As children we all imagine our life, and often wonder, in mystery, what will it turn out like. As a kid I was what they call an “old soul” with depth I didn’t even know I had. I was welcome everywhere, and had many friends, however, I never felt like I fit anywhere. Nothing felt quite right. Perhaps that was the reason why I wanted to grow up so badly. To be able to do whatever I wanted and find “my posse”. Growing up is all I ever dreamed of — I imagined my life as an adult, wondering how magical it will be.
But life does’t work like that. As kids we are affected and effected by adults and adult world around us. And for me, it was a massive war injury that changed the course of my life into something I never could have imagined. Don’t get me wrong, in a bizarre way, being blown up by a bomb, while watching my friends die, having over 100 surgeries, having my leg amputated without anesthesia, dealing with massive PTSD and trauma later, actually turned out to be a good thing. It allowed me to dig into depths of my “old soul” and use the tools I possessed, that otherwise, I wouldn’t have known even existed.
After the war injury, it took many years to put my life back together. To be able to walk and run. To live, mostly, pain free. No, it’s not really a “normal” life, because after a genocide, who can really be normal? But overall, pretty good. For the most part I tend to worry about same things that other people worry about….bills, eating right, working, working out, love, friends, family…..
In putting together this semblance of a life there have been a few things I really wanted to do. Not because society expected them of me, but because I just REALLY wanted them. I needed them to feel complete, and like I am living my true and best life.
For example running. After such horrific injury, running was a pipe dream for anyone that saw me. Even walking was far fetched. But I really wanted to do it. And 15 years later, after lots of failures and tries I ran for the first time. It was incredible to just feel normal and fulfilled. Or for example skipping…oh!!….to skip and feel the sweet taste of my childhood felt like out of this world experience. It was simple, yet incredible. It made me feel….normal. I also wanted to drive a car, which my mom opposed because she was worried that with my legs I wouldn’t be able to. But car meant freedom, and I had to feel free. So I learned how to drive with my beat up, barely functioning legs.
But one thing I wanted more than anything was a baby. I respect and support all women who don’t want to have children. I know a few. But for me, this was something special and so amazing. As a child, I didn’t dream about getting married and having a fancy wedding. Quite the opposite, to me there was always something strange about the idea that I would have to change/give up my last name — it always felt like I was giving up a core part of me. My identity — my last name. And while most girls dreamt about prince charming and their dream wedding, I dreamt about my own baby. I simply wanted to be a mom and raise a human being — a job that comes with the most responsibility, and least amount of training. I always felt that if I could be a mom I could be and do anything else.
I used to imagine this blond baby, with blue eyes like mine, smiling at me. In secret, I even bought one onesie that was so adorable that I just couldn’t resist (even though it’s bad luck). I would picture myself taking the baby for a walk in a stroller, playing with her in a crib as she smiled at me, watching her little hands grab mine. I dreamt about her first words, and steps. I imagined that first hug from her as she was running into my arms. I felt it in my heart and soul. I thought about school and hard times too. How would she grow up in this world. Who would her friends be? What about high school? I lived a life with her in my mind….waiting for her to, one day, be real.
Needless to say, war and my injury changed the course of that. And something that could have and should have been simple turned into a 16 year process of IVF treatments and constant disappointments. The amount of ovulation tracking, getting the timing right, both physically and emotionally painful doctor visits, mystery of why is it not working, to heavy cancer treatment drugs that left me suicidal, relentless negative pregnancy tests, surrogate and surrogacy contracts and attorneys, and thousands of dollars wasted…..nothing. Still nothing.
This year, as I hit 45 years old, I finally had to let the dream of having a baby go. Perhaps it’s the exhaustion from consistently trying for 16 years. Perhaps my age is kicking in and I am realizing I am just too old for this….I don’t know. But one thing I do know is that in my head and in my heart I had to lose this baby. I had to let her go. No, she isn’t real to anyone except to me. She has been with me since I was a kid. She has grown up with me and I’ve had conversations with her. She felt real only to me. But now, I’ve had to let her go. Focus my energy on something else. Something real.
My birthday was in May, it’s now almost December and I have been secretly grieving a loss of a child I never had. No one to tell to. No one that would understand. Not sure if it would even sound acceptable to society — especially after so many mass shootings where real children are killed. But nonetheless, my heart still aces with loss and grief.
And so I wanted to write this to all of those “wanna be parents” who have tried and given up or are thinking about giving up after a long battle — I see you. I feel you. I feel your pain. Your sadness. Your frustration. Your grief. I wanna say to you the same thing I tell myself: We tried. We were meant for something different. Maybe in another way, in another time. Right now, embrace the love, embrace the grief. Feel it. Sit with it. And then, gently release it.
(Baby in the photo is not mine. It's actually a stranger's baby I saw once in a grocery store. But I love babies so I had to hold him.)
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