I can’t have children. With that simple statement comes images of an infant’s downy checks under soft hazel eyes wrapped up in a blanket, a toddler racing up to me wanting her mommy to see what she’s found. There are many different children I see with different combinations of my traits and those of my husband. In my mind I hold these mourned children and they smile at me and I feel our connection – that great mystery of blood and spirit shared between woman and child.
I am grieving for an opportunity lost. I know though it is the fantasy I mourn for. The fantasy of the perfect child and the idea that I could be the perfect parent. I’ve seen my sister struggle with her three children. She has warm moments of love with them but the reality is the kids fight with each other, break things, get food all over the house, get mad at her and things are just as messy as life. We’ve thought about adoption and even attended a couple of foster care classes. But as our mental disabilities increased we were sure in reality we wouldn’t be able to dedicate enough support to a child.
This story of me being barren also goes along with my religion. It has drawn me to Gaia, the earth mother, since she is the creatrix, she can do what I am unable to do – produce life. It’s also connected to my initiate name. My motherly qualities are more in the realm of nurturing my niece and nephews.
It was in the early ’00s when I suspected I wouldn’t have children. My menstrual cycle had always been irregular and I never felt well. Mike and I visited a Pagan couple in Feyetteville, Arkansas. They had designed an element board. It was meant to help people communicate with elemental spirits and their guides rather than the more random spirits that seem to be attracted to the ouija board. For my reading the elements of water and earth spoke telling me I would be a mother. I was thrilled since Mike and I were trying to have a baby but the message was clarified to mean more of a mother to all. The spirits also said my magic name was to be Masery. I said the name but the planchette kept going back to the “a” and we started to think it was stuck. It wasn’t until years later at a protest that someone pointed out the spelling of my name means it should be pronounced mAsery instead of m ah sery. But I was used to the wrong pronunciation so I haven’t changed it.
That same year an observant female OBGYN sent a blood sample to a geneticist in St. Louis. When I walked into the fancy doctors office for the results the two gentleman behind the desk looked at each other nervously. There was a box of tissues all ready placed where I was seated. I started to choke knowing there was bad news. I found out I had Turner’s Mosaic. They were sure that all of my eggs had been released prematurely which was why my periods were sporadic and light. Mike held me as I sobbed. He was stunned, holding me while we both shook with sadness.I was in shock for months. Food didn’t taste good but I ate it, and ate it, and ate it until I was full then I stuffed myself some more. All I did was lay on the couch and watch soap operas. Though I still get depressed and cry over my lost children, I haven’t been back to such a gray numb place as I was then. At one point I told Mike I would understand if he wanted to divorce me so he could find a women who could give him children. He held me and with such a loving deep look told me I was his wife and he would love me forever no matter what. He couldn’t leave me. As much as the situation hurt it made our relationship that much stronger.
When people ask if I have children, I handle it better some days then others. Often I say no and immediately start a new topic. Or I say no I can’t and smile as if I’m not hurt so they will smile too and not give a nervous pitying glance. One day at work I had enough of a temp worker going on and on about how many children she wanted. Honestly she meant no harm and didn’t know my situation but I had become angry. So when she asked me if I had kids and I said no and she asked why not I said, “My ovaries are not up for discussion.” Another co-worker almost chocked on her food trying not to laugh. The other woman didn’t know what to say and changed the subject.
There are some benefits to not having children. Currently my sister is in her third trimester with her fourth child and my friend is in her first with her first child. In the moments when they tell me about the never ending nausea, hip pain, and constantly running to the bathroom I’m glad I can’t get pregnant. Plus my spouse and I don’t have to use protection and for us that feels so smooth. My husband and I also enjoy more spontaneity within the house *wink* and when we get the urge to take a drive or a walk we can just go without finding a babysitter or packing a diaper bag.
I’ve since become a mother type figure to many children. I am a substitute teacher, I volunteer for story time at the local library, and I watch my niece and nephews. Their smiles and voices make me smile. It’s those little moments that make life worth living.