No, I'm Not Pregnant and I'll Never Be

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.

  • Brittney Ann McElman

    Yep, I cried. <3 Wish I could hug you.

  • Katie Epps

    This article made my eyes water! Very touching.

  • Rob Harris

    So when I saw this post/picture I thought it was gonna be something funny….cause tba pic is awesome. I wasn’t gonna read it cause I’m lazy but I was gonna post something funny (or my version of funny) but decided I’d better read it first. Glad I did cause Ida felt like an ass. I can’t come close to knowing what that must feel like ao I cannot sympathise with you completely but I know a little about loss and I wanted you to know that this post touched me.

    • Molly McGlynn

      I think you win my favourite dude of the week award. Thank you.

      You can still make jokes about me giving birth to a paper baby, however.

  • Celeste Fusco

    Many transsexual women struggle with that uterus-less identity as well..and they’re still 100% women. Gender is in between your ears, not your legs.

  • Chris Topher

    This is the type of subject where men attempt to be kind and sympathetic but screw it up when we open our mouths or begin typing. Women would then reply would you just shut up and listen to my story that is all I want! I will say thank you for sharing a bit of your life in this post Molly. I will add to Brittney’s comment by saying I will keep in my prayers that your dreams, hopes and happiness come true.

  • Candice MacNeale Lazecky

    “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” I was lucky enough to be able to give birth to two beautiful babies, but I knew that I loved them before they were conceived. I knew that I loved them when I was 7, and took my Cabbage Patch doll everywhere. They were born in my heart and so are yours. That’s all that really matters:)

  • Maggiee Underwood

    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.

  • Catherine Bruno

    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.

  • Nicole Ní Ríordáin

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

  • Jessica Hizey Chiles

    Thank you for sharing. <3

  • Courteney Georgina

    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.

  • Whitney Millard

    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.

    • Molly McGlynn

      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

  • Liza Baron

    Thanks for sharing x

  • Elisabeth Miller

    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.

  • Lisa-Marie Borras

    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!

  • Britt Bulens

    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

  • Ali Moriel

    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.

  • Chris Hamm

    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.

  • Jena Evans-Turnbull

    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.

  • Mary Frances Shutes

    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.

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