Friday, April 30, 2010

What if I never become a mother?

I am writing this post as part of Project IF in commemoration of National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW): Hundreds of additional "what ifs" shared by others in the ALI community can be found here.

I have wanted to be a mother for as long as I can remember. Even as a teenager, I used to think about my future children. At that age, I thought my future children would come into my life when I was in my late 20s/early 30s, but the thought that I might not be a mother never really crossed my mind.

And yet I never made achieving motherhood a priority until recently. As I have written here before, throughout my 20s, as I moved around, began and ended romantic relationships, and ultimately went back to school for a career change, I naively thought I would have all the time I needed to get pregnant when the time was right. When I was settled in one place that I could make my home, when I met the right man (father), when I was financially secure, I would simply stop using birth control and, in short order, become pregnant.

Clearly things have not gone according to plan.

If I never become a mother, I suppose, as my mother has always told me, I will just "do other things with [my] time." I wrote at length here about the upside of not being a parent, and I don't doubt that there is one. . . I just don't think, for me, that the upside is much of a compensation for being childless. I think any honest parent will tell you, though they longed for and love their children, that being a parent is a different life from what you had before or from what you would have if you had never had a child.

On the other hand, if I never become a mother, there are so many things I will miss. I will never get to feel my baby moving inside me. I will never get to give birth or breast feed.

I will never hear a little voice call me "Mommy" or say "I love you." I will never get to relate the funny things my child says and does to my sister and to my parents. I will never watch my child sleeping, or hold and comfort her when she is afraid or sad. I will never know the satisfaction of watching my child start school, master skills, and someday grow up and leave my home.

I will never know the fulfillment of nurturing another human being and helping him grow into the person he is supposed to become. I will never see parts of myself, or my husband, or my parents in our child. My in-laws will never be grandparents, and I will never have my own grandchildren.

I will never know that common bond with other women who have shared the experience of motherhood. I will never be able to contribute to a conversation about children by sharing my own experiences as a parent.

In short, I will miss out one of the most life-changing experiences anyone could hope to have.

What if, through the help of ART, I am able to conceive and to give birth to a healthy, living child of our own? What if our current treatment cycle works? What if I do become a mother after all?

It is that hope that makes me keep trying.

To learn the basics about infertility, go here.


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