Sunday, June 22, 2008

Changes: Motherhood

Dearest Goddesses,

We woke with a scare this morning. Ginny hadn't been feeling well for several days – just not her tail waggin, vivacious self. Her appetite didn't change (she could always be found perched at the stove when we were cooking) she was going to the bathroom fine – but when she woke up this morning with a horrible discharge (I'll spare you the details – I'm sure you're grossed out enough) we woke the vet up (Sunday morning!!) It turns out that she has a uterine infection – which is apparently common in bulldogs – and the only solution was to get her spayed. John and I had been talking about the idea of finding her a mate at her next period and have a litter. Although we were disappointed that there wouldn't be little Ginnys running around (isn't she cute??) we were also relieved. No more periods, no monitoring a bulldog birth – which apparently is extremely challenging. On the way home from the vet, John turned to me and said – I guess the universe is telling us that we're not supposed to have babies, I corrected him…puppies you mean. Right…puppies.

As a married woman in her mid-thirties, I am asked at least once a week whether I have children. While I sometimes I like to think it's because I live in Costa Rica and women traditionally have babies fairly young, I know it would be the same in the states. And when I answer no – there is invariably a follow-up question of why not? Don't you want kids?

Sometimes I think of myself as a victim "How does this jerk not know that maybe I've been trying for years and simply can't have babies – how is this question supposed to make me feel??"

Other times I feel like I've got to defend myself "No, not yet, but we're trying!!"

My usual answer is "When it's time, it's time" (of course in my limited Spanish, I'm not sure it translates great!)

I suppose the truth would have to be "To be honest with you – I just don't know if I do…"

There's a whole flood of junky garbage that goes through the mind of a woman in her mid-thirties who's still not sure she wants (or can have) children. While I'm not obsessive about cervical fluid or temperature, we're actively seeing if it happens. I notice a lot of pregnant women and think longingly about having babies and then I see a mother schlepping her screaming brood around and am grateful that I'm not. Every month I get that twinge of hopefulness that I am – and can't help but be a bit disappointed when I'm not, and then I go about my month and love my freedom and how relatively low maintenance my dogs are. I've been on the "Am I pregnant?" websites and I've felt angry at my body for the few days of deception. I've felt the feeling of failure that my body hasn't produced even a glimmer of life, while those around me seem so fertile. I've felt the pressure of the clicking biological clock. I wonder if my choices, my indecision, my failure to log cervical mucus and Basal Body temperature, will seem like wasted time when I'm 40 and my chances are even slimmer? Will I be okay with the question – how come you don't have any kids, in 10 years? When the ticking gets louder in a couple years, will I head to a fertility clinic and start dosing myself with hormones? I don't know – I like to think I won't – that I'll accept that although I won't physically give birth in this life, that I am still Mama Spice (I once asked John what my Spice Girl name would be – he said Mama Spice…!) That I'll join the ranks of the many beautiful, talented, passionate, loving, giving, women I know, who have chosen for one reason or another not to have children.

The truth is, I just don't know. I like being Auntie Patty, Tia Linda, Uncle Patty (to Jonah!) to the kids in my life. I love hearing about their successes and seeing them grow up. I love their precociousness and their questions. I love their laughter and how they can fall asleep anywhere. And I really love going home and sleeping through the night without a bad dream, or a bedwetting, or an I don't know what's wrong, how can I make it better, why won't you just go to sleep?

I suppose in all of this, the most effective answer is – when it's time, it's time. And if it's not? Well, I certainly hope to have given birth to creation, to possibility, to miracles, to growth…

And so, while my baby is at the Vet having surgery tomorrow morning (send her light!!) which will end her chances of motherhood – I couldn't help but ponder my own.

Love to you,



Sugar said...

I almost commented a couple of days ago, but thought that this post deserved some thought, not just a drive by posting.

I can't speak to not having kids... I have four... but only ONE of them was planned. Seriously. However, there are aspects of my life that are unconventional. I always feel like I'm on my guard when being asked about those very personal choices. Someone said it's just in my head, thinking that I'm being judged. To shut her up, I agreed, but I didn't in any way agree. I'm absolutely positive I'm being perceived as odd because, truthfully, I am. I know I live differently than the average family. I like it. What I DON'T like is feeling like I have to defend myself. People are sheep sometimes. It's just human nature. I guess all we can do is to learn to speak where it's safe and to gracefully change the subject when it's not.

Damn lemmings.

Rowena said...

I agree with Sugar about wanting some thought to post here. I still don't know what to post, really, because I know I'm one of those around you with crazy fertility.

I don't know if I can really understand all the way to the core, but I can support you in your life the way it is. There is no right way to be, even though people get stuck in thinking there is just one way. In my family, a lot of people don't have kids. We have a small extended family as a result.

And I know you know that if you really do want to go the old having babies route, there are ways. There's also the having babies without bearing them route.

Whatever it is you feel the need to do, I support you.

And Ginny too.

Patty Kennelly said...

Thank you for your support ladies. It's a weird place to be. Women are supposed to want kids, unequivocally, you know? And of course it's always been something I've wanted "later". Back in NY I had friends with kids and friends without kids - down here, there see, to be only couples with kids - and I just don't feel as much freedom with them.

I'm more aware of the social pressures - and I suppose my 35th birthday coming up has a little to do with it...It's all part of the inquiry.

Thanks again!