January 22, 2004
You know that old saying about a woman having a biological clock, etc.? Yeah...it's not really a clock for some women. It's actually more like a giant fucking gong being beaten by one thousand wired Buddhists tripping on incense. Or one of those cartoon cats who sticks his head in a giant bell which gets banged on by some evil grinning mouse, causing said cat's body to vibrate for hours. That's the biological clock.
I know. I am hearing it.
When I was 22 years old, living happily with Kim and firmly convinced that this was the only life I would ever lead (not suspecting for a moment that I actually had more lives than a cat), I had the surgical procedure known as a tubal ligation done.
I did it as I knew that Kim was my past, present and future. I did it since I knew that he absolutely, positively hated children and never wanted them. I did it since I absolutely, positively never wanted children either. I also did it since I had a medical and hereditary condition that would be passed on to children, and I didn't think that was right.
So I had my tubes tied and never looked back. And when Kim and I broke up, I still didn't regret the operation. And when I met Partner Unit, so cheerful and full of desire for children, I still didn't regret it, as I was fully prepared to adopt or foster children.
I have never wanted to have my own children. I have never been inbued with the desire to be pregnant, to feel something growing inside of me, to be bonded to another individual by the incredible biological link that is a child. Above all, I haven't wanted to be pregnant because I cannot face the idea of being swollen like that. As a recovering anorexic, I can tell you that there is little else in the world as scary as the idea that you will gain 30 or so pounds with a child.
About two years ago, I suddenly discovered-almost overnight actually-that I wanted children. Not my own children, but children nonetheless. I had always thought I would be the childless type of woman, but all at once I found that my arms almost literally ached to hold a child of my own. The feeling was incredible and terrifying, all at once.
It was time.
And so when Partner Unit revealed that he would never adopt, I realized that we had to have our own children. To be honest, the yearning for motherhood was so great, that I was willing to give it a try. Just in order to be a mother, a condition which set in swiftly and unexpectedly. Well...that, and I wanted to save our relationship (yes, yes...I know. The worst reason in the world to have children, I know.)
To be a mother meant that I had to undergo IVF. You read about it alot, but allow me to say it here-IVF is the closest definition to undescribable hell that there is. In fact, if you go throught IVF you earn some time out of purgatory. Satan is seriously sympathetic to synthetic hormone therapy. After all, he invented the stuff.
It is a horrible, terrible, life-altering experience. You are so hopped up on hormones and busy with nose sprays and injections that you feel like you are a pincushion maniac with a chocolate binge from hell. One day my mother called, and I was vacuuming, screaming and crying, and for some reason feeling it was the end of the world since one of the cats knocked a candle off the table and broke it. Said cat was huddling under a table, roughly the size of a beaver, worried that I would skin it for said candle-breaking.
These things seem so important then...
Your body goes mental, but the day that they implant the fertilized eggs is the day you become the most protective and nurturing person on earth. You become an Earth Mother. Hippies make sense to you. Even though you are still using vaginal hormone suppositories that are disgustingly messy and thoroughly degrading, you feel like the Every Woman.
I talked to my babies, once they were re-implanted. I talked to them all the time. And when they started to implant (you can tell by this stringy brown discharge you have, which is the uterine wall), then the feeling is so thrilling. To take these special pregnancy tests designed to pick up the slightest levels of HCG hormone (which tells you that you're pregnant), and see them go positive...you wouldn't believe how incredible that feels.
I lost my babies about a week later, and I can't think of them without wanting to break apart still. That was the only time in my whole life that I wanted to be pregnant, where I wanted them so much that I would've moved mountains to keep them.
Until now. When we flew back to Stockholm from our Christmass break in the U.S., we waited for our luggage at the carousel at Arlanda airport. Partner Unit was looking for our bags, and I manned the luggage cart. I sleepily turned to my left, and saw a woman in a long black knit dress, with a hard nub of a stomach that showed she was about 4 or 5 months pregnant, bulging softly through the dress.
And that feeling hit me so hard I felt like I was sucker-punched. At that moment, I wanted to have a baby-my baby-I wanted to be pregnant and have a child more than anything else in the world. I could almost feel my stomach aching to feel it, to hold that emotion inside.
And that feeling hasn't left yet. I still yearn-absolutely ache-for a child. It doesn't help knowing that Partner Unit and I have 3 embryos in a freezer on the other side of Stockholm. Embryos that will be destroyed in two years if we don't use them. And me-emphatic believer in pro-choice-I just can't stop feeling like I am killing them by not using them. At the same time, I know that trying for them with this crumbling relationship is not on, and so in the freezer they will stay.
But the feeling remains. The yearn for children. The almost physical ache that makes you feel like you've been cleaved in half. And not only that, now those nauseating pics of Gwenyth Paltrow having her stomach kissed while screaming with laughter with hubby Chris Martin have upped the bar-now I not only want to have a baby (mine or adopted), but I want one with someone as giddy with excitement as I am.
You know, I don't for one moment regret the surgery I had. It was done for the right reasons, and I can't imagine the stupid choices in life I might have made before (had the ability to have children been on offer) with some of the parade of losers that I have dated.
But I can tell you-the biological clock does exist. It's real. I know, I can hear it.
PS-Happy Chinese New Year to all the Monkeys out there!
PPS-hey, Ben at IP address 184.108.40.206! You're the first IP address on my banned list. Congratulations. Now go run along and write bitterly nasty comments on someone else's site.
PPS-The woman processing my Swedish citizenship is back in the office. She has ruled on my case, and the decision will come to me via post next week. Scary to think that another part of my fate has been decided and I will find out about it soon. Wish me luck!
Posted by Everydaystranger at January 22, 2004 08:28 AM
we did ivf but we have not sucsses
i have great empathy for your baby plight. i wish you the best. i hope you find a good relationship and adopt.
i myself am now old enough that i could practically toss away the birth control, my chances are so low.
i have never felt the clock; never heard the slightest tick. and as each year passes and the fertility stats drop, i personally feel more and more free.
Wow-Roger's right-masses of great advice and great insight. I love how other women are feeling this way, and all the parents that make it sound like war, but with good consequences.
And Sue and Jiminy-no worries! I am not in any rush to do this now, maybe a year or so down the line. This despite me truly understanding Marisa Tomei banging her foot on the porch :)
All I know for sure is that I have truly been blessed with 4 great kids. We (the husband and I) decided before we were married that even if we couldn't have our own children we would adopt. It is the world's hardest challenge, raising children, but SO worth it. I get little pay offs every day. I agree with Jiminy about waiting until your personal situation is a more stable, but somehow I think you already know that. :)
Impossible not to comment on this Helen :) First, good luck with the citizenship!...
Babies...hhmm...well I have to agree with Suz...absolutely nothing is the same after children, the world is a different place and I think until you experience it you cannot really know what that means...I love my children to bits but mostly I think I am a crap parent, it doesn't matter how hard I try it is still the hardest job in the world and I make too many mistakes...and it is really hard when they are babies, but to be honest that is nothing to how hard it has been this past year with a 15year old :) Still I don't regret them for a moment, though if I had my time again I would try to ensure more family support, being a parent without any family support is pretty difficult.
(With regards to what Jiminy said) Tru dat.
I know exactly how you feel. I have been feeling the same twinges lately. Every time I see a family, or a movie with a family, or a baby, or anything that represents a baby I get this ache in my arms and belly to have that, hold that, experience that.
As a 33-year old woman who has never heard her biological clock (I think I came without one), I still empathize with you. That sucks what your PU said about adoption. I think adoption is a wonderful thing. I always said if I ever had a kid, I'd prefer to adopt an unwanted baby.
But I do recognize your urge to have your own child. I wish you the best of luck. Hang in there! I agree with one of the other posters about being a big sister or a foster mom to start out with. I think that's a great idea!
They say that the three most stressful things are changing jobs, moving, and having kids. You are going through two of the three. Under these circumstances, I would (and, in fact, did) advise you not to change your haircut, much less make any life-altering decisions about motherhood.
This is not to say that you wouldn't be a good mother. I think you would. It's just a huge change, and a massive responsibility. I remember hearing that parenthood is like living with a gun to your head. I have two guns to my head, and I can tell you it's an absolutely true description. It's a constant fear, just like Suz said, "wearing your heart outside your body." Another great description.
In general, Helen, your life has been a bit manic lately: job stress, lack-of-job stress, PU stress, citizenship stress etc. Then, on the other end, finding-a-job euphoria, screwing Mr. Y post-coital euphoria, going-to-be-in-the-same-country-as-a-recently-broken-up-Mr. Y euphoria. All I'm saying is, slow down a little. While days do seem to turn into months and years, there's absolutely nothing wrong with putting an idea on hold for a set period of time, say, 6 months, to see how the rest of your life settles in. I mean, what if you adopt now, and then it turns out your dream job has you working 14 hours a day? Or travelling? Who is going to look after little Helen, Jr.?
I'm sorry to have to be the voice of reason here, but, hey, that's my job.
About the genetic thing - why not adopt? I advocate for four children that all have the same genetic disorder - their parents just kept breeding. And while I can't say that they shouldn't have a right to make these kids, these kids are going to be affected the rest of their lives with brittle bones, heart problems, breathing problems, mental retardation (two out of the four), etc.
About adopting... I've always wanted to adopt. Since I was a little kid. I don't know about over there, but here in the US there literally tons of children that are either older, or in sibling groups, or have special needs that generally prevent people from wanting them. In most states it's fairly easy to adopt them, and medical, financial, and emotional support is provided.
And you don't have to be married.
Albeit it's not the same as being a true parent, I've found being an Uncle is the perfekt gig for me.
Alas, I'm convinced things are on a totally different wavelength with regard to this subject and women.
Best of luck!
All of you have added wonderful posts to another great Helen blog entry! It is unmistakable that you are all sincere and are good advisors to have around.
Helen, I can see you stamping your foot like Marisa Tomei in "My Cousin Vinny" as she explains her clock to Vinny on the porch of the cabin in the woods(where it is quiet except for screech owls)
I too grew up in turbulence; probably not the identical turbulence you experienced. But after looking back, Dad wasn't such a bad guy. There are things he would never tell me but I figured out. Most of the problems came from where my Mom grew up (which was much worse) and caused fierce countering to make sure the same abnormalities didn't happen for me and my siblings. But in so doing took the life out of living. Dad was a provider but not a man good with words and all of this was beyond him to solve. Divorce was socially out of the question. The focus was not on good living but on not doing anything wrong; constant moralizing. Books were my only excape.
How to have a balanced, happy family life and avoid repeating the past or neurotically trying too hard to insure specfic past abnormalities don't happen is the question I've pondered often. Knowing everybody is different even though they may be in the same role as someone in the past generation who has failed us, helps.
Helen, I have mixed feelings about anyone raising a child alone. I think it's doable *as long as* you have people in your life AND the child's life who are reliable, loving and most of all, responsible. Having interaction with both genders as we grow up is deeply important, irrelevant of whether or not these are strictly "parents" or not. I'm fully in favor of your being a mom, but would definitely recommend that you be very, very sure. We're not talking about something that's reversable, after all.
I understand what you're saying and agree if one parent is completely inept (not insinuating anything about your father), they're as bad (maybe worse) as having only one parent. But you wouldn't look for a deadbeat to marry; you're looking for a responsible guy who loves you and loves children.
Within those parameters, it sounds as though you'd agree a two parent home would be best. Aim high and target what you think is BEST not what's acceptable.
Suz did well to point out some tough problems that single parents face. Besides, it's really hard to get a guy AFTER you have kids. :)
"Here's to hoping that I sort my life out in such a way that I CAN have two parents raising our child. But if it doesn't work out that way, I am prepared to go it alone."
When I think of how little control we have over things like meeting the "right" guy. And then you're told that things that you yearn for most in life won't come until then. It seems wrong that what you yearn for most, you don't have any control over...
Thankfully, we live in a world where going after motherhood on your own is not something that is impossible. If you're willing to live a harder life because of it, that only gives you more strength which it turn makes you a better mother overall. Your children will be lucky to have you regardless of whether a father comes in the deal or not.
H my dear, you have more layers than an onion. And you just keep peeling!
I have every confidence that you would be a wonderful mother regardless of relationship status. I recently met a girl that made several trips to Khazikstan to adopt this wonderful little girl all on her own. Some of her friends thought she'd blown a fuse or something but she knew in her heart what she wanted so after weighing all the pros/cons she laid our her plans, went for it, and never looked back. My kids and I had the privilege of meeting them over Christmas and they are two of the most amazing people I know. I'm glad they found each other!
Life has really begun to gel for you lately. Once you've got your feet firmly planted in your new job and new surroundings I know the right maternal direction will present itself.
eh eh eh, here I was thinking "why doesnīt she post the picture of her naked", and now Iīm having secong toughts about telling my grandfathers name here in public... LOL.
Eurico. Old name that isnīt used very much today, backed up by extraordinary men. Now show me the picture... ;). Miguel.
I don't know, Solomon. I was raised in a pretty turbulent household, and finally at the end of the day, only my mother raised us. In our case, I can say without question that it was better to be raised only by my mother than have my father as part of the equation in any way (I am happy to say that my father is now a grown-up, and now part of my life).
I do agree that it is best if a child has two parental figures. But I also agree that one person can sometimes do a better job than some of the pathetic excuses for parental figures I have seen and read about. Do I have what it takes to go at it alone? I like to think so, and what Suz said actually makes sense to me-I think parenting is harder than hell, gritty, and the most rewarding thing in the whole world.
Here's to hoping that I sort my life out in such a way that I CAN have two parents raising our child. But if it doesn't work out that way, I am prepared to go it alone.
While I would never advise someone not to do what they feel in their heart is their destiny, understand deep down in your soul that raising a child is the single most difficult thing in the world. It changes EVERYTHING. The minute you look into their eyes, you will understand the meaning of the word 'vulnerable'. You will forever be walking around with your heart outside your body. My own heart is at the moment at 3 different schools and one office, at 4 different parts of this city. Once you have a child, you are never your own person again. You have to temper everything you do with the thought of how it will affect them. Should I sell my house and move to a different neighborhood? Well, how will it affect them? Should I go out with the girls after work? Well, if I don't come home, who will cook dinner for the kids? If I have that extra glass of wine and they decide to come home from the sleepover, will I be able to go pick them up? When the bully next door picks on your baby, will you be able to stop from throttling him? And that man I love so much? How weird will it be if they find him here in the morning, making coffee in my kitchen? It would be so much easier if their dad were a stand-up guy. But he walked out 2 years ago and never looked back.
Don't misunderstand. I love my children more than life itself. But keep in mind that celebrities and their 'relationships' are an illusion. Real life is grittier and comes with unexpected twists.
Yes, you CAN do it all on your own; no question about that. But do you want what's good or what's best for your child/children? Men and women each nurture children in a different way, and children benefit from both.
The term "Momma's boy" came from boys who grow up without a father figure and become sissies, because they don't have the manly influence to help guide them. Girls who grow up without a dad often have low self-esteem and don't know what qualities to look for in a man when they get older.
Can you play a guitar with only 3 strings? Sure, and if you're good, you can play nice music. But is it better and more effective to play with 6 strings? Absolutely!! The sound is richer, fuller, more diverse, and much more enjoyable. I don't doubt one can be a good single parent, but I don't think anyone can build a good argument for one parent being better than two (except for an abusive parent which isn't what you'd target for a husband anyway).
No one would encourage a guitarist to start a concert with 3 strings but would admire one that continued to make good music if 3 strings broke in the middle of a song. Similarly, I don't think anyone should set out to start raising a child with only half the "strings".
Sorry for the delay and the length of my response. I'm curious to see your reply.
You've already cleared the first hurdle. Being ready for and prepared to love a child for its sake, rather than other reasons (like saving your own relationship) is really the key. No matter what else stands in your way, it won't be much of barrier.
From a male point of view there is no doubt something similar happens to guys. Not all of us, but certainly it happened to me. And it's the best Goddamn thing to ever happen to me.
I have to go now. I've got a letter here from Sweden's Department of Immigration with a great big smiley face on it...
But have you found that as you get older, you realize that the decisions you made...were so naive in some ways?
Absolutely. On an annual basis. On each birthday I look back on the past year and I have yet to experience this without at least one major "What the fuck was I thinking?" in there somewhere.
Amynah, I shudder to think about how I will view my 20's when I am in my 30's. One of those "hindsight is 20/20" worries! :)
I know you mention in your post that what you did at the time, when you were 22, was for the right reasons. And I agree completely. But have you found that as you get older, you realize that the decisions you made, even in your early 20s, were so naive in some ways? I'm 27 now and to be quite frank, sometimes making profound decisions scare me because I worry about how I'll view them when I'm say...35.
As far as you and partner unit. It's amusing because I've made a deal with the person I'm involved in now and eventually plan to marry. If he dumps me for any reason, he needs to give me the sperm since he promised me a family someday. I know it seems silly but I'm not going to risk letting my need for children maybe color my settling for someone that is less than what I need just because of my biological clock. Make sure you have a contingency plan!
Jim dear-I deleted said comment without copying it (I am stupid!) I deleted it not because he insulted me, but he insulted my blog visitors. Not kosher with me. And I checked on the reversal thing, but the tubes? They's be obliterated...
Chris-I am actually thinking of fostering, too. I have no problems with adoption or fostering, more like an issue of when, where, with whom...And don't stress about "crawling out of my world"! Comments are welcome!
Miguel-what's the cool name? Please tell!
Solomon-Swedish citizenship gives me the right to work in any EU country, so no stress about visas.
But, Solomon...Why do I "gotta" get a husband? Fuck that. I can do all of this on my own.
Kids are cool, but first things first...gotta get a husband. You're very wise to understand having children won't aleviate marital problems. In fact, as joyful as they are, they're so high maintenance the first couple of years that they add a lot of stress to even a solid marriage. Even Angel1 and Angel2 were stressful at times
I've been curious for some time now, how will citizenship in Sweeden help with a job in England? I missed that posting if you ever explained it.
It is age related, the child thing. And boys get it too. Iīm looking forward to having my first, sometime in the near future. Name him after my grandfather, the Great Man. With luck he will look and be smart as the mother, tough... lol.
Thereīs talk here about organizing a public referendum, on abortion. I have made up my mind, and wish they didnīt go ahead with the thing. Weīre not ready for democracy yet, last referendum people decided to go to the beach instead, only me and some thousand others came to vote...
Love from here, Miguel.
Helen, my wife and I went through the whole fertilization clinic thing, or as I like to call it the jizzumnasium and it damn near ended in divorce. We started to build a family when I was 30 and she was 35. After nearly going bankrupt and near divorce, we decide to seek private adoption, but continued to be turned down because of rules like previous divorce, smokers, age...
We ended up deciding to foster/adopt special needs children from the state we live in. The approval process for this was long and drawn out and quite intrusive. When we finally were able to adopt 3 siblings I was 37 and my wife was 42. We now look back and know that we should have gone straight to the foster system and been done with it. We now have 4 adopted children and probably more in the future. The point of my looong note to you is, don't wait. Stick your toes in the water, see how it feels. Go talk to some social workers. Be a big sister. Lead a girl scout troop. There are thousands of children who want some nonthreatening adult attention. Now I will shut up and crawl back out of your world and you can tell me to kiss your ass.
If you feel like you would be a good parent, then why wait?
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Guys have a biological clock too, but we've got a snooze button on ours. ;-)
Seriously though, I do know a bit of how you feel as I was there myself during my previous relationship. There was an accidental pregnancy and for the first time in my life I was looking at being a daddy. I was terrified for a couple of days and then BAMMO I was thrilled. Totally and completely thrilled in every bone from toes to nose.
She wasn't and I couldn't convince her and ... well, she killed my baby. Yeah, I know - it was her body, her choice, whatever. Generally speaking I agree with that. In this particular case I don't give a fuck. It was my baby and she killed it. We didn't last too long after that.
But that feeling stayed with me. To this very day, in fact. Now I've got a Lovely Wife, 3 fantastic boys and more life than I can generally fit into 24 hours each day.
Helen, are you a candidate for a reversal on the tubal ligation? Depending on the procedure used for the original there can be a very good chance of a successful reversal.
And I've still got M&Ms, so don't fret too much on the citizenship. It's in the bag (to use a really bad pun).