Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Why do I want it so much?

With the new job looming in just a few days, I have been busy getting a bunch of "I'll do it tomorrow" stuff done. To that end, I decided to go to Costco and get some more brochures printed for an infertility support group that I have formed. While I waited for my print job to be done, I wandered around the store to see if there was anything I didn't know about that I couldn't live without.

I can alway tell when I am at Costco during normal work day hours because of the unique cross-section of people. It is about 50% retired people (clogging up the aisles around food samples) , 10% business people (dressed nicely and moving efficiently) and 40% moms and kids (breaking my heart). That last group can be broken down further to about 70% moms and babies or moms and young children plus baby; and about 30% are moms with young kids to young teens.

Perhaps I was feeling a bit masochistic, but I decided not to look away when I came across a mom and her kids, I observed her for a while. I tried to get inside her head, see what she was thinking, imagine myself in her shoes. Maybe I could understand why it is so important that I mimic her life in this aspect.

This woman, at the print center, had a young girl, about six years old. It was taking mom a bit to put things together and the six year old kept wandering. Every few seconds mom would crane her head, walk around a corner, peak down an isle to make sure her daughter was still around and, I presume, behaving herself. This woman did not seem happier than I did. In fact, she seemed more harried and tired. Would I be happier in that moment had I been her instead of me? I don't think so.

Then another mom came around the corner followed by preteen-boy pushing the cart . . . and skating on the backs of his tennis shoes with the built in wheels. This boy was behaving himself at the moment, but I have seen enough of preteen-boys on those shoes weaving among shoppers to automatically think, "Why would I want one of those?"

Next was a woman with four kids ranging in age from newborn to about eight. After automatically thinking to myself, "Selfish bitch! Why does she get to pollute the gene pool?!" I moved on to thinking about the amount of time that must go into keeping those kids fed, clothed and guided into adulthood. Why do I want to saddle myself with that responsibility? I am blissfully only responsible for myself right now. Brad and I are very happily married and have a great time together. Why mess that up?

While I was checking out, I spied a woman several lanes over. She was picking up her toddler from the cart. "Ahhh . . . would that I were her. I wonder if she truly appreciates how fortunate she is." Was she happy? I don't know. I didn't care. I knew I would be happy in her shoes.

On the way out, just my luck, I pass within inches of ready-to-pop-pregnant-lady. She was holding hands with her husband. I felt again the stabbing wounds of infertility.

During the drive home, I thought about what I imagined was so wonderful about parenthood. I didn't think about trips to Costco or shopping for shoes or making dinner (except when we playfully made dinner together as a family). I thought about going for walks; discovering new bugs; changing diapers while cooing to our baby; breastfeeding; the sound of the unbelievably joyful laughter that only the young seem capable of; the three (or four) of us together as a family -just happily sharing each other's company.

I know, logically, that life with children is not one big happy moment. I know that most of the day is spent doing mundane things. Logically, it seems having children ought not to be that big of a deal. But it is and I can't figure out why.

I was never so broken hearted over the job I didn't get or the boyfriend I couldn't keep, the favorite pet that died or the grandparent who passed away in my arms. I saw my life going on without all of those things. Why can't I imagine a life without children? Why can't Brad and I just say, "Well, that didn't work. Let's just live child-free. " and be happy about it? Why is it so darn important?

Today when I learned I wouldn't get my one last chance with my own eggs, I suddenly felt the pain of our failures and losses all over again. While part of me was lost in grief, tears streaming down my face, the other part wondered how something that ought not to be that important could hurt so bad. Why is the absence of the preteen-boy with the skates (the one I don't even want) so utterly painful?

I just don't know. The pain of infertility is real. The incredible longing is real. The sadness and grief and fear are all very real. I want to have children more than I have ever wanted anything else in my life - nothing else even compares. Yet, I can't figure out why it is all so important.

In the end, I reach the same conclusion I always reach. It must be instinct - a primal urge that leads us down the path of reproduction. I want children like I want to keep breathing. I just do. Any reason is merely the rationalization of a decision already made in the programming of my genes. Or maybe not. Either way, I don't know what else to do at this point other than keep trying so maybe it doesn't matter why I want to be a mom so badly. I just do.


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Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post. I am struggling with IF too, and I often look at women with their children and think, "What would I be thinking if I was in their place?"

Pamela T. said...

I have done the exact same thing you describe during your Costco experience, and I have thought the same thoughts you are now about why I wanted my own child so much that it nearly drove me to distraction. It's comforting to know that I'm not alone in my thinking.

As to the "why," I don't think we'll ever fully be able to explain it. There are so many big and little things that contribute to the longing. The urge is biological, stoked by societal expectations and our love for our husbands. At the same time I know I've struggled with my desire to be in the "mommy club" because I didn't want to be different or made to feel inferior in the way that only those who conceive naturally can make us feel.

All I know is that I ponder it still even after having made the decision not to pursue treatments further...