Thursday, June 3, 2010

The beginning

I remember knowing as a little kid that I would never give birth to my children. I knew it with all my being, and I wasn't scared or upset; I accepted it without question. I also knew I would breastfeed. Somehow, though, through my childhood, I forgot this knowing. I was given the most amazing gift of remembering that knowing, and the peace that came with it much later in my life. But all this comes later in my story.

My life progressed about a typically as one would expect, well at least as I'd expected, as I'd planned...dealing with my divorced parents and 1 younger brother, lots of socializing through school, average violin playing though loving the music, meeting "the one" right after high school, college, marriage, puppy, job at social services, buying a house, trying to have baby... Only this was when my plan hit a snag.

We tried to get pregnant for several years without seeking any kind of medical treatment. It was fun at first, then started becoming a bit of a chore when we realized things weren't going as planned. After seeing a wonderful midwife, it became clear that there was something going on. I took a couple of rounds of medication but it made me feel crazier than I thought possible. I knew it was something I could no longer do to myself, my husband, or our relationship. We never got any answers to that all important (to me, at least) question of "why???". I think it would be easier to have an answer to that question. I'm trying to remember that my plan isn't the best one. I said, I'm trying.

The infertility permanently altered the course of my life. Shortly after we started trying to get pregnant I accepted a social work position with a parenting program for pregnant and new parents. I thought about how much I would learn about parenting, how that would benefit my family. also, I love, LOVE babies and couldn't wait to play with them. That wasn't exactly how it worked, but it was fun. Well, it was fun for awhile. In hindsight, I see it was a little hard for me to see all these babies being born to sometimes not at all prepared families. Amazingly, I never struggled with feeling bitter towards the families. I never had the angry questions such as "why them and not me?", though looking back, I'm surprised.

I certainly started avoiding other situations where there were pregnant women, babies, and those in which we'd get the inevitable "when are you going to start having kids?" kind of questions. I mean, really, why in the heck do people think they have the right to ask such personal questions?! I chose to just smile and tell people we'd get around to that eventually. I wish I'd had the guts to come up with some kind of smartass response, but I only tend to come up with those later.

My mother, who always thinks the best of everyone (with the occasional exception of me), tries to remind me that people mean no harm when they make such insensitive comments/questions. But I'm just not willing to let people off the hook just because they don't think before they open their mouths. Ignorance isn't a good excuse, is it? Yeah, well, maybe you don't agree, and that's alright. Just don't ask people anymore when they're going to start having babies, okay?

So, that's the take home lesson for today...don't ask people about their baby plans. Stay tuned (and I'll work on making posts briefer, again, I'll work on it!)...


jessicam said...

I always knew I wouldn't have biological kids either - can remember thinking it for years and years. Even after my eventual hysterectomy, people STILL tell me to "hang in there, my time will come" for getting pregnant. Makes no difference that I say, "No, it won't. It's a physical impossibility." They just keep going, saying it will happen when "God wants it to", or when I find the right guy, etc.

I think it's rude beyond belief to suggest that I am wrong. Good advice to just not go to the baby-making topic.

Nice writing. :)

~ Jess

Becky said...

I think people just don't know what the appropriate response is so they say what they *think* we want to hear. We've had countless people say they were sure we'd get pregnant once we adopted since that happens "all time time" (actually it rarely happens). Maybe I'll do a post about that...

Thanks for reading - and leaving me a comment!!

Andi said...

Never really thought about the question before, about having kids I don't know what to say to woman who are trying to get pregnant and can't. I know a couple of people who can't have kids, one adopted and the other has chosen not too. I think a blog on how you would like people to address this issue would be helpful. I have enjoyed reading your posts and it has given me great insight into an area I am not familiar with. I look forward to reading more! Great job!

Becky said...

I think, Andi, that's it's more about how you say something. For instance, just because I can't give birth to a child, doesn't mean I "can't have kids". Now, I know you, so I know you "didn't mean it like that" but that's exactly what I'm talking about. It's a reframing of the way we say things, just being more thoughtful.
Partly, it's also about what we actually have the right, or really should, say to others. I'm sure people are often just making polite conversation, but how about we talk about something else, unless that person brings it up, or you know them REALLY well. That's my feeling on it at least...