything life throws at me. I found other MRKH sisters just like me, and ultimately partnered with the Beautiful You MRKH Foundation to create the Courageous Project. I can’t begin to tell you difference in my life that has made. Sharing my story. Raising awareness. Meeting some incredible women – Amy, Kay, Christina, Dawn, Hailee, Ang, Britt, Erin, Jaclyn, Kristen, Jen, Barb, Chrissy, Allison, MaryBetsy, Kristen, Lizzie, Ayala, Hanah, Krystina, Elyce, Christie, Lyndsay, Lindsey, Julie, and so many others. The love that we share, the way we support each other, the hugs, the laughs, the tears…it has been, and continues to, inspire and change me.
And when I truly embraced who I was – that is when I surrendered it all to God. I’ve grown as a woman and sought to serve God’s Kingdom. I’ve launched a women’s ministry through a Facebook group of MRKH sisters – MRKH Journey through Faith and started a women’s ministry group at our church we call Ladies’ Night In. I’ve been ordained and serve as Head of the Board of Deacons for our church. I’ve completed training and been commissioned as a Stephens Minister. I’ve never been as complete and fulfilled as I am today.
30 years after learning that I had Meyer Rokitanksy Kuster Houser Syndrome, today I’m living my best life.