This is not a sad story. So don’t get any ideas. Especially “solutions.”
“Well, if it were me…”
But it’s not you.
“I’d be just devastated…”
Nevertheless, I’m okay with it.
And you can be too.
My vertical hold refused hold as the recovery room flipped across my field of vision and I fought my way through the haze of anesthesia. There was softness to his voice, but it was more than tenderness. A palpable weight, a crushing, pressing it down as he stroked my arm and whispered my name. I could hear it before the words even escaped my husband’s lips. There would be no children.
I don’t remember his quote, just its contents and the extreme care and compassion with which it was shared. No cancer. No more internal bleeding. No more growths. But no more womb either. And going in he had assured me, whatever came, for him, the two of us would always be enough. And he meant it. Because it was true. He’s just that kind of man.
My surgeon and I had gone through all of my wishes with each step of discovery before the first cut. If it was this, I wanted that. Or this, that. My husband had even kept a written copy close should any questions arise. So going in, I knew there was a chance this would be the final outcome. But now, it was all so very final. That potential life cut away and stitched shut, leaving a permanent scar…but not the anticipated pain. Hmmm.
And so, as the wound slashed across my belly bound itself together, my mind also began closing in…on itself. Why was I not more upset about this? Shouldn’t I be devastated? What was wrong with me? I always thought I wanted kids, but now, meh, not so much. Maybe there was something far more malignant within? Something dark on my soul that couldn’t be severed with a scalpel? That had to be it right? I mean what type of woman who absolutely loved children, suddenly didn’t want them for herself?
Me! That’s who! And I was pretty sure I was okay with that.
But some of those around me were deeply disappointed by my deficit of distress. As if I had somehow dissed their own decisions through my lack of remorse over my absence of offspring. They seemed to see it as some personal judgment of them rather than oh, I don’t know, just being content with what I had.
“You’ll just adopt!” Not a suggestion. Not a call to consideration. A command. “There are lots of kids out there who need good homes.”
“Oh, I didn’t realize you were considering it yourself,” I’d slyly smile.
“Oh, of course not. We have kids of our own.” And always from someone who secretly saw adoption as less than, which it absolutely is not.
Or easy. As if I were just going to throw a kid in my cart along with the butter and bread I was already buying at Albertsons. You realize they don’t stock newborns in the bargain bin? Those things are expensive!
“Then just get an older kid.” Seriously? These are human beings we are discussing, not substitutions on a menu. No you can’t just swap your bread for a second salad! And no, I shouldn’t be expected to just trade my tubes for a teenager! Adoption is a calling to care for someone. Not ordering up a side dish to fill in for whatever you perceive to be missing from my plate. And by the way, I don’t see you offering to buy my “dinner,” so step off and savor your own supper.
Easier daydreamed than done. Because there it was, for some reason, a whole pocketful of people with their own insecurities suddenly drawn to the surface and flapping in my face. Demanding not only reassurance that I was recovering just fine, but that they were all okay too.
“But I thought you liked children?” I most certainly do, but what if I said I didn’t? How exactly does that affect you? Were you considering returning yours, based on my response? Because you know they don’t take those things back without a receipt.
“But you’ll tell me if you’re thinking about changing your mind?” Oh sure, just the way you tell me every time you’re ovulating and thinking about getting it on.
“Well, you just have no idea what it’s like to be a parent.” Exactly. Just like you have no idea what it’s like to never be one. You see, just because you weren’t a parent, but are one now, doesn’t mean that you know what it’s like to be me. Me without kids is not you before kids. It’s also not you longing to have kids. It’s not you carefree because you never had them. It’s not you in any way shape or form. It’s also, not your friend, or your cousin, or that woman you saw in that Lifetime movie. It’s me.
And I’m not broken. Or confused. Or pissed off. Or empty. Or less than. Or better than. Or judging you. Or seeking your approval. Or your counsel on any of it. I’m just me. The way that I am. And I’m okay with that.
And you can be okay with it too, if you want to be…or not. But if you aren’t, guess what? I’m okay with that too.
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