I worked all last summer to reduce the amount of stuff we had in the house. I threw so much away as both George and I are "savers." My motivation was that we were going to be parents soon and needed to make room for baby. Now there is room for baby, but baby is not here and may never ever be here. Sometimes, I walk into what was going to be the nursery and is now a sitting room, and slide open the mirrored closet door. On the top wooden rack next to my wedding gown hangs a single outfit for a 0-9 month old. A blue sleeper with white clouds in animal shapes and an applique that reads "I love mommy." My mom bought this for me last summer during an outing we took while she was going through chemotherapy treatments for stage 3 colon cancer. The bright light in our lives at that scary time was talking about the adoption process that George and I were starting.
Dealing with extreme exhaustion from the chemo, we'd lay on Mom's bed and I'd float baby names. Mom loved talking about anything baby especially baby names. I loved the look on my dad's face when we told him that the tradition in George's family is to have the male child's middle names be the first name of both grandfather's. My dad said, well, I guess Grandpa's name will be used twice (my brother was named after my dad's dad). And I said, "Dad, no, you are gonna be the grandpa." The realization of "woah" was written all over his face. Classic. A happy memory.
George and I read many books and researched adoption. My health was better than it ever had been and we simply expected that it would continue. My days of disability were over. We prayed and made sure that our hearts were aligned. We felt that even if my Migraines relapsed, we had a plan of how to take care of a child.
I was prepared for Migraines, but I wasn't prepared for another chronic illness. I started to have vertigo that was mild at first and eventually became disabling along with right ear pain, tinnitus, hearing loss and "drop attacks". Diagnosis: Meniere's disease. At first, I blew off the symptoms and tried to pretend they were not affecting my life as much as they were. Several ER visits later and finally being unable to function, I could not ignore reality. Unfortunately my Migraine preventative also started to give out and I was disabled by both Migraines and Meniere's. Oddly enough, the Meniere's was worse.
George and I had gone through months of classes, tests & interviews, written 10 page autobiographies, gotten CPR certified, spent thousands of dollars and were almost finished with our home study process. But, it was not to be. My body said no and we had to listen.
We made the painful decision to stop the adoption process in mid-January. The grief is unimaginable. So many women deal with infertility and miscarriages.. And I believe there are many of us women who experience loss of being able to be a parent due to chronic illness. We got our chronic illnesses young enough that we did not have children yet and so the chronic illness factors in to our decision making in becoming a parent.
I always wanted to parent. I loved working with children as a speech language pathologist and have a special connection with them. Right now, not being able to parent hurts my heart so much that it almost takes my breath away. Presently, it is so incredibly hard for me to see others have that joy. All of my high school friends have children, just had a baby or are pregnant. I probably know five people who are currently pregnant that are my age. I am thrilled for them. But, it is awfully hard for me as I was supposed to be "pregnant" too. Right now, George and I were supposed to be on a waiting list for a child.
Some people have attempted to be comforting in saying "Well, you'll be an aunt someday and that will bring you joy." To me, that is like if I were single and they said to me, "Well, your sister is getting married, so that will bring you some happiness." Well of course, but not the same as if I were going to be the one in the marriage. Nothing is a substitute. Some say: "You are young and have plenty of time." Well, not really, as George is 8 years older than me. As he approaches a certain age, he will not want children anymore. And regardless of all these things, my grief is now. Can we just acknowledge that please? That I'm sad now?!
My grief over this is not just for myself, but for my parents and George's parent's. My mom wants grandchildren so badly. I used to tell people she wanted me to have a baby yesterday. And I know it has been difficult for her. My parents would be fabulous grandparents. I wish I could bring some joy into their lives in the form of a grandchild as the cancer really wrecked havoc. George's parents are ten years older than mine and I feel so much pressure on my shoulders. They would be great grandparents too and if I have children I want them to know their paternal grandparents as well, but time is ticking. I feel incredibly guilty that I (my chronic illnesses) am the reason that no grandchildren exist.
I shut the closet door. The baby blue sleeper with white clouds represents my hope that I will be a parent someday. We are going to paint the sitting room green. Green for change and growth and investing in a life together whether or not we are able to parent.