I’ve been thinking a lot since my post last week. Many of you gave me a lot to think about, a lot to chew on, both in the comments and in private emails exchanged. I appreciate it so much. I did want to clarify a couple of things though, that might have seemed unclear in the post.
1). I don’t hate spiritual motherhood. I really don’t. It’s a truly beatiful thing to behold. Look at Mother Teresa, and all of the other amazing women saints. No, I have a lot of respect for spiritual motherhood. I do not think women who never bear children have lives with no purpose or meaning, or their existence is somehow second best. What I was talking about was *my* singular and deeply personal experience with physical and spiritual motherhood. For me, as a woman who has had the gift of physical motherhood, the invitation to spiritual motherhood seems less like a gift, and more like a consolation prize. It feels second best to me, because of my experience. If I implied it was second best, period, across the board, I am truly sorry. Not my intention.
I needed to work this out, to figure out why it made me so upset. I resent being told by fertile women that I should just be grateful for spiritual motherhood. I think it rubs me the wrong way because it’s like those comments, “Well, you’re infertile. You can always adopt.” Well, yes. But so can you. Adoption is not a consolation prize for infertile people; it’s a calling from God. Spiritual motherhood is the same. I resent the implication that since I’m subfertile, “I can always be a spiritual mother” said in much the same way the adoption comment is made. Well, so can you. Every woman is called to be a spiritual mother in some way, and I really don’t like to think that because one’s ovaries work properly, they are exempt from seeking opportuities to be a spiritual mother. That’s what makes me feel like it’s second best, a consolation prize.
I don’t like that it’s what God seems to want right for me right now. We all know how much it sucks when what we want and what God wants don’t match up. A wrestling match usually ensues, and we all know who the winner will be. That’s where I am right now.
2). Some of you mentioned concern that I’m getting angry. You better believe I am. I would challenge anyone to exprience miscarriage, primary infertility, secondary infertility, being an orphan, and having a chronic medical condition, all by age 29, to NOT be angry, at least some of the time.
If you can do all that and not be angry, then you are a far better woman than I. I never claimed to be perfect; I am a work in a progress and a pretty miserable sinner most of the time. I’m working on it, and this page is where I work on it. It’s where I rage and roar so I don’t rage and roar at the family I love.
3). Why I’m freaking out about only having one child. Yes, she just turned 2. Yes, we’ve been trying just less than a year (will be one year in April). Some of you might be thinking, what is she freaking out about? Is it just envy? Well, I’d be lying if there wasn’t a tiny bit of envy at play. Of the mothers I know in real life and through blogs, I know of TWO others who have one child Maggie’s age and no others yet. Out of close to 30 people, I know TWO who have a toddler and no others on the way. Is it a big mystery as to why I feel left behind?
But no, that’s not the main motivation. The main motivators are fear and love. I am 29 years old, and in the 3 years since I was pregnant with Maggie, despite getting significantly healthier, my reproductive system has taken a dive into the toilet. It took us 14 months to conceive Maggie, but only 8 cycles, because they were so long. No injections, no clomid, just metformin. This time, 10 months, 10 cycles. On clomid cycle #2, need hcg because progesterone alone has failed. Everything is worse, and sooner. What will it be like when I’m 35? I’m terrified that if I don’t have another baby soon, it’s just going to keep getting harder, and will be even less likely to happen. That’s biology. Even for normal fertility people.
That’s the rational fear. Then there’s the irrational fear. Hold on to your hats, because the crazy train is rolling into the station. All aboard.
I had Maggie at the same age that my mother had me. She only had one child, and then she died when she was 32. I have this irrational fear that if I don’t have another baby soon, I am going to live her life and die young like she did. Crazy, I know. But there it is.
Then there was the pretty miserable childhood I had as an only child. My grandparents loved me well, and did the best they could. It was in a lot of ways, normal (ballet, girl scouts, summer camp, etc). But of course it wasn’t normal. I watched my mother die slowly over more than a year. I had a drug addict father in and out of my life until I was 12 and he finally left for good. I was consistently the fattest, smartest, and most awkward girl in my class every single year until high school. My grandparents loved me, but they were older and tired. I had to entertain myself all the time. It made me a lifelong reader, but it also made me spend a lot of time living in my head, talking to myself, and feeling so very alone. I remember I finally had a friend in 3rd grade, and another girl told me, “You know so-and-so is only friends with you because her mother made her be, because your mom died and she feels sorry for you.” The first 18 years of my life were probably the most miserable, and it’s hard to seperate all that baggage from the fact that I was an only child.
Would everything be different if I had a sibling? The question hangs in the air. There is no answer of course, because things are what they are. All I know is that I am going to do everything in my power, move heaven and earth, to make sure Maggie has a childhood that is, in every way that matters, the opposite of mine. She will have an intact family. She will have stability. Her first memory will not be of flushing her father’s drugs down the toilet, like mine was. I will lay my body down so that she will never the know the pain I have known. I love her so much that I want to give her a sibling. I want her to have that gift I never did. I want someone to share the burden of caring for Atticus and I when we are old. I don’t want her to have to do it all alone. I don’t want her to be alone in this world. Someone asked me how many children will it take for me to be content, and the answer is: 2. I’m not looking for my own basketball team. I have no interest in a 12 passenger van. I just don’t want my baby to be alone.
So if I seem angry and a little bit nuts; I am. I’m trying very hard not to be, but it’s a battle. Infertility is hard enough when someone doesn’t have all the extra baggage I have. With that baggage, as my Atticus often reminds me, it’s a miracle I’m a functioning member of society, and not living at the bottom of a bottle somewhere. When I stop and think about it, it really is.
SO. Now that I’ve gotten that out, I hope no one thinks I hate spiritual motherhood, women without children, or that I’m so filled with envy that I won’t be happy until I have enough children for a family band.
I’m just a sort of sad, sort of angry, subfertile woman using my blog to work out my shit.
Oh, and yesterday was my 29th birthday. I’m going to write about it soon. Thanks for hanging around, even with the crazy.