I have always wanted to be a mother. I like to tell people that I’ve thought about having children since I was a child, because it’s true and because it sounds good. I like to read about teaching methods and childhood development and what effects experience can have on personality and learning. I often think about what sort of environment I want to provide for my children, how I want them to feel comfortable and safe and loved, and how I’d like to foster in them a love of exploration and creation and imagination. To this day, when I hear about a fun trip or project, I think about doing it with my kids.
Two things came along in my life to derail my assumptions. Neither of them managed to snuff out my dreams, no matter how hard they tried. But together, it seemed that they would see to it that my dreams never became a reality.
The first thing, of course, was cancer. I was diagnosed with biphenaltypic leukemia in 1997, and the three rounds of chemotherapy and bone marrow transplant I underwent to conquer that disease effectively destroyed my ovaries–or, perhaps, the eggs inside them. I only have regular periods when I’m on hormone replacements, and despite having nothing but unprotected sex throughout my seven-year marriage to Sean, we have never had so much as a miscarriage.
Through my struggles with this reality, Sean always told me to face reality, to try to be happy without my dream. Sean didn’t want children; that was the second thing.
He never wanted kids. Never dreamed about it, never thought about it except when I talked about it. The most he would ever agree was that he’d accept it if I happened to get pregnant; aggressive fertility treatments and adoption simply weren’t things he was interested in. There was a time when I tearfully tried to express just how important having children was to me…he was silent for a time and then said quietly, “I didn’t think it was a deal-breaker.”
It wasn’t, of course. I knew how Sean felt when I married him. I married him because I loved and still love him, not because I expected him to give me everything I wanted. I’ve come to realize that Sean doesn’t fully grasp how much I love him, how leaving him to pursue one of my dreams simply isn’t an option.
And so, over the past ten years as I struggled with the knowledge of my infertility and had doors slammed in my face with every test, I was alone. Sean ached for me, but never with me. He wanted me to be happy. He wanted me to forget about having kids and just enjoy my life with him.
In a way, that made it a little easier. At least that way, if I couldn’t give him children, I wasn’t disappointing him.
But that part of the equation fell away last weekend, when Sean said, as if I’d known it all along, “I still want to have a daughter one day. Just one. Of course, with my luck, we’d end up with a boy. I’d like us to be able to have a kid, but if that’s not possible…I would be okay with adoption.”
We’ve got a lot going on right now. We’re planning to move across town, and Sean’s trying to get a certification and move on with his career. Once that’s settled I will be undergoing elective surgery. We won’t be ready to try expensive fertility treatments for a year after that.
But that’s the plan now. It may be too late…or it may never have been possible. But we’ll try.
And if that fails, it looks like we’ll be adopting.
I honestly don’t know how to feel. This isn’t a too-good-to-be-true situation, but it’s still so much more than I was led to expect these past ten years.
My world view, which for so long has felt so narrow, seems suddenly to have expanded. If I just turn my head, I feel like I could see it all.
But I can’t bring myself to go all-in just yet. Not with all the disappointments I’ve already gone through.
At this point I will clamp down and allow myself only the tiniest cautious flicker of hope.