Happy Birthday, Uterus!

by Jerri Hurlbutt

Aroused from sleep with the reminder that today is the anniversary of my mother’s unleashing from her uterus this body that I inhabit, I thought of my own uterus. Currently just waking up along with the rest of the body, thankfully, this organ is not one that I can feel. That would spell serious trouble for someone my age. Not so 40+ years ago, when it was a real monthly pain. Days were lost from menstrual cramps, nausea, vomiting—morning sickness without the kid. While I never wanted to get rid of my uterus, I wanted some magic potion to calm the entire abdominal region, like peace talks for the Middle East. I was keenly aware that if men had periods the world would be a very different place.

Now my uterus is an organ at rest, I guess. Older eggs are hanging out, having a beer, listening to Joan Baez recordings. Reminiscing about the athleticism of the old days—the monthly shedding of blood, the monthly housecleaning. It was like moving an entire household, or at least the curtains, rugs, and other wall coverings, every 22 days or so, always early. Unlike the mind of the same body, always procrastinating, making the rest of the body late for class, for appointments, for deadlines, pleading for extensions, inventing excuses. Not so with the uterus. It interrupted anything that was in its path, although it did give at least a day’s warning, of ill ease, tearfulness, sharp tongue. And then the next day came the line to address this monthly amnesia: “Oh, THAT’S what’s going on! Of course, how could I forget?”

Now my uterus is like a vacationer in an abandoned cottage on the Florida coast. It probably could use a cleaning, but who cares. The sun is up, the tide is out, the beach is white; go for a morning swim and go lie in the sun—without sunscreen. Throw caution to the wind. The uterus is in retirement now, waiting for the rest of the body to catch up.

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