Kids are a joy…and a lot of work. For about 4 years now, much of my social life has revolved around my friends and family and their children. Children make me so very happy, so it should come as no surprise that my husband and I have spoken about having kids.
Being an aunt is wonderful, but at times strange. I love the children in my life. However, when you are an aunt, you miss out on the true love a child has for their parent, and vice versa. I may be the coolest, best aunt ever, but these children will never love me the way they love their mother and, without kids, I have never experienced the unconditional, amazing, terrifying love that comes with being a parent. I often feel like an imposter. I am always happy to take the kids off their parent’s hands, even with my back problems, but I am not their mother. I have no say in how they are raised, I don’t have any parental authority and I have to be very careful with the parents not to overstep my bounds, even if I have the best intentions at heart. Help can sometimes be mistaken when it comes to children that are not your own.
The sad fact is, I am not in the physical condition to have a child, and despite what some people think, I am aware of that. I know that I can’t run after a toddler, or carry a baby for hours, or easily get a child in and out of a car seat, but it doesn’t take away the desire, or at least the thought to have a child. I guess part of me keeps hoping that my pain will improve so that I can eventually have my own children, but with each month and new medication I try (that is rated harmful to pregnancy), it seems more like a pipe dream and for the most part, I have accepted my fate.
However, one of the issues that arise from the statement that I have thought about having kids is the occasional looks and comments I get. I get the “You want kids?” look. As if my disability automatically disqualifies me from having a baby. The look that makes me feel as if I can’t do it, or worse, that others believe I can’t. I have been cautioned, by well-meaning mothers, that having children is hard work, pregnancy and labor are hard on the body, kids are no picnic and every other cliché in the What to Expect When You are Expecting book.
So, this leaves me to constantly wonder if I will be able to have a child. If I do, can I handle it? If I choose to get pregnant, what will others think? Will they think me selfish to have a child in my “condition?” Truthfully, I don’t know if I will ever have a child, if I even can. After 8 months of unsuccessfully trying last year, my back crapped out on me and that was the end of that. My surgeon says that I can get pregnant, with no harm to my screws (at least not the ones in my back). But, at the same time doctors caution me against pregnancy at almost every visit. There is no cut and dry answer because I am not a “typical situation.”
In any case, sometimes the looks and questions and warnings are enough to make me think twice. Do I want kids? As hard as it is to hear, it is equally hard to be 33 and to watch almost every other woman I know get pregnant and have babies. I know that these comments are well-meaning, and I know that I have probably, in my upset at my situation, taken some of these comments to heart, taken them to be a shot at me when they were nothing more than a comment about the nature of pregnancy and children. But, it doesn’t stop me from feeling the sadness that comes with my situation. I get angry at my body for betraying me when I needed it most.
I NEVER, EVER look poorly on friends and family that are pregnant. I think every child that I can love, even if only as an aunt, is a gift and a blessing. I am happy, thrilled for every announcement of pregnancy and I know that I will love that child with all my heart, but in all honesty, that happiness is still like a bullet to the heart (or uterus, as it may be) because it’s not in the cards for me.
What it comes down to is that I can’t change my situation. I can do my best to improve my physical condition, to mentally and physically prepare myself for the possibility of having a child, but the truth is, I think every woman, healthy or not, wonders, “Do I really want kids?”
For an interesting, related post, check out “My Uterus Is None of Your Business” at the Chronic Pain Blog, “Oh What A Pain in the…” at http://ohwhatapain.wordpress.com/2013/05/02/my-uterus-is-none-of-your-business/