Friday, May 9, 2014

Being a Mother and Other Traumatic Tales of Womanhood

I'm 36.

I'm in that post 35 year old world. As a woman, you know what I'm talking about. "A woman's chances of..." "After 35, the baby risks..."  "It's easier for a ...." Blah. Blah. Blah.

Some of the blahs seep in though.

And so I start thinking. I realize I need to make peace with some things.

I will get married.

But I might not be able to have children when I get married.

My mother is the only daughter. My grandmother was the only child. I'm the only daughter.  My great grandmother was one of several children, but her mother died very young.

We have a history of fun times with our lady parts. Each generation has its own super fun tales. I think that's part of the rites of being a woman though. Traumatic stories of child birth, or lady bits. All in good fun.

My gynecologist used the word "infertile" in a general way a couple weeks ago.

To solve an ongoing problem, he suggested I get an IUD. My insurance provider has said that I'm covered if it is to prevent pregnancy. The problem I have actually prevents pregnancy, so I'm not sure if I'm covered or not because I'm not actively trying to prevent pregnancy. I'm also not really sure how getting an IUD is going to solve my problem. But my doctor casually walked over the word "infertile"... and that's the part that has stayed with me. I casually glanced at the word too. And I acknowledge that because of the problems I currently face, I would be unable to get pregnant, if I were to try to get pregnant. But still... you just don't think of it as an unsolvable problem. We solve one problem at a time... But still... infertile.... And that said... I'm not really comfortable taking something for the express purpose of stopping pregnancies that I will one day want. It just feels counterintuitive.

And so I need to make peace. I need to identify with my weaknesses.

I might not ever be able to have children. I might be infertile forever.

A woman's relationship with her hypothetical offspring is an interesting one. Everyone thinks about their children differently. I never really imagined them. They're abstract to me. I guess I didn't want to allow myself to hope for them because they're going to bear the mark of their father. That's generally how it works. And I could never really figure out who their father would be.

So I don't feel the loss of my hypothetical off spring. I have never had visions of them. I can't picture them in my mind.

But I have had visions of what it would be like to mother them. I would like to teach them to play the piano. I would like to take them to the park and to the zoo. I would like to fill their bellies with healthy and tasty foods. I would like to play with them. I would like to read them stories. I have plans to keep my kids home for school because I don't have the patience for schools. I want them reading Shakespeare in the second grade and conducting scientific experiments in the 3rd grade. I want them studying computer programming in the 4th grade. I want them to experience learning with passion.

I would love to have babies. But I don't know if I will be able to have them anymore. I do not feel the loss of my hypothetical children. I feel the loss of my hypothetical motherhood.

My motherhood remains this idealized dream instead of this real, gritty, dirty, mindnumbing, crazy, painful reality. I hear your traumatic stories. I understand the ways in which I am blessed.

But it's always greener and all that.

I don't believe in certain conclusions when it comes to this topic. Life has a way of turning everything on its head.

I guess I just wanted to share my perspective on being a mother on the Mother's Day weekend of my 36th birthday. I know many women who have had similar musings. And some of them have gone on to have beautiful babies. And if my life changes in that way, I'll write about it from that perspective.

It's all a part of the traumatic tales we tell as women.


cay said...

Eve. This is a lovely post. I've heard that word from a doctor, too. Though it was for my then-boyfriend's neuro-oncologist as he was listing off the potential side effects of chemotherapy. I wasn't planning on marrying said boyfriend at the time, but it hit deep. And I couldn't process it for weeks. I of course don't have answers, but want you to know I understand a bit. (I did go on to marry that boyfriend. Turned out he was a keeper.) xo

Eve said...

Thanks! Life is anything but predictable. Those things that make us a woman are precious to us--even if children aren't a part of our future. Life is full of riches. I know so many amazing women who lead magical lives without children. I think it's about the loss of the choice. Freedom is such an ingrained factor in our lives. It just feels better as a choice. Taking away the choice is part of the loss.

tawshaguthrie said...

Never say never.. mother hood comes in all forms and shapes from marriage with already built in children to adoption to having to help out as auntie because of sick mommy... life is crazy, unbelievably, and beautiful. ... enjoy your beautiful journey....

Heidi said...
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Heidi said...

I'm scared to find out if I can actually have children. I'm 39. No one in my family that I know of has had children past 35. I've had to make peace with that, and I'm usually ok with it. This year, though, it's getting to me and I'm really grateful that I'll spend Mother's Day in Primary and won't have to bravely confront Relief Society. I may even sit in the back during Sacrament so I can sneak out if it gets hard. Thank you for your words. Life is unexpected and difficult and beautiful, and sometimes very, very heavy.

Eve said...

Thank you for sharing your feelings. I feel like I'm in really good company with these thoughts. I'm comforted when I think of three friends in their 40s who just had beautiful babies. Or I think of three friends who just adopted children this year. Life is good. Complicated, but so unpredictable!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for being so wonderful, Eve. I too have had to work through the fact that I may not have children (not in the way I was expected, anyway). Life is easier if you let go of expectations, and accept and love the life that has been given you. This is a hard lesson, that I am still learning. Happy mother's day to a wonderful,nurturing and kind woman!