Lena Dunham has written a well-crafted essay on her decision to have a hysterectomy at the age of 31 after the agony of endometriosis got too much. She had resigned herself to the belief that she “would never be able to be anyone’s mother” with the level of pain she was experiencing.
I’m one of the few people in the world who has never heard Lena Dunham speak (I’ve never seen Girls, or an interview with her), so I don’t really get the vitriolic backlash to her hysterectomy on Twitter (I will be exploring the Girls box-set at some point in the future for sure).
She has always wanted children:
The fact is, I never had a single doubt about having children. Not one, since the day I could understand how families were made. And pregnancy was the glorious beginning of that vision.
So how will she cope in the aftermath of her hysterectomy?
At first her mind and her spirit are in bits; she grieves, weeps “big stupid sobs“, finally allowed to say goodbye now that there is the time and space to do so.
But the fear that other people’s baby news would destroy her is unfounded: she finds that she can manage friends’ and acquaintances’ sonograms and social media feeds better than when she had her faulty uterus.
Many of my friends are pregnant, or trying. I was worried I’d handle it badly. Turn quietly bitter. Drink too much champagne at the baby shower. Sad old Aunt Lena.
Her own ghost children, the ones that might have been, still break her heart.
She ends on a resilient note though, which I like:
I wanted to know what nine months of complete togetherness could feel like. I was meant for the job, but I didn’t pass the interview. And that’s OK. It really is. I might not believe it now, but I will soon enough. And all that will be left is my story and my scars, which are already faded enough that they’re hard to find.
She’ll adopt, I think; I have the feeling she won’t be without children for long. (I hope that being rich, famous and privileged won’t give her unfair advantages that us civilians don’t have).
If she decided to do nothing, I think she’d be childfree and OK, which would be inspirational. (But probably won’t happen.)