Why I Do What I Do
When I sit at my desk I often look to my left and see a photograph of my father holding my daughter in a big bear hug. The same big bear hug he used to always give me until he died several years ago. That was a hug that told me that I was loved and all was right with the world. That was the love of a parent for a child and that was a feeling I wanted to repeat over and over again in my life.
I always thought I would have children someday but after a failed first marriage when I met my current husband, Terry, I agreed that we would not have children. I cried when Terry told me he didn't want kids. I was shocked because he always seemed to love kids. But kids are a huge responsibility and he wasn't sure he was up for it. I know this is a very different issue from infertility and I would never presume to think I can relate to that experience in the same way. I thought at first that I would rather have a good marriage even if it meant not having children. My older sister and her husband had made that same decision when they married so I had a comrade. What did we know we were in our twenties? It was the 80's, the "me" generation.
After being married for a few years I received a call from my sister/comrade telling me that she was pregnant. I had the most awful reaction...I started to sob with the realization that I desperately wanted children too. It had broken through my thin veneer of indifference. That night when I picked up my husband at the train station I could barely get the words out of my mouth to tell him that my sister was pregnant for the sobs that were racking my body. Needless to say he was a bit taken aback by my reaction, and no things did not change over night.
We went on for three more years of my falling into deep moments of depression, wanting to have a child and wondering what it would take to change Terry's mind on the subject. He was not totally cold and unfeeling but it had not been part of his plan and by now he was in graduate school and timing was not right. I had read far to much over the years regarding fertility, biological clock etc. I was sure time would run out and I would lose my opportunity to ever have children.
On my 29th birthday I cried off and on all day when I realized that my mother had me at 29 and I was the last of her kids and people thought she was old when I was born. I had not even gotten my husband to consider having children and I was almost over the hill. Obviously my frame of reference for old was based on a 1950's time table but that's all I had to work with at the time. In the second year of my husbands MBA program at Harvard Business School 20% of my friends who's husbands were in this program were pregnant. They considered this perfect timing since graduation was just around the corner. I thought so too but it takes two to have a baby and my husband and I were not on the same page. It didn't help that we were also older than most of the other grad students, they were in their twenties we were in our thirties.
After graduation we decide that the fall would be a good time to start trying to get pregnant. One day I was out running with a friend and I got terrible pain in my chest. I went for a scan and a shadowy area was found on my lung. While they thought it was probably not lymphoma, they needed to biopsy to be sure. So just when I had gotten my husband to agree to start a family I was faced with the possibility of cancer which, when treated, would cause sterility. I was devastated. Oddly enough I was more devastated by the idea that I might become sterile than that I might have cancer. In my case it turned out to be benign.
About a year later I went on to give birth to our son and a few years after that our daughter. Both, thank God, were and are healthy kids. My husband has been an amazing father and is very close to both of our kids. My children are the best thing to ever happen to me. I have loved being a mother far more than anyone could have ever imagined. That big bear hug I used to get from my dad is now a daily occurrence with both of my kids many times a day, as I tell them how much I love them.
That is why I do what I do I do - for the love of children. It's for every person who has ever longed to be a parent but had obstacle after obstacle placed in their path. As it turned out, mine were easily surmountable, but I didn't know that at the time. And just like any human when kept from the hearts desire, it broke my heart to see other people with babies or pregnant. That is why I try to make the path a little straighter and a little easier for the countless people who are on their journey to parenthood.