Wednesday, August 13, 2014

A Monthly Reminder

This post deviates from my typical food-focused entries but has everything to do with me relishing life — my life.

I am reminded monthly of the failure of my body. It's failed to perform the function that the standard-issue female chromosomes allow most women to experience at some point if they so choose.

I've never dreamed of being a mother. I didn't fantasize about being a mom as a child or play "house" where I babied my pretend children or dolls. I played with Legos and built things. I colored and made art. I played "grown ups" with Barbie dolls and cared about their fashion, not their imaginary well-being or feelings. I babysat for a couple of years on and off, and I was naturally not great at it. I lacked the patience for dealing with a human being who couldn't effectively communicate with me or didn't do as requested — being an only child didn't equip me with these skills, mainly patience.

When I was asked if I wanted to be a mom some day, my response was, "Well if I have kids, I'd prefer to have twins. One boy and one girl; get it over with in one shot." Get it over with. As though even at a young age my perception was that having children was an obligation, something to check off my to-do list, along with every other girl.

As I transitioned from my teens into my twenties, my friends began having children — I was around kids more often. Honestly, they terrified me. I was the person handing a baby back to its parent like it was a bomb ready to explode if there was the slightest hint of unhappy behavior. They were only fun when they were clean and happy. Poop-free and drool-free. Seeing their stressed, sleep-deprived, broke(n) and frazzled parent(s) only confirmed what I already suspected, I don't want this lifestyle.

I met "the one," David, during that same time period. I was clear that I didn't want children. He was okay with that, in fact, he felt the same way. We all but shook on it. Then came Charlie, David's brother, and his wife's third child. Charles Dalton Hough was born on March 10, 2007. I was 30. I held him within a few hours of him being born. My heart and ovaries melted. That experience kicked off something in those aforementioned chromosomes that I never anticipated. “I want one," I told David. "Let's get a puppy," said David.

That's how we ended up with a Great Dane, Marmalade. Adding her to our family was a great decision and she was a perfect baby pacifier, for a while. That annoying "I want one" feeling was still tugging at the edges of my heart and that biological whatever it is that makes some women go baby crazy. He was getting soft too though, and at some point, we were buying a baby gift for a friend or family member and came across a vintage Winnie the Pooh baby wrap that touched us both. We bought it, just in case we might need it, some day.

May 2009, I was staying at a local resort with family visiting from South Carolina, girls weekend! I realized the first night that I had forgotten my birth control at home. I called my husband to see if he could drop it by and we decided to worry about it later. Worry about it later meant we were going to sit down and have a discussion about whether or not we wanted to be parents — it would mean adjusting our long-term plans and moving to a bigger house.

Early June 2009, we met with a realtor, we looked at houses the following Saturday and had a signed an accepted offer by Tuesday — exactly a week after we met with the realtor to discuss "possibly looking at houses sometime that summer." We were doing this. We put our townhouse on the market during a time when the market was through the floor and houses weren't selling. It went on the market on a Friday and was sold by the first person that looked at it early the next week, for the full asking price. It was a strange sequence of events that were only successful due to a few key people and our specific circumstances. It was nearly effortless, and we felt it must be meant-to-be, whatever that means. It assured us that we were on the right track.

My mom sent us the first baby toy and book a few short months after we moved into the new house, both Dr. Seuss. I incessantly talked about nursery designs — David teased me that it was the only reason I wanted to have a baby. We both hoped for a girl and quickly settled on a name, Violet. Our stash of adorable baby clothes grew to include onesies adorned with ASU Sun Devils, Tigger and Jack Skellington from "The Nightmare Before Christmas." The Pooh wrap is still in there too. One year, two years, three years — we've now been in this house five years. We’ve been to doctors and specialists, we’ve been poked and prodded and decided in vitro fertilization and adoption weren't right for us. We had no idea we would be this couple. How did we get here? I never wanted a baby in the first place and now seeing a pair of baby shoes in a store messes me up — David too. Being this couple sucks.

We've individually mourned the loss of the child we will never be able to have. Together, it's the only thing we've never really discussed. It is what it is, right? The reality sucks so what's there to talk about? We're mourning a lifestyle we once opted out of. How did we get here? Can I turn these nagging emotions off?

Every month I'm hit with piercing pain and blinding headaches that remind me that my body is a failure. Once a month, I have a misguided glimmer of hope that things could change in an instant. It happens. It could happen. I'm armed with enough information about my body to know it most likely won't happen to me. I feel betrayed by my own body — embarrassed it can't perform its most primal function and purpose.

There was a time when people would ask "and when are you having children," and I would politely smile and say "we're not sure if we're going to do that." People were always confused by that response, reacting as though they were questioning whether or not we were allowed to make such a decision — trying to process that it was a decision we were making, intentionally.

Now when people ask, I feel compelled to tell them we want a child, but it's not happening as if validating our intent to be normal. Something I've never cared about before. The pity in their eyes and on their faces — it makes me wish people just wouldn't ask. Yes, we're broken. We don't operate as expected but in some ways, in many ways, it's what makes us unique — as individuals and a couple. And I cherish that. I love my life, my husband, my home, my family and friends, and my job. I get to be an aunt and friend to a handful amazing little human beings through in-laws and close friends. I feel extremely fortunate.

It's taken some adjustment to get back to the mindset that we are destined to be DINKS (Double Income, No Kids). I've poured myself into my work, picked up a few new hobbies, we've traveled, remodeled our kitchen, we got a cat (a.k.a. pacifier #2), I ditched the kid friendly mom car and found something that's more fun to drive, and we're getting a new backyard, and it includes a pool. There's a freedom in both time and money that comes with being childless. It's bittersweet.