Mom

Mom and I are not that close. We do not call each other very often. We do not share recipes or secrets. She is not the type who has strong emotional manifestations. Still, she never hesitated to lay on the operating table for my sake. I get that. Now. I would do everything in my power to make my children feel the same feeling they give me when I hold them in my arms. If they wanted me to.

Mom is a very rational woman. Pragmatic. She does not ruminate and ponder over things. And when she decides for something, she does it. As in the case of donating her uterus. I do not possess any of these characteristics. Nevertheless, I inherited a lot from my mother. The persistence. The pride. A little laziness. But also a great drive. An inner strength.

I do not remember asking the question. She, on the other hand, had followed my interest in uterine transplantation and the research at Sahlgrenska for a long time. She was well prepared. When the discussion about donation came up she just answered “of course”. And then there was no more to it.

Nowadays we share something bigger than recipes and secrets. The bond to my children and the adventure of how they were born. We don’t talk about it that much, but it’s there. We both have in common that we have removed the uterus. And although the circumstances were completely different, there are several things we can relate to. The scar on the stomach for example. And when we get the repetitiously question if we feel less female because the uterus is gone, then we both shake our heads laughing.

The ethical debate in the medical world, whether it is right to ask a mother to donate the uterus to her daughter and the risks involved in surgery, is not my place to comment. Such questions can only my mother answer. This is entirely her words:

“I did not feel forced to participate. And never at all, I felt pressured. I had plenty of time to think and opine, but above all to mentally understand and realize what awaited me. When my daughter asked the question I had already decided. However, I don´t think I would have donated to anyone entirely unknown – On the contrary, I would like to have some bond to the one I´m donating to.

To completely understand what an operation means, I don´t think anyone does. I had never been operated before and we were furthermore the first couple to do the operation in this research, so it was obviously difficult. There are risks and consequences in everything you do and my attitude for the most part is that you can not worry about them. Otherwise, there is not much to live for. In addition, I felt a great confidence in the medical team. I had a gut feeling that this will go well. It will be successful and it will be a baby.

If it had not worked, then we at least would have tried. I don’t miss my uterus at all. I have given birth to three very lovely daughters and I do not need it anymore. And considering the inconvenience I had with bleeding in the end, I was just glad to get rid of it. I do not regret it. I have donated something nice and got a good “reward” in the sense of two wonderful grandchildren.

I am for uterine transplantation. The more operations that are done, the safer they become. There are many who struggle with their infertility and who need this surgery. I want more people to know about it. “

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This expected gratitude

I wrote that I’m grateful. Which is true. I have a lot to be grateful for. Survival of the cancer. The transplantation. My family. But I do not go around and feel particularly unique or special. It’s just not me. I´m not one of the coolest or smartest on this earth, but it’s okay. I’m happy if I get to be an average Joe. Just ordinary.

There is some kind of expectation (conscious or unconscious, what do I know) of someone who recovers from a fatal disease (or something else traumatic) that you should be so grateful to be alive. To live every day like it’s the last and not take anything for granted. In a relatively short period of my life, I tried to live up to it. Grab hold of my dreams and try to make sure my life was as eventful and meaningful as possible. Tried to enjoy every single moment. Eventually, I landed in that it just made me more stressed. So I stopped pushing myself. Stopped doing what others thought I should do. I realized that I´m the happiest when I have no demands or expectations on me. Quality of life for me is being able to do nothing. Regardless of cancer.

Going from infertile to having a greatly desired child holds the same idea of ​​gratitude. I’ve heard so many involuntary childless women say “If I had a child, I would never complain or whine over it’s hard”. I was the same. Until I had children. I can not answer how mothers in a similar situation live their lives, but I myself can not live up to the picture that, as (formerly) involuntarily childless must be grateful all the time. I get angry at my children. I am sometimes tired, sad or something else that makes everything feel overwhelming. Then I whine. That does not mean I’m not grateful for what I have.

The entire process from start to where we are now, we have gone through by taking one step at a time. Tried to keep us on earth and done what makes sense to us. I’m not going to start doing anything else now. This blog is not a long song of praise and neither is one of those mom blogs where everything is portrayed so idyllically. I want to write my story as it is, not what it suppose to be. Apart from we have gone through a uterine transplant, our life is very ordinary. Just as we want it to be.

It is not the uterus you have sex with
Illustration from the book "Underbara underliv". In it there's everything you need to know about the female genitals.

It is not the uterus you have sex with

Let´s set a few things straight regarding the womb, right from the start. 

The uterus is the amazing organ in the woman’s body in which a fertilized egg clings and for nine months develops into a child. No bigger than a fist, it is embedded in the pelvis – behind the bladder and next to the tubes and ovaries. The entrance to its inner is a really thin canal called cervix. About the canal, you might as well say exit, when in fact there are more things that go out than in – discharges, menstruation fluid, a kid.

This with the cervix baffles a lot. Some mistrust it for a wide open path from the vagina into the uterus. However, the cervix is not a sea lock, which transports larger things back and forth as desired. With big things, I mean of course penis. It is completely impossible for a penis to get into the uterus. End of story. This because of the shape of the cervix, but also the function of the vagina. The vagina is elastic both deep and wide to accommodate most penises, thus not allowing them to get any further. Furthermore, in majority of women, the uterus is bent forward at almost 90 degrees and if you try to bend an eroded penis it will break.

Conclusion: When transplanting a uterus from the woman’s mother, it is not the same thing as the man having sex with his partner’s mother. According to the internet, there seem to be some people who believe that.

The uterus is a shelter, a place to grow in. The plant substance itself, i.e. the embryo, is already produced (in my case in an IVF lab) when it settles in the uterus. In other words, the uterus has no effect whatsoever on the child’s hereditary factor. My children are a product of me and my husband. Not my mom. This, it seems to be some opinions about as well. 

Without the uterus – no child

I understand. The uterus is not an organ that you generally need to pay much attention to. It is either seen nor feels particularly frequent. It is therefore no wonder that you don´t know so much about it. What amazes me, however, is how many people that are not aware of this: without a uterus, there are no children.

Over the years I have been forced to endure a number of embarrassing harangues from people who mean well, but who do not have a clue what it means to not have a womb. People who I barely know, who call me after my cancer surgery and instruct me to “relax, it will be a child when you least expect it”. My boss at the publishing company I work for (in the corporate group, they issue one of Sweden’s biggest women magazine?!) try to convince me that a private hospital in Stockholm fixes everything when it comes to infertility. ”Just apply for care there and then you’ll see you get pregnant”. Pointlessly, I try to explain that there is no chance in the world you´ll become pregnant if there is no uterus.

The woman’s internal genitals work in perfect symbiosis. The ovary that releases the egg, the fallopian tubes that intercept the sperm and make sure it will become an embryo. And the uterus that allows the embryo to develop into a child. All parts are equally important. If any part would have a malfunction, there are several treatments for both the woman and the man. Stimulated ovulation, sperm injection and in vitro fertilization are three examples of such treatments. Since involuntary infertility is classified as a disease, you are actually entitled to these treatments.

But when there are problems with the uterus (malformations, adhesions, absence, you name it), then it´s a stop. Then there is no treatment. Until now. Sahlgrenska University Hospital made it possible through uterine transplantation. Not a private hospital in Stockholm. In other fertility issues, I´m sure they are great. 

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