'A tidal wave of grief': Lena Dunham reflects on her hysterectomy

Image/Lena Dunham - Instagram
Image/Lena Dunham - Instagram 

Lena Dunham has opened up about grief, infertility and what it means to "make a family" in a heartfelt post on Mother's Day.

Dunham shared a photo of herself the night before she underwent her hysterectomy in 2017 at the age of 31.The actress, director and producer battled severe endometriosis for a decade, writing in an essay for Vogue that the pain had become "unbearable".

"I was putting on a brave face/sassy tongue (and a teensy blue pony to boot.) Dunham wrote on Instagram on Sunday. "My uterus wasn't gone yet- in fact, it was torturing me every chance it got- but I was already grieving."

For Dunham the grief was all consuming. And while it continues, she says it also transforms. 

"When it comes to fertility grief, some make peace with a different future (or perhaps they never wanted those rascal children anyhow and societal pressure is at play in their response to losing their fertility), she writes. "For others, like myself, who always wanted to be mums, it can take time to realise how many ways there are to make a family- and one of these "non-traditional" methods is probably perfect for me."


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The 33-year-old actress added that while Mother's Day is a beautiful and necessary celebration of what mothers give, it can also summon a "tidal wave of grief"  for those who've lost their own mother figure, or their ability to be a mother.

"So for those who aren't necessarily welcoming Mother's Day, I see you, I love you and wherever you are today- resentful, lonely, nostalgic, resigned or maybe even joyful- you are already #wellenough."

In her Vogue essay, penned after her operation, Dunham shared what happened in the aftermath of her surgery. "I wake up surrounded by family and doctors eager to tell me I was right," she explains.


"My uterus is worse than anyone could have imagined. It's the Chinatown Chanel purse of nightmares, full of both subtle and glaring flaws. In addition to endometrial disease, an odd humplike protrusion, and a septum running down the middle, I have had retrograde bleeding, a.k.a. my period running in reverse, so that my stomach is full of blood."

ACTRESS: Girls star Lena Dunham.

ACTRESS: Girls star Lena Dunham. Photo: Jason LaVeris

Dunham also reflected on the choices she now has in front of her after so many years of feeling "choiceless." 

"Soon I'll start exploring whether my ovaries, which remain someplace inside me in that vast cavern of organs and scar tissue, have eggs." she wrote. "Adoption is a thrilling truth I'll pursue with all my might. But I wanted that stomach. I wanted to know what nine months of complete togetherness could feel like. I was meant for the job, but I didn't pass the interview.

"And that's OK. It really is. I might not believe it now, but I will soon enough. And all that will be left is my story and my scars, which are already faded enough that they're hard to find."


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