No, I'm Not Pregnant and I'll Never BeMolly McGlynn

The Closest to Real Labor the Author Will Ever Come To

I’ve wanted to write this for a long time. I have wanted to post this on this website and scream it at every woman who asks me for a tampon (I know it’s not your fault and no, I don’t have one, I think they’re for pranks), guy I’ve ever slept with who asks why I’m not on the pill and my doctor when she asks me when my last period was and then promptly remembers then says, “Oh, God, I’m sorry. Stupid me. I have a lot of patients.” Thank you for bearing through the angry intro. I can begin now.

On my way home today, I stopped at my local health food store to buy some chia seeds (not to be confused with pets) and while paying, the 60-something earth mother cashier looks at my stomach (clothed in a billowy shirt or “moo moo” in her defense) and says, “You must be due soon!” I looked at her and then at my food selection. No, the amount of food I was appropriate for one single person and did not involve ice cream. What pregnant woman eats CHIA SEEDS in her last trimester? I would like to meet this woman and introduce her to soft serve yogurt by the pound. I looked down at my belly. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” I said to her. Her jaw dropped and she muttered something along the lines of “I thought…” Not even a sorry. “No, I am not pregnant,” I tell her.

I did not feel like I was punched in the (bloated) gut because I thought my regular, brutal boot camps aren’t working or the keg party I went to on Friday is physically manifesting itself on my stomach. I felt like I was punched in the gut because I will never be pregnant. I have a “I’m sorry I wasn’t able to join you, it sounded like fun! Love, Uterus” note in my abdominal cavity. My DNA determined me a woman, but my body never got the memo and took my uterus away at that stage in the zygote/embryo/fetus (oh, biology 100 where art thou now) stage when all these little details are determined. I do not have a uterus and have never gotten my period. That feeling when you were in junior high and got that Kotex “you’re going to start mysteriously bleeding, but it kind of seems like a nonstop Lisa Frank party” kit and you stare at it like an asteroid just fell from the sky and you are slightly excited and terrified that the world is ending kind feeling never materialized into a feeling of being lied to? Not for me.

When I was 17, I was diagnosed with something called Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser Syndrome, or MRKH. I had to copy and paste the long form because I barely remember what the damn thing is called. I had gone through puberty normally, developed breasts, hair and all the other things that traumatize you upon their arrival on your body as a teen, but I was missing one little bloody thing. My mother, bless her, who was a much more petite human than I, assured me that I was just like her and she didn’t get hers until she was 17! She finally caved and took me to a terrible doctor in New Jersey who I really hope has retired or generally f**ked off the face of the medical world for her insensitivity in treating me with a (thankfully) non-detrimental – but psychologically heartbreaking and identity-shattering – diagnosis.

They gave me hormones to see if that would kick my lazy ones into gear to no avail. I was given an ultrasound in which the technician slowly went over the same section on my abdomen with furrowed brows. “What is it?” I asked, hoping she knew. She could not say. This is not good. They put me in a CAT scan. They said I could play my favorite CD.  Naturally, I chose This Desert Life by Counting Crows (Adam Duritz, thank you for aiding my emotional self-indulgence via musical accompaniment from the years 1996-2003). I dare anyone with claustrophobia to sit in a CAT scan with ‘Colorblind’ playing. You will understand the true meaning of psychological warfare. Ryan Phillipe didn’t even meet me on the other side – bastard. Guess I needed an escalator.

Back to the evil doctor. My mother brought me in. I remember she kept readjusting the strap of her watch. I, however, was calm. I knew I wasn’t “normal” and I was almost more worried how she would handle whatever they told me. The doctor started reading from a giant book that was larger than if every Tumblr post in the history of time professing reasons why Ryan Gosling is the perfect man was bound in one place. She put on her glasses, flipped to page 7,037, bumbled through the pronunciation of the syndrome as she “only heard about it in med school once” and abruptly told me that I have no uterus, may have uncomfortable sex my entire life, but am lucky that I am not deaf or it is not “worse”, whatever that means. She closed the book carelessly and my mother wept immediately. My mother was a woman who had raised five children and whose identity was largely based on birthing humans. What woe I faced, as she saw it. Her reaction is what is deeply impressed on me – she knew the tragedy that lay ahead. Maybe not now, maybe not in college, but at the health food store when I am 26 and some lady calls me pregnant and she is no longer alive to call.

I remember a few days after the diagnosis, I lay in my bed in the dark, weeping and curled up cradling my stomach. I felt as though I was mourning what never was. How do you mourn what does not exist? What is the process for that? My mother came in and tried to comfort me. I hissed at her, “You don’t know what this feels like.” My mother, the soft spoken, quiet therapist she was, replied back with a retaliation that jolted me, “Don’t you tell me I don’t know what loss is.” She pulled back her blouse to show me the scar where her breast once was. We sat in silence in the dark, both missing bits and pieces of ourselves. She hugged me and I felt a bit more whole.

The events of the past ten years and the story of my relationship to my body and sex and my inability to bear my own children is perhaps another post or maybe even a book. While I maintain an extremely complex relationship with my body and will perhaps always struggle with what it means to be a woman, I will continue to explore that identity in terms of what it means to me – something we all have to do. As for motherhood – there are few things I know in this life. One of them is this: one day, in some way, I will look down a little face that I will call my own and I will say “thank you” for the way things are and not what they could have been.

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  1. I’d just like the say that I was recently diagnosed the same thing yesterday and reading this helped me so much although I haven’t lived through it as long as you have. It’s already been so emotionally draining in less than a day but I’m hoping I’ll be able to push through this. The way you wrote it sounds a lot like my doctor, she was very kind and trying to shine a humorous light on things. Anyway, thanks so much for writing this, and I hope others who are dealing with the same thing can find this too. It definitely comforted me :)

    • If you ever want to chat about it off of a comment thread, add me to facebook or find me on my tumblr. It helps to talk to people who know where you are coming from sometimes :)

  2. I cannot tell you what this meant to me. I have the same condition as you, and found out when I was 15. It shook my world. But like you I was more worried about the guilt and sorrow my mother was feeling. The only thing that held me together was the deep knowledge that this happened to me for a very specific reason. I’ve always been incredibly nurturing and dreamed of the day when I would be pregnant. At that time I handled the situation with positivity and humor, just focusing on the convenience of my situation because i honestly couldn’t confront the gravity of my reality. Very recently I’ve had the strength to begin to grieve for what will never be, like i will continue to do for the rest of my life, but you captured so many of my own words an emotions in this posting. I know i will be a mother, and that my children will be so magnificently apart of me that there will not be the tiniest gap in our connection. I have also come to realize that I am a mother every day, in many different ways. It gives me comfort to remember these things. It is still one of the hardest things to accept and forgive in a way. I’m 19 now and about a week and half ago my next door put her hand on my stomach and said “This isn’t what i think it is, is it?”I was astonished and truly irked. I was hit on so many different levels, the deepest one she knew nothing about. I realized at that moment that I will be dealing with that question for a very long time and so every time it is asked i can take a moment for myself and remember that I will have a very special journey into motherhood, supported with wisdom, faith, humor and so so much love. I truly appreciate you sharing this, I’ve never heard from another woman who shares this specific condition. I guess we are a pretty rare treasure ;) Stay so strong and see the immense beauty you are blessed with reflecting back at you in the eyes of the most beautiful baby(or babies :). We are already mothers to ourselves. And in any way we choose to be. That space is meant to grow and sustain all life. But i do understand the weight it carries. Seriously thank you for being brave enough to share this tho. It was a wonderful gift to lots of people and especially to me. <3

  3. I’m crying. I don’t know why. I thought I’d dealt with these emotions ages ago but this post and the comments just made me feel like I am not alone.

    I was 18 and had never had my period; I looked like a small pixie boy with no boobs, cheekbones or hips. I went to the doctor and had a multitude of tests and I was told by an unfeeling endo that I have an underdeveloped uterus, tiny ovaries, low estrogen and a half empty pituitary gland and as a result of the lack of hormones I had osteoporosis and my bone structure had not fused and was that of a 12yr old. I was told it was highly unlikely that I could conceive or then carry a child.

    The doctors thought it could have been Turners Mosaicism as I also had kidney issues and eyesight issues but didn’t feel it necessary to test me for it or it could have been a result of a cyst on my pituitary gland as there was evidence of scar tissue. I was placed on The Pill to get hormones into my body and bones. I grew, developed boobs and turned into a raging bitch. The hormones were not responding well and I had heavy break through bleeding every week from my body rejecting the hormones.

    I went back to the doctor and I was tested for Turners because I couldn’t not know and wonder what it was and it was found to be negative. The doctors now believe I had a cyst on my pituitary gland that burst around the ages of 14 – 16 that has caused the issues. The doctors gave my no options except The Pill for my hormone treatment so instead I went off the treatment it at the age of 21.

    When I found out I couldn’t have children I wasn’t really fussed, I was 18 and more into partying then baby making but 2yrs ago my brother had a daughter and my friends started having kids. It really makes you feel shit when your friends talk about how they finally felt like a real woman after childbirth. I grieved for the children I could never conceive and I hated my body and my family for giving me my DNA. Now I’ve resigned myself to never having children but if I do wish to have kids down the track I’ll be adopting or fostering and they’ll still be mine.

    The issue with sex I can kind of relate. When I was on The Pill I had the biggest sex drive of my life, when I stopped taking it, it was gone and I personally couldn’t be fussed if I never have sex again in my life. I never discussed that part with my doctor but now I’m wondering if it is hormone related.

    TL;DR Thank you for your post and it’s a comfort to know there are other people going through similar issues

  4. This article was absolutely touching. At the age of 13 I had surgery to remove a tumor from my fallopian tube. I suffered many complications to the rest of my reproductive system and doctors, before and after the surgery, didn’t have very many answers for me. At such a young age it really affected my identity. Yes, I clearly wasn’t planning to have kids any time soon, but I felt the loss that I knew I’d have. It made me not feel like a woman. And I have already had issues identifying myself with others. When I was born I was a twin, but due to complications my sister died during delivery and I completely lost my right leg. And in the four years after my fallopian tube issue, I had two more major surgeries for freak medical ailments. And you know what I learned in all of it? God bless my mother. I went through a lot but I feel she went through so much more by my side, before and after my lifetime. And it changed my outlook of “I feel less like a woman” to “I can be the mightiest of women, as long as I stay strong like my own mother.”

  5. oh and my boyfreind was adopted at 9 days old… ..that is his MOM…they have that relationship a natural mother and child would have. He always says my mom…i never think about him being adopted neither does he. he is so good to her and cares so much about her . adopted or not they will be your babies untill forever

  6. This is sad! ;( minus the winkey..like im not making a sarcastic sad face. this is genuinely sad! I grew up thinking i would lose my eyesight and need a seeing eye dog …i have macular degeneration in my left eye and its lazy or my right eye is lazy i forget..this basically makes vision super blurry and non existent in my left eye….and the beginnings of catarax in my right eye…depth perception forget about it…seeing below me whats straight in front of me ..nope..equals knocking down random toddling babies..oopsie. i get scared super easily because i dont see them coming from behind ..right or left. The worst is i just started painting 2 yrs ago and recently found out bout the catarax..so im sure it will get worse so i always feel like theres this time limit on my eyes and i better get all the looks i can absorb in w/ my loves ones faces./ art/ beautiful things in life etc. I have 2 daughters 8/5mos…it would make me sad to be a old lady not being able to look back on baby pics..or see my grandchildrens faces etc. And being pregnant sucks …giving birth is not a natural or beautiful experience..its painful…you feel like you cant endure anymore pain…i seriously wish i could have foregone the birth process and my kids could have just been dropped in the window by a stork. Why cant it be like when i was litttleee!!! that sucks that people ask if you are preggers…i had super terrible visable acne in hs and college and riding the bus strangers would say mean things about my acne and i would just cry and cry and cry. like huge acne…i still feel ugly kinda acne 12 yrs later! My boyfreind is Deaf and he was teased his whole life about his hearing…when he was little he wore double hearing aids and kids would push him and flick them off his ears and call him mean names. i was teased about my 4 eyes ..i had to wear a patch over my right eye hoping it would help my left eye get stronger..i was a pirate in the 3rd grade and it didnt help. I feel your pain!!! the whole missing a piece of you people randomly talking crap and it just tearing you up inside. i am happy to say with my visual impairement and his hearing impairement we make one whole person :) so at least i found someone who accepts me..and he found someoen who accepts him . I know you will find your self acceptance ..self love..and “little face” <3 xoxox sugar..sorry if i ramble must drink more coffeeeee

  7. This is the most wonderful post! I love when laughter and tears combine. I’m so glad to see some other women with Turner’s Syndrome commented, too. I’ve known since I was 13 that kids might not come so easy, but luckily I also know that no matter how a child comes into my life he or she is already loved by my whole family.

  8. I hope you know you are a lot more than the things you don’t have. I think this post will speak to a lot of people for many different reason, Thank you so much for sharing this.

  9. I’m not a woman and can never understand what this feels like. I can sympathize though. I,too didn’t get all the right hormones at the right time during my development. Thankfully all my issues were fixed, as much as possible, when I was a baby. The big kicker for me is I am infertile. It is tough realizing you can’t have kids, but it’s very nice to know I’m not the only one. You’ve helped me greatly by letting me know I’m not alone and that it’s ok to be as I am. I loved your picture too, definitely made me laugh. Thanks for being a public voice for all of us.

  10. I have turners syndrome as well. These situations can feel very lonely at times and for the first time in years, someone has a story that sounds quite similar to my own. Honestly, I can’t thank you enough for writing this.

  11. The first HG post to ever make me cry. Such a brave story to tell. I love your humor and your way with words. I’m so impressed by you! <3

  12. I hve turners syndrome (baasssiiccllyyy i was born without ovaries because nature decided that i was a girl just missed some growth information out i.e. puberty!) i can prettttyy much deal with most things that come with it i.e. being shorter than everyone else (i’m short but sweet!!) being deaf and having a underactive thyroid are all manageable/ been treated in the past so i don’t let it get to me…ish…then there is the great big elephant in the room…infertility. i am single at the moment and only 24 so i’m in no hurry to go down the road of looking at treatments avalible but yet when i think of having children i realise that nothing is still certain or should i just accept natures plan for my life and not even go there, i sure i would save myself alot of heartache.and so it goes on. i think for me the hardest thing is not knowing whether to grieve and if so what for for the children i will never have or for the fact that i can’t pass on my family’s DNA that i potentially won’t see my mum and dad being the amazing grandparents i know they will be.

    Molly your article has put so brilliantly into words what alot of young women feel about this issue i shed a tear! thank you for being so brave!

  13. Oh, thank you so much for sharing. I found out six weeks ago that I’m infertile (I’m 32). I have Primary Ovarian Insufficiency; basically, I have no eggs left and I’m experiencing a lot of the symptoms of menopause. My only consistent life-long dream has been to be a mom. I know I can adopt or could even use donor eggs, but it was just so sudden – an option that I always assumed I’d have is gone. I worry about how guys I date will handle this information. While I think adoption is wonderful (and know a lot of adopted people, including my mom, aunt and cousin), some guys don’t go for it. I also have a mood disorder and this diagnosis has put me into a terrible depression. My therapist says I have to grieve, but it’s hard. Your humor is refreshing and it’s so nice to know that I’m not the only young person who is dealing with the knowledge of infertility.

  14. Thanks for sharing x

  15. Molly, your post found me, a woman who can’t have children of her own because of a different condition called Turner’s Syndrome. I was born without ovaries. (Put us together and you could totes have a baby! Inappropriate? Sorry) I have been waiting for a young woman to shine light on infertility for a long, long time. Your humor and bravery are life affirming and I just wanted to say thank you and I’m sorry and it sucks. I hope your journey to make peace is easier than mine has been. You’re beautiful.

    • Inappropriate? No way! Hilarious. I’m glad you like the piece and your comment touched me. I’m just really happy I’ve got myself two working arms and legs! Lots of love. xx

  16. My mom couldn’t have kids and she adopted myself and my little sister…
    She is my mother, I honestly consider her to be my mother in every way…I rarely consider the fact that someone else gave birth to me. My dad often says he forgets that we were adopted. It is 1000 times more womanly to be a good, caring, mother who tries her hardest (despite whether she gave birth or not) then to be someone who can biologically reproduce despite the fact that they are absolutely incapable of being a real mother.

  17. Thank you for sharing. <3

  18. That last paragraph is so well written and beautiful, it brought tears to my eyes.

  19. This was an amazing story. It caught my attention the minute I saw it and I knew that I just had to read it. I’m glad that I did. I hate when people just assume stuff. My friend got asked by the Christian people who come on my campus if she was a lesbian because her hair was short due to medical issues. If you don’t know, don’t ask.

  20. I feel the same way when people start talking about babies and the future.I’m still young and I’m not ready for a baby, but I have had a lot of ovarian problems.My doctor said I may never have children and it breaks my heart every time I think about it.I know it’s not the same as you, but I know how it feels to be hopeless and wonder what my real purpose in this world is, if not to create another being.I pray that out of all your hurt and frustration, that life will teach you something meaningful and that somehow you will find happiness in yourself and the way you are.I believe that we are made the way we are for a reason, so hopefully out of the pain you’ve had in your life, you will be able to change someone else’s.I say this because I can only hope the same things for my life.