Tuesday, November 10, 2009

the beauty of a child

It has become a Sunday ritual.
I’m usually at my parents' house on Sunday, solving the crossword, when they arrive home from lunch. My niece's small frame peers over the couch and greets me with a smile. There was a time when she wouldn’t acknowledge me, passing through the stages of toddler independence, but she has outgrown that. She smiles broadly, showing her teeth, raises her eyebrows, lifts her head, and with her red curly hair encasing her head like a beautiful halo, she exclaims, “Hi, Kwisti!”. That’s when I melt.

It’s naptime after Sunday lunch. One time, my niece approached me in the living room, holding a stuffed animal, and said, “Kwisti, come nap wif me.” I was sure Nana put her up to it, but it was still adorable. Of course, I obliged.

Again, I was happy to lie down with her this past Sunday afternoon. I had been milling over my choices on my own reproductive future. I hadn’t vocalized my concerns, but I had been running scenarios through my head. What if’s. Why me’s. If only’s.

I crawled into bed with my niece after she was already asleep. Being hot natured, she was shirtless with only a sheet as a cover. I slid up next to her, careful not to wake her, and absorbed her beauty. Her hair is similar to mine—color, texture, lack of control. Her skin is commonly compared to a China doll’s white, flawless tone. But what struck me was her frame. This angel is now 3. It seems an eternity ago that she came into this world. We had wondered at the time what she would look like, act like, sound like. And I have to tell you, I’m awestruck. She is creative, intelligent, and analytical. She is funny and manipulative. She is no longer a baby, but a little girl. The cries and noises, are now replaced by words, conversation, creativity, stories, and song. Lots and lots of songs—in tune, mind you.

I gazed at her neck and her frame. I wanted to touch her soft skin, and even reached out my hand, but stopped myself in fear of waking her. As the light entered through the window, highlighting her shoulders, I wondered how something so perfect could exist--something so innocent. I remember praying before she was born that she not inherit my depression, and be spared my low self esteem and fears. So far, so good.

As I pondered the magnificence of God's creation, I wondered if I had the strength and patience for a child, and if my chance for one was truly over. Surely if I had a daughter, she couldn’t match the beauty of the child next to me. I wondered why some people keep children they don’t want, with so many families waiting for a child. How can anyone intentionally hurt a child? How can God allow some children to be born into horrible homes, and allow good homes to remain childless?

Soon, I fell asleep. But even now, days later, my mind drifts back to those quiet moments of reflection. The song that comes to mind each time is one by Steve Nicks, Landslide:

“…Oh, mirror in the sky what is love? Can the child within my heart rise above? Can I sail through the changing ocean’s tide? Can I handle the seasons of my life?
Well I’ve been afraid of changing, ‘cause I’ve built my life around you. Time makes you bolder, and even children get older. I’m getting older too.”

Many of my expectations and hopes have included lying down with my own child. I am left wondering if this is the closest I will ever get—lying next to my niece. Is a child what I really want, or just what I’ve always expected? How could any child be more perfect than this? Am I really prepared for the dedication of motherhood? Am I really prepared for a life without any children? So many questions, so few answers.. . . . . . .

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Barren is dead word

The word hysterectomy has permanence to it. There is no turning back. “Hysteria “ refers to a woman’s reproduction organs , and “-ectomy “ denotes removal.

Since my divorce 7-1/2 years ago, I have battled pre-cancerous cells that went away on their own, some so severe they were removed by surgery. I have my ex-husband to thank for the HPV that caused all of this. I’ve had an enlarged and sensitive cervix my whole life. I have cysts on my ovaries, and cysts in my uterus. When my doctor lasered my cervix, she took as little as possible to preserve my ability to have children, but warned another surgery like that would render me barren. That was several years ago.

Now, I’m 37. I have no children, and have never been pregnant. I did what I was taught—get married first, then have children. My ex not only left me an HPV present, but he left just as we agreed to start trying for a child. (FML) I kept telling myself through all of my abnormal paps, "God is preserving my organs for a child, right?" Apparently not.

I’ve waited for Mr. Right for a very long time, in vain. I sat in my gyno’s office a few weeks ago and she began asking about my periods. I gave her the rundown—my cramps last 7 days, my periods last 7 to 8 days, and are VERY heavy. I may have a period twice a month, maybe only once. You never know until it happens. I’ve had periods since the age of 10. I have other issues that have popped up in recent months that I won’t describe here. (TMI)

She told me that my options have ended, and offered me a hysterectomy. I told her I wanted to wait for more vacation and more money. But honestly, I wanted time to think about it. I was shocked at her offer, and left her office in shock. She told me to call anytime that I’m ready.

I am at that age where pregnancy means taking on huge developmental risks for that child. I’m at a high risk for infertility and miscarriage. And let’s face it—I’m not even in a relationship!!!!!

My mom asked me tonight why I am waiting to have surgery, and I told her that I know what will happen: I will say, “Let’s do it”, and I will emotionally break. As soon as I said that to my mom, I nearly broke. As tears rolled down my face and my lips quivered, I told my parents, “You guys have to realize how hard it is. It’s hard to go to church and see these young couples talk about God bringing them together. And you see them having babies, and saying that God gave them this gift. It makes you feel worthless. Like God hates you or is playing favorites. I can’t look at that anymore! But the day I give in to being barren will be the first day of many, many tears. ”

And so, the reality is setting in. I haven’t been to church in a while for a number of reasons. This is one of them. There is a part of me that thinks it’s pointless, because God isn’t listening anyway. And I am concluding that it is time for a hysterectomy. I’m tired of waiting. Tired of wanting. Tired of hope. The older I get, the scarier the thought of bringing a child into the world. I am only up for it if I’m in a healthy relationship, and I’m not even close to that.

I was talking to my friend Randall the other night about relationships. I told him, “In a perfect world, a man would come up to me and ask me out, and I would say, ‘here is a book called Love is a Choice, about overcoming codependency. Read it, think about it, and then call me if you are still interested.’ And months later he would call me, still interested, but emotionally healthier than before.” Randall laughed and said, “No, in the perfect world, he would say, ‘Oh, that book? I already own it. It’s helped me tremendously.’ Then you would KNOW it was a match made in heaven.” He is so right. And well, this isn’t a perfect world, is it?

Now, it's out in the open. The conversation with my parents, and this blog, make it real. So I guess the next step is: when shall I do it?