The phone call I have been waiting for, for months, finally came on Thursday. The co-ordinator from my surgeon’s office called and told me that there was a cancellation, and my surgery has been scheduled for June 1st, instead of sometime in September. ‘NO. WAY?!’ I screamed in her ear. It was the best news I had received in a very long time, and it was impossible for me to contain my enthusiasm, so I didn’t even bother trying. Finally, I could see a flicker of light at the end of the very dark hell tunnel I have been living in and felt lighter than I have felt in a very long time.
What surgery am I having, you ask? Please allow me to take this opportunity to tell you. My surgeon is going to remove my asshole of a uterus from my body, by pulling it out my vagina.
WHAT? You asked! Well, okay, you didn’t, but you were probably wondering. Moving on.
An hour later I received an email from my surgeon with all the details. Listed under the type of surgery I was scheduled to have, I saw Laparoscopic Hysterectomy, which is what I expected to see, AND a Bilateral Salpingectomy. Huh? ‘What in the hell is that?’ I thought. So, I googled it and what I discovered is that my ovaries are coming out as well! I sent a message to my friend to tell her all the gory details, then proceeded to express my concern about the possibility I may grow a beard without my lady bits intact. ‘Oh for Pete’s sake, of course, you won’t!!’ was her response. Goddamn, I love her. Her assertion made me laugh and instantly ended my fear of growing unwanted facial hair. But then something weird and completely unexpected happened. I felt sad.
It hit me like a ton of bricks that I will never have a child. Look, I have never wanted kids, and am practically as old as dirt, but the point is, now I no longer have the option. In one month, the possibility of a little extra piece of me existing in this world – will be gone. And on Thursday afternoon, that thought made me feel mournful and left me wondering about what might have been. It was strange because I began thinking about a little being, a little person who has never existed – but one who could have. I was adopted, and though I love my family endlessly, I have always wondered what it would be like to see my reflection in someone else’s face. Would a child of mine have looked like me and had the same characteristics? Any child of mine I thought, would have been wonderfully weird and held my heart from the moment we met. My decision to not have kids was a conscious one, but as I sat at my desk processing what was going to happen to my body and what it meant, I also felt regret.
But then, later that evening, at home with my friends, I was reminded why I. SHOULD. NEVER. HAVE. KIDS.
After Dink (my bestie) had finished bathing Ben, I took him into his bedroom and got him ready for bed. My instructions were simple. Rub him with his coconut oil and get him dressed. ‘Oh goodie, I get to pick out his onesie tonight!’ I thought. I did those things, proudly passed him off to Dink’s wife for his bedtime and retired to my room, relishing in how helpful I had been.
Twenty minutes later Dink’s wife came down to my room.
Dink’s wife: Tan. Did you rub coconut oil on Ben before you put him in his pajamas?
Me: I sure did.
Me to myself: You’re welcome!
Dink’s wife: Did you take it from the tall plastic container with a pump that is beside his change table?
Me: Yeah, why?
Me to myself: Oh shit. Danger approaching.
Dink’s wife: THAT IS HAND SANITIZER!
Me to myself: Bottle. Coconut. WHAT? Where? Huh? It was? Noooo. I did WHAT?
Dink’s wife: Did you really rub it all over him?
Me: Umm, yes.
Dink’s wife: YOU HAND SANITIZED OUR BABY!
I am not kidding; she left a plume of smoke in her wake as she flew back up the stairs. I sat there utterly confused, wondering what the fuck was going on and what exactly I had done. So, off I went to make sense of the events that were unfolding upstairs. Ben was being stripped, and his bath prepped for the second time in less than an hour when I arrived.
Dink: Dude. You rubbed hand sanitizer all over him. What’s wrong with you?
That is a question her and I both know will forever remain unanswered, but in that particular moment, I struggled to find a logical explanation for my incredible lack of adequate adulting.
Me: I AM SORRY! I THOUGHT IT WAS COCONUT OIL!
Dink’s wife: Tan, it’s okay. But, babies have sensitive skin, and I need to wash it off, so he doesn’t react. I could smell it when I was putting him down and was thinking, why the hell does he smell like hand sanitizer. But seriously, you rubbed it everywhere?
She was looking at me with a gleam of hope, that the answer might be anything other than yes.
Me: Yes I did. You know how thorough I am.
Dink: Couldn’t you smell it?
Me: Well YEAH. It smells AMAZING and now so does he.
Me: AND, he has NEVER been cleaner, you guys!
Me to myself: I better start packing my bags in the morning.
Dink: Seriously. What. Is wrong with you?
I can’t even count how many times she has asked me that one question over the years.
Me: I don’t know. I did wonder why it was absorbing so quickly, though. So…
Dink’s wife: So let me get this straight. At NO point while you were slathering him with sanitizer did you think, ‘Hey, this smells like hand sanitizer? Like, at all?’
They both stood staring at me, waiting once again for the answer to come. The way they were looking at me, sent a very clear message that no normal person would be in my shoes right now. The concern I saw on their faces was alarming. And I knew I was their concern.
Me: IT DIDN’T SMELL LIKE HAND SANITIZER.
Me to myself: Maybe you guys shouldn’t have bought hand sanitizer that is so fragrant and lush. IT’S NOT MY FAULT.
Dink’s wife pulled Ben out of his bath, wrapped him in a towel, and then we all stood looking at each other shaking our heads. We couldn’t help but laugh at the stupidity of it all. We also had a very detailed discussion about the difference between coconut oil and hand sanitizer. Noted.
These guys totally get me, and that is why when I make mistakes, they love me through it. And they loved me through this. I couldn’t help but feel disappointed, though, in my failure to detect the smell of alcohol while I rubbed it all over their child. It didn’t smell anything like coconut oil – like, at all. What is wrong with me? The disappointment I felt in myself was palpable.
With my head down, I went back downstairs hoping the little guy was going to be ok. It was my job to ensure his safety, and I had failed to do so.
Half an hour later a text came through on my phone. And it made me feel better.
He was asleep, snug in his bed, completely unaware of the chaos that had earlier surrounded him. And I was relieved.
My mistake has become a big joke in this house and is a story I have no doubt will be told, for many years to come. And deservedly so.
Do I believe I would have been a bad mom? Absolutely not. And for the record, normally I can be trusted to take care of my niece and nephew, and have never inadvertently sanitized another human being before. But this incident happening on this day was just the reminder I needed. Having and raising kids was never in the cards for me. My purpose is something different. And though it won’t be bringing life into this world, I hope it will be just as profound.
No matter what I accomplish in my lifetime, these thoughts will always exist in the back of my mind, and from time to time I know I will think, ‘ What if?’
And though my destiny, my choice was never you, I will always wonder who you might have been.