Tuesday, April 24, 2012
This is Infertility Awareness week. As most regular readers know, I dealt with it in my life, and am still dealing with the ramifications years later. This is my journey.
All I ever really wanted to do when I grew up was be a wife and mother. I didn’t really care about a big fancy job, or living in a mansion or driving a BMW. I honestly wanted the all American dream, with a station wagon or mini van, a wrap around lemonade porch and a house full of kids. I had names picked out from when I was 12-Scott Francis, Amelia Alexandra, Julianna Therese and Bryce James. It didn’t matter the last name, that was what I had planned. There were family connections-Julianna Therese were my great grandmother’s names; Amelia was my grandmother’s middle name. Scott and Francis were the middle names of both my late father and stepfather (as well as one of my favorite author’s names reversed). Bryce was after Bryce Canyon, one of my favorite places on Earth and James was my father’s name. Alexandra was in honor of the greatest library that ever existed in antiquity-so there was another literary connection. I had it all planned.
The girls would take ballet and gymnastics. The boys would be stellar athletes. They would all be super smart, and love to read and learn. They would all play musical instruments and sing well. Their creative abilities in terms of arts and writing would be beyond compare. All would be well mannered and polite. We would have a weekly family devotional time, and attend church together as a family each week. People would marvel at what an amazing family we were.
I always imagined getting married in my early 20’s, and that I would have children almost immediately. I wanted to stay at home, and be a full time mother and homemaker. I thought that would be in all of our best interests.
Things don’t always go according to plan however.
It helps if you have someone to marry in your early 20’s, who shared that same vision. I finally married at 32, a full decade after I dreamt I would have. I had mother nature against me. I had a history of gynecological issues, including several surgeries by the time I was in my mid 20’s. I closed out that decade with having fibroid surgery that wound up doing more damage than benefit. As a result, I was rendered infertile. I was heartbroken, devastated and it sent me to a baseline depression for almost a decade.
I hoped against hope. I believed people when they told me stories of how their friends, when they started the adoption process wound up pregnant. I would look at baby clothes and furnishings. I put together a look book of nursery things. I loved looking at maternity clothes. I read all about how to have a healthy pregnancy. I was ready.
Each and every month.
It would go by, and nothing. I would sit in the bathroom and cry, sobbing uncontrollably some months because I thought we were pregnant. I wanted it so badly, but it never happened. It seemed as if everyone I knew was getting pregnant. People who didn’t deserve to be parents were becoming parents. I began to question God, and it caused me to start to turn my back little by little. I began to lose faith, because I felt so alone. I received baby fund jars, and had people ask me quite regularly when we would start a family. I like to think it was well meaning, but it hurt. I wanted to shout, don’t you think we are wanting an answer to that very question too? I want to know what its like to waddle around at nine months pregnant, to know what its like to give life to another human being. I wanted to feel my baby’s heartbeat.
Imagine all your dreams being shattered, especially lying alone in a clinical office, and your feet in the stirrups. That’s where I was when I was told I would never biologically be a mother.
I did fulfill part of my dream, by adopting my son, who is the light of my world. I love him so fiercely and want it all for him. He is the center of my universe and all that I do is for him. I’d go to the ends of the earth to provide a better world for him. However, at the very core of my soul, despite it all, I know that I am not really his mother, and one day he may want to know more about her and even find her. I don’t want that day to ever come, because it would be just proof that I really wasn’t his mom.
Some days I wake up, and feel like a fake and a fraud. A hurtful comment haunts me-you’re not really a mom because you adopted. It was in a different context, but it still sticks in my side, like a roman spear. I’ve been told time and again to let it go, but its hard. I am in mourning still. My emotions still run up and down, partially due to the hysterectomy and the post surgical hormonal imbalances, and partially because I am stuck emotionally.
My wishes of baking cookies and being holly homemaker have ended, and I have retreated. I don’t seem to have it all together any more, and I am not who I thought I might have been in my head. Lifelong desires will never come to fruition, and I need to accept it and move on. I have been trying, but there have been hiccups and bumps in the road that have caused sinkholes to swallow me up.
I pursued this dream, to have more children, at the expense of my current family. I allowed a child who had obvious issues into my home and let it run rampant. I turned a blind eye to lots of disturbing behaviors because I wanted the fairy tale. I tried and tried and failed at attempting to parent her, only to be emotionally and physically spent. Its been almost six months since she left, and I am only starting to reassemble the pieces of my life. I don’t know how much lasting damage was done to other relationships because of wanting to make dreams come true.
I know the self inflicted carnage is pretty brutal. I have considered myself less of a woman because of being infertile. Whether its just my myopia, but I feel like there is a scarlet letter (I in this case) that is branded on me, telling the world that I am not a whole woman. Its changed my relationships with friends and family. When one of my infertile clan winds up getting pregnant, it feels like a betrayal. I know that it has affected my marriage, because my self esteem has plummeted over the years. Following my hysterectomy, I have had prolonged grief. Its like all my hopes and dreams died that day, and I have to start over again.
And I am slowly climbing out of that pit.