Okay, it’s ironic that I wrote about some of my misgivings about having a child yesterday, only to have the decision come crashing more to the forefront today.
I went off birth control in my mid-20′s because I had a deep vein thrombosis (blood clot). There were probably several factors involved, but birth control was the big one. Given how irregular my periods were in my teens, prior to birth control, I was really surprised to find that they were like clockwork after a few months of my body adjusting – every 35 days, unless I was stressed, at which point I simply wouldn’t menstruate.
Over the last year, they have been less regular, but not far from the above. I assumed stress. But my last three periods have been exactly 29 days apart. The first month I was surprised. The second month, I was confused. This month, I was concerned. So, I did what every reasonable woman does – I researched this change online. It turns out that this is normal in women my age (mid-late 30′s) and means that my levels of estrogen and progesterone are reducing. It is one of the signs of perimenopause. Actual menopause takes from 2-8 years to occur after this process begins. (WTF kind of range is 2-8 years?) I had decided, for my health and the health of any potential offspring, that I would make a decision regarding whether I want a child in the next 2 years.
Last night – and most of the time- I’m leaning toward no. But having that choice taken away from me is terrifying. It was terrifying when I had the blood clot and realized that I would probably be on blood thinners the rest of my life (I’m not- but that’s another story). I pretty much immediately wanted a baby and a tattoo, since those options were closed to me.
I am not 26 years old anymore (ah, there’s the rub…), so the feeling that I need to have a baby now, now, now because an option is being closed off passes more quickly now. It’s nice to know that I am more open to doors closing than I used to be – because well, doors close and not being at peace with that makes for a hard life.
But I still haven’t really decided if I want to have a child (note that I always say “a child,” I am really confident that I don’t want multiple children). It’s a hard thing to realize that this choice may be made for me. I want to be the captain of my fate, and this smacks of giving up control. of course, women are faced with this all the time – many who desperately, certainly want children find that children are not an option for them.
i don’t think I will ever get certainty in this choice. Having a child is really the only choice (except suicide) that we make where changing our minds is not an option. There is no giving a child back. And perhaps the permanence of the decision has played a factor in my decision not to have one.
I suppose this reads like I only want a child because I fear my time to have this choice is slipping away, but it isn’t true. There are things about parenthood that excite me so much! I like children. I love being in a museum or at the zoo or even walking down the street and watching a child discover how wondrous our world is – it’s magical. It’s a gift to adults, bringing wonder back to something we have long since stopped seeing. I love their energy. I love holding babies and reading to my nieces and nephews. I love watching my teenaged relatives grow into adults. Don’t get me wrong – with three younger sisters, I am not a romantic about the work, exhaustion, and frustration that come with raising children. I have changed some truly gross diapers, cleaned some exorcist worthy vomit, and had some sleepless weeks.
And there are things I do not want. I love my career and every time i think of taking a break to have and raise a little person, I cringe. I love my relationship with James, and I do not want the stress that a child would bring to that. I also think there are many ways in which I would legitimately be a very bad parent. The resentment I mentioned in yesterday’s post, my need for space, my super-villain level ability to hold grudges, my wanting to be right, my perfectionism. I keep putting a period at the end of the list and then going back and adding more things – suffice it to say that that is not an exhaustive list.
Let’s face it, the decision to have a child cannot be distilled down to the kind of pro/con list I make when I want to buy a new car or some other “big” decision. I think that the truth is that I am not passionate enough about wanting to have a child to be a good parent. But it is hard, hard, hard to watch that choice be taken from me by nothing at except age.