Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Baby Train Derailment

You will now all find out what all the drama around here has been about the last few days . . . for some of you this post will seem ridiculous . . . for others, you may be able to relate. Whatever the case, here's my story:

When my last baby was born, never in a million years did I think he'd be the last baby I'd ever conceive. In mine and Wayne's mind, there would be at least one more child added to our family, somewhere along the line. But six years and two months later, that option is no longer an option.

On Friday, August 17, 2007, Wayne underwent minor surgery in order to prevent any more procreation in our family unit. For the record, this was a mutual decision that he and I arrived at several months ago, but the emotional roller coaster I've been on since the reality of this set in has been anything but enjoyable.

Some of you may be able to relate, others not. Perhaps, for whatever reason, you too have grieved your decision to end the baby train. But I know of many couples who are emphatically "done" and for them, making a permanent decision in this area came easily, likely with a celebration to follow.

For us, the decision did not come easily; obviously, since it took us six years to finally decide what we were going to do about expanding our family or not. Many factors played into our decision, the biggest one being the tremendous amount of stress we were under as a result of my stepson's RAD diagnosis. (For those of you who have not had the opportunity to read about my life as the step mom of a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder, you can gain access to my private blog, My Life is RADical, by leaving me a comment after this post, expressing your interest. I will then set you up so that you can read my story.)

Due to my own personal level of stress, and the effect all of the stress was having on our already existing children, Wayne and I thought it best at the time not to proceed with more children, so long as things were as bad as they were. And I do believe that was the responsible thing to do. There have been many times that I have thought to myself over the years, perhaps we shouldn't have brought other children into the world at all, subjecting them to the home life they lived in while Thomas lived with us. But on the other hand, my two babies were the best thing for me at the time. They were my reason to keep on living, as there were many, many days where my spirit was wrought and I wanted to end my life. But knowing that I was responsible for my babies helped me press on.

Two years ago, Thomas moved out of our home and at that point we re-visited the baby train again. However, stress in our lives surrounding his issues did not vanish just because he didn't live with us anymore. On the contrary, a new form of stress evolved as we worked through our own grief and mourning as a result of his departure. It wasn't until a year after he was gone and we could be completely sure that he would not live in our home again, that we started discussing the baby thing again.

If we had proceeded a year ago with trying to conceive a child, he/she would now be just a few months old. But since that time of revisiting the topic, we were faced with the opportunity to relocate to a new town so that we could live closer to Wayne's workplace. The move took precedence, as we worked on renovations in our then current home to get it ready for sale, while working out the details of purchasing our acreage where we currently live.

As time moved on, the topic of another baby was always put on the "back burner" for my husband. But for me, it was always on my mind, all-consuming to the point of being ridiculous. I'd talk with Wayne about it, and he wasn't overly enthusiastic about the possibility of another child one day, and then the next day he was gung-ho to proceed. But we were both so unsettled. Really unsettled. And it didn't help matters at all that Mitchell and Tyrone were pestering us for another brother or sister. A sister is what they mostly asked for. But with Wayne already being responsible for bringing three boys into this world, I never gave them much hope that they'd ever get a sister, even if we did have another baby.

This brings me to another thing I've been grieving over, and that is the fact that I am not the mother to a daughter. Don't get me wrong. I love and adore my sons. When Mitchell emerged into the world, Wayne and I were both shocked to discover he was a boy. Our intuition was way off on that baby! But we were very pleased to have a healthy son. When Ty was born I was thrilled for Mitchell to have a baby brother so close in age to him. I was wishing for Ty to be a boy. In the back of my mind, another baby would still be born to us . . . a baby daughter.

Call me crazy, but I always imagined myself as the mother of girls, not boys. I don't know why. That's just what I dreamed of. But God, for whatever reason, did not make me the mommy of a little girl. But I do believe that one reason for that is because of the environment my children were forced to live in. Due to the nature of Thomas' RAD behaviors, my already extremely-heightened sense of fear for my babies would have doubled or tripled if we been given girls.

But there is still a part of me that secretly wishes I could have had a daughter. People tell me that I'll get my girls someday by way of daughter-in-laws or granddaughters, but that hasn't been very comforting to me right now. After all, doesn't it appear in most situations that daughters tend to gravitate towards their mothers as adults, and not their mother-in-laws? And what about my sons? What if their wives despise me so much (as many people do of their mother-in-laws), that they never call, write, visit, or whatever the case may be? I know my boys adore me now, but will they still in twenty years?

Last year when I went for my annual physical, my doctor and I discussed the possibility of my having another child. While she did not forbid me to have another one, she was concerned regarding the expediency at which I deliver babies . . . Mitchell: about 2 1/2 hours total labour and delivery time; Tyrone: less than one hour total labour and delivery time! Yeah, she had reason to be concerned. Another concern of hers was my age. At the time I was just turning 34 and she strongly advised against a baby after the age of 35. Fine. That gave Wayne and I one year to decide whether or not to proceed.

Well, this spring, as we had already settled into our new residence and quite enjoying the peace and seemingly stress-free world we now found ourselves in, we began the debate once again, over the possibility of another baby. Like I said earlier, it was an all-consuming thing for me. And it seemed that every Sunday in church, I'd either hear about another pregnancy or another baby announcement was made. My best friend informed me of her third pregnancy, and another good friend shared with me her intentions to try for her fourth child. And these two women are both older than me.

So, I began thinking about babies all the time. And how a baby would fit into our lives, six (plus) years later.
Because I was constantly thinking about this, I was almost being driven crazy. I knew that August 26th, my 35th birthday, was soon-approaching. It was do or die. But my husband wasn't on the same page as me, or at least a couple of lines off of the page I was on. While he could not commit 100% to a positive go-ahead on this, there was no way I was going to push it. I know how hard it is to parent when both parents are on board, so I wasn't going to risk failure and frustration if he wasn't in complete agreement with me about this decision.

That's when I began to pray. Of course, I had been praying all along, that God would somehow settle this. But one day in late April, I asked God to please, if another baby wasn't what the future held for us, then take away my desire, my strong desire, to have another baby. The other thing I needed help with was getting over the fact that I was daughter-less. So, I waited. I waited for God to give us direction in this matter, and to help Wayne and I come to an agreement on what the future would hold for our family.

Within a week's time, my desires were beginning to fade. I seriously considered all factors pertaining to another pregnancy and the affect that another child so many years later, would have on our entire family dynamic. God tested me in the area of trusting Him for what He knows is best for us. My biggest hurdle was getting over not having a daughter. I felt reassured by God that He chose me to be the mother of sons for a reason, and I would have to wait to find out the true benefits of only having sons. Once I was able to accept that fact, dealing with the realization that a baby was not likely in our future became easier to accept.

When I shared with Wayne that my desires for another child were waning, I think he was relieved. Not that either one of us would ever be disappointed if we found out we were expecting and hadn't planned it . . . we would both accept it as God's blessing. But I think his relief came in the form of knowing that I had finally derailed the baby train. There would be no more talk of this; no more obsessing; no more listing the pros and cons; no more mulling. Yes, he was relieved.

As the day of Wayne's surgery approached, I began to second-guess our decision. I asked Wayne the night before if he was still okay with what was about to happen, and he said "Yes." He asked me the same question back and I replied, "Don't ask. I'll never be okay with it. But I know deep down it's the responsible thing to do."

I do know deep down that we did the right thing. We're in a totally different place in our lives now, and I've been trying to seize this new-found freedom (in a way), but instead, the last few days have been a time of mourning for me. I've been grieving the "what could have been". I know it's not right to stay in this place emotionally forever. And I won't. In fact, today I finally feel like I'm finally doing better with this whole concept of family completeness, which is why I'm finally able to write about it. But I don't think there's anything wrong with spending some time emotionally, grieving and accepting what has happened. It's something I need to do, and I'm doing it. I'm working through this and look forward to the day when I can look back on this experience and maybe even laugh about it.

Last night Wayne and I had a really great talk about how I've been feeling, and it made me feel so much better to get it all out in the open. Not that he didn't know what was going on in my mind . . . he did. He could tell by the way I was acting. But it just felt good for me to tell him where I was at, post-surgery.

Yes, my baby train has been derailed. But I've got to embrace what I've got right in front of me and be the best mom I can to the boys I've been blessed with. I don't want to live a life of regret. And I won't. It's time to move on.


{Karla} said...

hugs hugs hugs, sweetie...

I don't think it ever would be an easy decision.

I know a lot of prayer and struggle went into this decision and it wasn't taken lightly.

Blessings and hugs,

Amy said...

Oh Dear Friend, my prayers are still with you. That was a hard decision to make.

I'm not trying to make you feel better, but I adore my MIL. I go to her for advice and we talk on the phone. And seriously all my friends also get along fabulously with their MIL's too. Maybe it has to do with the fact that we're all christians. As much as your boys love you I imagine they will find mates that feel the same way.

Thank you for sharing and know that I grieve with you and pray with you.

Love you, Amy

Becky said...

Oh I get this post. Times one hundred.

stacey said...

i second everyone above! thank you for sharing your heart. you likely speak the heart of so many. i think grieving is sooo appropriate. and me, at 37, is still struggling with my own answers of do it or don't. i will pray for you!

and my guess is, you WILL be a cool mil! i got lucky in that department.

Beba said...

Hard decision, i know, but i think that you have peace into your heart about it!

agsew627 said...

Hey, my husband had the same surgery on Aug. 16, 2007. He's in his forties and I'm 37. As much as I wanted a girl, God saw fit to give me three (the fourth is waiting for us in heaven) boys. I can't say I'm grieving about a girl, but I share your disappointment. Yet we know that "all things work together for good", so we'll see where this road takes us.