Dreams – The Flip Side

I think most women dream of having a family. Children to call their own, to raise differently than we were raised, and a chance to see our legacy continue well after we are gone. I suppose I wasn’t any different from most women at least when I was younger. Marry Mr. Right, have 2.5 children, a white picket fence, and the family dog. However, once I reached my 20’s something seriously went wrong.

My first marriage was to a Marine who hadn’t been in the Corps for very long and I knew it was going to be a hard road for us, at least for a while. I thought I was pregnant at one point, and I think it was all the talk around me a our friends wanting babies, having babies, or being pregnant. It became obvious that I wasn’t and so life continued and I made sure that I was protected. Since he didn’t plan on making the Marine Corps a career I didn’t want to have to start a new life within a couple of years carting around a small child or baby. It wasn’t long after he got out we moved and then separated. I am grateful to this day that I didn’t have children with him. I’m glad that I didn’t have to have him in my life.

Than I met Paul, my current, second, and last husband. We both had had rocky relationships, and while I was ready to commit early on, I realized that he wasn’t. So I gave up the dream of marriage, and children once again. We enjoyed each other, but separated 3 different times. The last time being him leaving to return back to his native Ohio. He was gone for a year, and I never expected him to return, but return he did. When he had left we were “engaged”, but his pleas to come home left me with a dilemma. I still loved him…A LOT…. and this time he had made the promise that we were going to get married, and settle down. People thought I was crazy to let him come back and live with me right away, but honestly we had lived together for over 4 years before that and why date, make him get a separate apartment and have us be on our best behavior? It was either going to work or not. Talk about dreams of prince charming coming to sweep you off your feet gone forever. However, I am not sure that I would have wanted it any other way at this point. The trials that we have been through before our marriage and the fact that we could still come together is a true testament to our strength. That even in marriage we can weather anything together.

We both finally had jobs that made good money, and we bought a house and lived a couple of years after getting married just building our equity, or so we thought. I should have known at the beginning that we got the not so great end of the stick on our home loan, we had to take out a second for some financial issues, and in two years were struggling to get a re-finance. By this time I am 35 years old and realizing that I am getting past my child-bearing years. I had a co-worker and friend that is almost 5 years older than me who said we should try to get pregnant at the same time. I chickend out and now she has a 3-year-old little girl. That was when I was 33-34.

When I finally got the courage to get off the pills I became pregnant fairly quickly. Paul and I had just been to my first pre-natal appointment and the doctor told us at the next appointment we would be able to hear the heart beat. Within the week, I was scrapping with my friend and I came out of the bathroom to announce that I was having a small amount of spotting. She calmly packed up her stuff, told me to call Paul and we were going to go to the emergency room, but not to worry, these things can be normal. It wasn’t. The doctor in the emergency room kept asking me how far along they told me I was. Almost 2 months I replied. They couldn’t read my sonograms there in the room, and had to take me to x-ray. After 3 or more hours, the doctor pronounced that the baby wasn’t “viable” and that I should see my regular physician on what to do next. Less than a week later I am back at the same doctor who didn’t seem to recognize me, didn’t care, and told me to go back to emergency to have a DNC done because he didn’t have time for me. I didn’t know what to do, I had never been through this before, but I did know what a DNC was, and that was to scary for me to contemplate. That afternoon, I left my mom in the middle of Home Depot with the worst pain ever, drove home, called my husband, and had a miscarriage before he got home. Never made it back to the hospital. Maybe these are to many details for some, but it’s my blog and it feels good to write it down.

There were two more attempts over a 6 month period of time. My body and my mind just couldn’t handle anymore. I know there are women out there who have multiple before they have a good one, but physically it was taking a lot of out of me, and mentally as well. I am hypothyroidism and while that doesn’t keep you from having children, if you’re not on the right doses of your medication you can severely harm a baby. Also I was realizing that I waited to long. Most of our friends already had children who were grown or at least old enough to go to the bathroom and eat on their own if not almost in high school or almost graduated. I was entering the later part of my 30’s which for a women not in peak physical condition isn’t a good thing.

Paul and I finally discussed the issue and even he decided that we should stop. He couldn’t stand it for me to have to go through all the pain, couldn’t watch me freak out thinking I’m doing everything wrong. We also concluded, that life was fine the way it was. Sometimes it seemed like we could barely take care of ourselves. The house had sucked so much out of us, that sometimes groceries were not on our list of needs at payday. We also liked the fact that we could pick up and go whenever we wanted to. We didn’t have to worry about babysitters, and extra money to pay them, we could randomly go where we wanted and when we wanted.

I had a friend once, a good Christian women, who told me that she couldn’t fully feel like she was a women without having given birth. I had told her that whatever God has in store for her will be and that being a woman has nothing to do with your womb. It’s a bonus that God decides whether it will be or not. I know for me I feel like I have been the maker of that destiny. Always on birth control, being very careful. But honestly, even the most careful of women still get pregnant on the pill, and perhaps it was just never meant to be for me. Sure I have missed dozens of times, a day here or there, and even days sometimes. I know people say children aren’t planned, they just happen, but maybe I planned to much. Not having stability for a child scared me and maybe it just came to late. I’m amazed at the women and men alike who seem to envy us our freedom. We don’t deal with late night diaper changing, terrible two’s, and the terrible teens. People tell us outright while they wouldn’t change having their children, they often wonder and think it would have been nice to not got the traditional route and not have to worry about them.

To those people I say there is a flip side of deciding not to have children especially when you have a very small family. You see I am an only child. No siblings, very few cousins, and a part of a family back east that is completely lost and unknown to me. Here in this area of California, it’s me, my husband, and my mom and dad. No grandparents, no cousins, no nothing. My husband has family, but they are scattered and not close either. Once my parents are gone, it’s just Paul and I. As a person who loves to scrapbook, I find this highly ironic. People scrap their children, in fact the majority of their pictures involve their kids. Mine are filled with the four of us, our dogs, and the few close friends that we have surrounded ourselves with through the years. Of all the artistic trades, or hobbies that I have tried scrapping was the one thing I took to and very quickly. I have always struggled with the reasons why I scrap, because these are albums that you leave to your family as your lasting legacy (ah, there’s that word again), but I know mine will someday be in an estate sale, and eventually sent out to the dump. I hope not, I hope someday I have someone I can leave them to, but for now, and for as sad as this sounds, I keep them as my memories to sustain me through the long cold, lonely nights of my ending years. These will become my dreams when all else fails me. They will be my comfort and my joy of the good life that I did have.

Things definitely haven’t turned out the way I thought they would have. I wouldn’t say it’s a bad thing, just different. I’m happy in our life. Being unemployed now, I am grateful that I dont’ have to worry about another mouth or mouths to feed. Even with it being the two of us, we have never been able to survive on just one income. I don’t envy those that have children, at least financially, but sometimes I envy the fact that they will have someone when they are old. Though I wonder if that will always be the case for them. I drive by the numerous elderly care facilities in our town and wonder how many of them actually get regular visits from their children, or whether they are just as alone there as they would have been without a lot of family. I see the people I know who have siblings and hear about the fights, the months of no communication, the children that come home and say they hate them, and wonder if I’m better off. I will never know that, but I do know one thing, don’t fight with your family, find away to make amends, spend all the time you can with them and hold them tight. It’s a precious gift, not one to be squandered. If your dream was to have children, always keep those ties together, never once consider what life would have been like without them, but cherish each moment, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and be thankful. Not everyone’s dream for a family comes true and if it doesn’t for you, find something else to set your sights on. I hope someday Paul and I will be able to travel the globe, that we will have friends that we can make as close as our family, and that our lives will be just as full. For now, I will set dreams to seeing the Eiffel Tower, or floating on a gondola in Venice, or even seeing the white snow caps of Mount Everest. Dreams don’t have to end when they don’t come true, that’s why they are called dreams, but when you stop dreaming, you stop truly living.

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