“Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you”
To my shame, I’ve forgotten from whom I received this challenge. It may have been Yvonne, as it’s the kind of eminently sensible, hugely complex thing she’d suggest to me. If it wasn’t Yvonne, and it was you, and I’ve forgotten, you have my apologies. It’s eminently sensible and staggeringly difficult and hugely complex. Which is why I’ve not addressed it yet.
It was in my pre-Christmas freak-out that the challenge came. And in tiny ways, I’ve responded. In small pieces; little nods to the idea. But I cemented it a little the other week with my Ten Trials. And this one looks the biggest and meanest at the moment. But I must face it. And better to face it at a time when I have both feet (just about) on the ground.
Because come the end of February, I think I’ll feel sufficiently obliterated by it to not have the fortitude to write this. And I need to write this. Need to. Because it’s true. It’s been true. It will be true.
But it’s so painful – how can I possibly be thankful for childlessness? How can I take this bitter, heavy cross, and try to see it in any kind of positive light? If you’ve read me before on this, you’ll know how my hopes have been so burdensome and so destructive, that I’ve had to dole them out to friends to hang onto. You’ll know how each time someone (usually Kristi) tells me to ‘never say never’, or ‘you just don’t KNOW about the future’, I agree, glumly, with a gut feeling which tells me I know precisely what the future holds (or, more pertinently, doesn’t hold). I can’t shake it.
Ye who’ve been here for me know how bad it’s been. How low the lows. How devastating it’s been to receive each new understanding of just how awful the situation is, and how slim our chances are. You’ve heard me bitch, whine and rave about how unfair it is, how fed up I am of it all. How much I wish it were different. You’ve borne with me as I’ve gotten sucked into the ‘if only’s. You’ve humoured the ‘what about if I…’s and you’ve tried very hard to hold your tongues as I’ve let this thing dominate my life and rip my focus from the realities of the situation, the Good Things I still enjoy, and the uncomfortable truth that, relatively speaking, if the worst I have to deal with in life is a spot of childlessness, really I’ve got it pretty cushy*.
And ye who’ve been here for me know how, in spite of everything, there has been beauty. There has been Good. There have been improvements in ways I never thought possible. You’ve celebrated with me as Husby and I both got jobs. You’ve whooped and hollered and cheered when I’ve been able to say that Husby’s depression seems to be receding. You’ve spurred me on when I’ve said I’m NOT going to drink. You’ve messaged and emailed and commented and kept me afloat. You’ve joined the ranks of my ‘here’ people in getting me through this. And I’m endlessly grateful.
But there’s more to come.
February 13th. The day before Valentine’s day.
The day it all (probably) changes for the worst. Because we know that the drugs Husby’s on at the moment have a tendency to increase the risk of prostate cancer. And now his Da has a diagnosis for that, it’s almost a certainty that they’ll want to change over to the cheaper, more effective (for everything but fertility) hormones. And then the infertility will rapidly become a done deal rather than a ‘status pending’. Then we’re onto our final
chance – ICSI
. And I can’t, can’t, can’t
bring myself to pin any hopes on that.
So in the meantime, because it seems the right and sensible thing to do, if only so that I can look back on this in a few weeks/months/years and know that there really ARE some silver linings: Ten Things I’m Thankful for about not having kids.
1. Our Neverborns. Losing them was so hard, and yet thinking back to how last year was, with Husby’s depression taking hold and trying to destroy everything, if I’d had a baby to care for, I think I would have cracked. Not having children meant that I was able to be there for Husby as much as I could, and offer him the support and encouragement that I was able to give, to try to keep him going.
2. I wouldn’t have been able to spend so much time over last summer with Niece and Neff, looking after them, developing my Auntyship and supporting Sis.
3. Now we have jobs, Husby and I can begin to relax, get out of poverty-mode and enjoy some of the luxuries of being DINKies (that’s Double Income, No Kids).
4. I get to enjoy all the things which parents often blog about missing – sleep, going to the bathroom unpestered, shopping by myself, not getting punched/kicked/smacked, or covered in paint/vomit/poop. There will be no nappies to change, no toilets to unclog, no fights to deal with. I don’t have to worry about the right schools or homework or extra-curricular activities. I don’t have to deal with the agony of bullies or struggles with learning. I won’t have teenage rebellions or panics when they start experimenting with things I disapprove of. My time is my own, unfettered by the insistent demands of a child. I can have late nights and long naps and lie-ins and do as I please.
5. Husby’s out of the depression (for now, and hopefully for a long, LONG time) and I have back the guy I fell for in the first place. The guy I dated. The guy who kissed me in coffee shops and proposed on one knee in the rain. The guy who knew the same random limerick about pelicans, and who gets excited about castles and science and silly TV shows. The guy who will put EVERYTHING on his head as a hat (if he can). I can enjoy being with him without having both our attentions distracted by the demands of a child.
|There can still be this, in our future: little old uglies still holding hands
6. I get to borrow children and give them back. I’m blessed with Niece and Neff, my Bezzie’s two kids and my Goddaughter and her bro. And a few older kids as well – heritage of my daycare days, and I get to spend time with them, do the fun stuff, and then send them back home, thinking that I’m AMAZING. I’ll keep the second bedroom, because I plan to be the one they all run away from home to.
7. I’ll be able to focus on my job. I’ll get my diploma and then if there’s the opportunity, will be able to start moving up the ranks. I’ll earn more money that way, and can enjoy more of the DINKie lifestyle.
8. I’ll be EASILY able to go on my Bloggy Tour of America once I’ve saved up. No need to worry about arranging babysitters or trying to travel with an infant in tow. Just straightforward pack up and leave for a wonderful time.
9. I can use the hurt to support others. Maybe not straight away, but once it’s less intense. I (shall) belong to a small club of very deeply hurting people. I hope that I can continue to be involved in the infertility community, using words to break taboos and spread light and sunshine and understanding and compassion. I want to be able to encourage from within the ranks. I want to end up like a couple I know, who have lived this for many years, and have broken through the pain to find peace. It’s peace tinged with sadness, but their lives are good, and they inspire me so much. They are warm and caring and honest and open and quite wonderful, and they LOVE other people’s kids, which is how I came to know them – I was lucky enough to be one of the ‘other people’s kids’ they got to know when I was tiny.
10. I’m out. I invoke no secret rules. I dance no dances to get past the Seven GuardVirgins. I don’t comply. And I’m about to start writing the inverse of every single one of these, because there’s not a one of them I can’t see as being better With Kids, and not a single thing I wouldn’t trade, so I’d better hit publish and get it over with.
*But for an accident of birth, I could have been riddled with disease, starving, watching my children get forced into slavery or the army, getting the shit bombed out of me, or any one of a HUGE number of terrifyingly MUCH harder things that the people of this world face – primarily beyond the comfy realms of the Western world, and it’s easy to forget them. But they exist. And they’d probably give their eye-teeth to live in my home, earn my income and enjoy the safety, ease and mod-cons I take completely for granted.