I NEVER CONSIDERED GETTING PREGNANT UNTIL THE OPTION WAS TAKEN AWAY FROM ME
To be completely honest, I never daydreamed about having kids of my own and I’ve never been baby-hungry and looking for babies to ogle and adore like all my other girlfriends.
My true dream life would be me, a gorgeous big house and a St. Bernard to keep me company on lovely, rainy days where I read good books and sip cocoa. Beautiful, isn’t it?
At the age of 23 I was told that because of all my mixing diagnoses and especially with how drastically severe my Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is, that I would never be able to have children “naturally.” No way, no how.
Suddenly the world just stopped. Like I said, I never dreamed of exactly how many kids I would have and I have never seriously dated let alone been married, so it hasn’t been an issue. But in that single instant after the doctor told me I wouldn’t even be able to carry a child, I realized I’ve always had faith in being able to bear a child. Suddenly I joined the ranks of women who can’t have children.
I thought I didn’t care, I thought it wouldn’t matter, until I went to tell my sister who had two adorable kiddos (now she has four spunky kids) that I couldn’t have kids — even if I wanted to. I broke down crying as I talked to her. Sobbing for a life I never imagined but counted on. I couldn’t have kids! I yelled in my mind. Immediately I realized that if I ever had a serious relationship I would have to figure out when was the right time to tell my guy I couldn’t have his kids. That we would never have a child who would look like me or him. That we couldn’t pass on our signature looks to the next generation. No one would ever say, “Awww, they look like you!” “They are your mini-me!”
I grieved a life I could have lived. Suddenly all of my friends who posted pictures of their newborn babies hurt me deeply. People talking about how wonderful it was to hold their newborn child in their arms, and seeing their spouse’s looks in their children’s faces, I would never get that. I would never be able to have that. That life was cruelly cut out of my future because of my diagnoses that had taken so much from me already.
A year passed and I thought I had worked through the pain and the hurt. My own sister was adopted, I could do it too. “You don’t want to pass on your ruined genes anyway,” I told myself. I never would want to pass on my life of pain and struggle to any child — no matter if they were my mini-me.
Another year passed and I was ready to start talking about getting surgery. I have used birth control so that I didn’t have to deal with added extreme pain from endometriosis since I was 19. What was the point of having to pay for birth control for the rest of my life? And I wanted to remove all possibility that I would have to deal with a miscarriage. I was thinking I was so clever to skip all of that pain and emotional ache.
All of my friends started talking about their own miscarriages. My mom opened up and talked about hers. I realized it was a lot more common than I thought, and a lot more common than others probably think too.
I remember reading a book — a murder mystery of course, my favorite — and in it the girl is struggling to tell the guy she loves that she can’t actually have kids even as he tells her he wants a huge family. I could just see that happening to me.
Realistically I know that if they love me enough and I get to that point in a relationship, it shouldn’t matter. But there is that question again: when would I tell them?
Having dealt with grief I know that I can never “get over” this happening to me. I know from a dear friend that people can be clueless and unwittingly cruel to couples who don’t have children, teasing them about being pregnant or having lots of kids. I can see the road and obstacles ahead of me. I am one of the very lucky few to find out before I enter a relationship. I have even had time to come to terms with it, even slightly. I see so many friends having kids and I cheer them all on. It is adorable and precious and makes me happy to see them so content with their lives.
But I also know that I do not walk this path alone. Somewhere there may be a woman just like me who is flinching each time someone posts a newborn pic or posts about the struggles or funny things about being pregnant knowing she will never get that blessing that others might see as a negative. We are out here. We are working hard to move past the ache of not having our own kids. We are researching about adoption and mourning how hard it will all be — not to mention cost.
All the countless baby showers I have gone to with women telling little 9-year-old me, “Take notes for when it is your turn.” Now I’m 25 and know that time won’t ever come.
So here’s to the woman who hasn’t told anyone yet. To the one wiping away tears as they try to reconcile their new normal that looks nothing like they planned and nothing like society told them it would be.
You are not alone. You are not overlooked. You still have worth. There is still a future.
And maybe, just maybe, we will see the day when we can cheerfully respond back to those other women, “I can’t have children, I am going to adopt!” No need to whisper.