She Told Me I Wasn’t a Whole Person
I was sixteen years old and hadn’t yet had my first period. Even though I wasn’t that old, I was really worried.
The doctor who examined me said that the ultrasound scan showed that I didn’t have a womb, and that parts of the female sex organs weren’t properly developed. That was the first time I heard about Mayer–Rokitansky–Küster–Hauser syndrome. The doctor told me it was something I’d been born with, and that it is a syndrome that affects almost 1 in 5000 girls.
I wasn’t complete
My parents didn’t seem surprised when they heard about it. I still wonder if they had found out when I was born. Anyway, it was a nightmare for me to find out. My mother talked to me about the situation, and I think my father also sincerely wanted to, but I wasn’t ready to talk to him.
I walked around with a sanitary towel in my handbag
I was just a teenager, and anything that made me the least bit different from the others made me feel like an outsider. It didn’t help to hear that I could only be a complete person if my body functioned physically, as it does for most women.
I had really looked forward to the day when I could tell my friends that I too had my first period.
Now I knew that that day would never come. Nevertheless, I carried sanitary towels in my handbag, fully aware that they would never be used. I carried them so that I could appear normal. Instead, however, they were a constant reminder that I was not a complete person. Whole – that’s what the others around me were.
I’ve always thought of myself as a woman, and the question of gender was something I had never thought about, even though some people do struggle with the question of their gender identity. After the news came out, the question I had was whether I was a complete person, and that’s a difficult question to tackle when you’re only sixteen. Five months later I was nearly killed in a serious car accident.
This made my life more difficult, and I sank deeper and deeper into my own thoughts. Slowly but surely I was able to accept that I would never experience having children.
Today I think that my self-worth and identity shouldn’t be mixed up with others’ expectations and definitions of what it is to be a whole person. On the contrary, God’s love and acceptance are without limits and are not based on what we do or how we are. Every single person has their own unique story, and experiences life in ways no one else does. Even though I felt different, slowly but surely I recognised that everyone is unique – each in their own way. This made it easier for me to accept that I couldn’t build my life on what I thought others expected of me, instead I learned to think that it is God who gives me my real identity.
My purpose in life isn’t dependent on me bearing children, and being a parent isn’t the only way to ‘be fruitful and fill the earth.’ In fact, I’ve discovered that there are other things I can offer the world around me. My self-worth and identity aren’t about whether I have a womb or not, I now know that being different doesn’t mean that I am not a complete person. In addition, if I do want children, I could adopt one of the many millions of orphans in the world.
Now, I know that some people question the goodness of God when they experience difficult things, and I understand that this is natural. But for one reason or another I’ve never doubted God’s goodness. I also know that some people will understand my condition as a sign that we live in a fallen world, but I can’t accept that explanation either.
On the other hand, I think of my condition as a result of a risk God took when He created the world, that He created it almost unfinished, so that mankind could be part of the process of developing and shaping it with Him.
He created us in His own image, and our mandate is to continue the process of creation with Him. One example of this is that modern medicine has made my life easier to live, doctors won’t try to ‘repair’ my body, but on the other hand medical science is a divine expression for creativity, and part of the fulfilment of the task mankind was given at the Creation, to ‘fill the earth and subdue it.’ At the same time this doesn’t mean that I’m sure I know everything, nor that I have answers to all my questions. Not at all.
Thousands of women
Instead of being an outsider, I think that my story is unique. This is a story of how I will probably never be pregnant and give birth to a biological baby. But this doesn’t mean that I can’t live with my own story. It’s just different.
Therefore, I can identify with the thousands of women who can’t have children, and my condition enables me to understand other women’s unique stories. Why? Because I’ve felt the same way, I’ve also felt different.
I don’t actually need to be like everyone else in order to be whole. Perhaps that was never the idea.
This article is written by a woman in her thirties. Published with permission from Mot Målet (YWAM Norway’s magazine).