We wanted to be able to produce our own children to love. We wanted to create something so special from our relationship–a precious gift who reflected bits and pieces of my family and his, but was their own little someone. We did the usual round of fertility treatments and even pulled out the big guns and tried IVF; something I swore I would never do. We lovingly gazed at photos of our tiny embryos while I waited to see if one “took hold.” To lighten the mood, we named them gender-free names like “Pat,” “Chris,” or “Alex.” I got pregnant. For a few days. A “chemical” pregnancy—considering I was a high school chemistry teacher then, the term seemed somehow ironic. By the time, we were done trying I had experienced 4 “chemical” pregnancies in all. I just couldn’t go through it anymore. So we were going to adopt. I even quit my job, and we moved to a place with a good school district where we could afford to live on one income. But we couldn’t agree on the particulars. For instances, I was in favor of adopting an older child. I took down all of the pictures of our friends’ children that decorated our refrigerator and replaced them with ones of older foster kids from Adopt Us Kids.org, but my hubby wanted an infant. In the end, we just ran out of steam. I was gun-shy of more heartache. He couldn’t dredge up the required enthusiasm.
So now we live in a family-friendly place without kids. We get peppered with the “so do you have children?” question on a regular basis. I am never really sure how to answer that question. So, I am honest and I say we tried and couldn’t, I watch people squirm and try to “fix” my problem by suggesting adoption, even though I didn’t ask for a solution. I sense that they are trying to make themselves feel better by trying to make it alright for me, and a part of me feels sad and guilty for adding to their distress. Another part of me often feels angry because many of their solutions are judgmental and imply that the pain would just disappear if I took their advice. Their band-aid measure feels like it has been neatly applied over my mouth, and I usually mutter something complementary about their great ideas and hope the conversation ends soon.
Ultimately I gratefully had a hysterectomy, because the pain of endometriosis and adenomyosis became crippling. I now KNOW I will never bear a child. Most of the time, I feel really happy about my life. I love my husband and the time we spend together. I love my job and the people I work with. I love my free time. But sometimes, to be honest, sometimes I feel, well, truncated. I get a lump in my throat at the most unexpected moments. This scenario wasn’t the one I had planned, and I am still designing a new one, and it will require every ounce of creativity I possess.
MaliNovember 7, 2011 at 10:51 pm
You’ll get there. And the lump-in-the-throat moments – well, I think they’ll always visit, but hopefully less and less regularly.
Treo eileNovember 22, 2011 at 11:53 am
It’s not an easy design to create, but I do believe you will create a wonderful design. I know those lump in the throat moments and they’re not easy.
RubyNovember 25, 2011 at 12:10 pm
Thank you both for your supportive comments. Not that I wish these circumstances on anyone, but it is nice to know that I am not alone and that you understand…
NicoleNovember 25, 2011 at 1:53 pm
I had a hysterectomy because I had invasive cervical cancer when I was 28 and even though we could adopt or have a surrogacy, it just feels so overwhelming. So, I am working on settling into my life with my partner without children. It is really overwhelming at times – all the questions, all the societal pressures, etc. I am glad you’ve decided to start writing a blog and tell your story. You are not alone and there are lots of people to give you support in those tough moments. HUGS.
RubyNovember 25, 2011 at 6:44 pm
Thank you Nicole.
RubyNovember 26, 2011 at 12:34 pm
By the way Nicole, your blog Real Life & Thereafter is so flat-out phenomenal and engrossing that I have taken to reading from the very beginning (August 2010). I have also been enjoying your music mix “For Those Grey Sky Days” :).
NicoleNovember 29, 2011 at 3:02 pm
Awwww! Thank you so much! It is always lovely hearing things like this. I am having a bit of an off day, and that definitely perked me up!
Mrs.SpitDecember 7, 2011 at 2:53 pm
I find this “life after children” thing to be strangely perplexing. I understand why people ask. It is no different than people asking what I do for a living.
It’s the solving or the questions or the inability to leave things be that I struggle with. Whether I am fine without children or not, there is nothing anyone can do to fix it. And I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to talk about holding my son in my arms while he died. I don’t want to talk about the specialists and I don’t want to talk about the miscarriages.
Mostly I just want to be – a woman without children – who is finding ways to have a full life none the less.