Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I had a dream of a baby last night. Not sure if it was because I was thinking of babies or because I asked the universe to give me a sign.
I raised my brother and sister, then became a mom at 19. I have been taking care of kids my whole life. I always dreamed of having a house that was full of kids. We would all sleep in a great big bed and eat at a really long table. I would make stacks of pancakes on Sunday and platters of spaghetti for dinner. I imagined we would live on a boat and Christmas would be spent someplace snowy. We would have a big fire and kids in footie pajamas that tried to stay awake for Santa.
Steve and I started dating when I was 18 and he knew about this big family dream. He took it upon himself to fill me in on the realities of a big family, coming from one himself. There were six kids in his family. His mother was married to his father when she was 19, he was in his thirties. Steve is also older than I am.
I think he really thought he could talk me out of a big family, or any family for that matter. He was one of those kids who just didn't get enough of what he needed. His parents were both alcoholics and his mother had many issues around mental health. Both his parents died when he was young. Although I could see that the difficult times growing up for him were not due to having a big family but a big family that had more than it's share of struggles. Had he been an only child with the same two parents life would have still been difficult.
Steve wanted what his parents wanted but didn't know how to get. He wanted a great job, travel, adventures and freedom. He wanted to make art, write, act, and have a swanky apartment full of great stereo equipment. He wanted just enough of everything and not have to worry that that's all there would ever be.
I became pregnant by accident but I never questioned that it was what was suppose to happen. Steve reacted badly. I was determined and he figured out slowly that maternal instincts make Superman look like a wimp. We lived in a crappy one bedroom apartment, Steve was finishing school, I was taking my first college course.
From outside it seemed like we were doomed but I knew it would be OK.
I think all of his worries and doubts disappeared when he held Aly for the first time. He was madly in love with her and she with him. They are still very close.
When Aly was getting close to two I decided we needed to have another baby. Steve decided I was crazy. His argument was that we lived in a crappy one bedroom apartment. I did research on financing a first home and found a loan program that was perfect for us. Three months later we were in our first house and Stevie growing inside of me.
Steve was sure another child would ruin us but each child brought such happiness and good luck. He had a hard time seeing that. He had a harder time dealing with the attention the kids demanded of me and how I happily moved toward them and drifted from him. Our relationship changed drastically. I went from being a silly teenage girl who followed him where ever he wanted to go to a mom of two daughters who demanded we stay home and enjoy our babies. He wanted to be out and I wanted to be in.
I was young but I knew it was going to go fast, that we only had a small amount of time with them as babies. I stayed home with them instead of returning to work which gave us new financial worries. The pressure to provide and trade dreams for reality was hard on Steve. He still wanted all the things he did before but he is a responsible guy and knew he had a family to care for first.
We were so young.
I wanted those dream babies and we fought about it over and over. I never was able to convince him.
We would separate when Stevie was four. We couldn't agree on what was important. When I turned 27 I had a little bit of a melt down.
Two years later we reconciled, agreeing to put our family back together again. The baby argument began right away. Steve held strong for almost five years. In 1998 he got his dream job with the opportunity to travel all around the world. The kids were older so there was less demand on him to be home. He took the job and I had Noah.
It seemed perfect at the time. Then Stevie got sick.
Steve and I have always had an agreement. The house and kids were me. My job was to cook, clean, do laundry, shop, pay the bills, take care of the kids, school work, doctors appointments etc. His job was to work hard and take out the garbage.
I consider myself a feminist so part of me resented the traditional roles sometimes, especially when I didn't get enough sleep or had literally gone weeks without leaving the house. I hated asking him for help it made me feel like a failure. If I asked, and if he was available he would help.
I had dreams too. I thought I could do it all, and would do it all. It was much harder work than I thought. There were friends who had bigger houses, vacations and nannies. There were friends who had careers and parties. There were friends who wondered what the hell I did all day. I felt small sometimes. I missed the world outside.
At night when the girls were cuddled up in bed with me smelling like soap, milk and flowers I would feel like a shit for wanting anything more than that moment with them.
Although I had moments of self pity I also had moments of knowing that my turn would come. Maybe this was what I was meant to do and that could be enough. Being a parent is such hard work it is messy and heartbreaking but nothing, and I mean nothing feeds your soul like being a mother.
When Noah came...It was like he pulled us together. He is the glue in our family. I can not say enough how heaven-sent that boy is. Steve fought long and hard and he was sure that having a child would make our lives crumble...but he loves that boy with all his heart. We didn't crumble, Noah made us strong for what was to come.
Steve has now achieved all his dreams. He has jumped out of a plane, hang-glided, bungee jumped, swung from trapeze. He has traveled all around the world. He has a great job that pays him well. He owns a nice house. He has performed in theatres, has been in several independent films and is in a long-running commercial. His life is his, and he gets up every morning to play tennis (his favorite thing to do) has friends, watches football, eats meat (even though I would prefer us to be vegetarian) and sings with his friends and brothers.
I have been the person who has been behind the scenes, with the kids, creating a place for him to come home to. I am not perfect and I can be temperamental, moody and demanding. I am not the ideal wife, at times I am a terrible wife. If you asked Steve I think he would say that he wished I loved him better.
After Stevie died I stopped liking him. I think it was all too much and I could not handle his need and I resented his moving on so quickly. He is healthier than me in that way. He doesn't drag around old hurts and sad moments. He lets them go and moves onto the next. He has some kind of pain amnesia that I don't seem to have. It keeps him from getting stuck and being depressed.
I was learning to accept that three kids and the life we had was what the universe chose for me. It didn't mean that I gave up wanting a big family but I was getting older and Steve had a vasectomy so I didn't have a whole lot of choice. I could fill up that empty place in the nest with a career, maybe I would get to travel now or I could write a book.
I knew my family would not get bigger, but I didn't think it would get smaller. A dying child is never part of a life you dream for yourself, worse it is never what you dream for them.
Now I am trying hard to accept that this is my reality, what the universe has planned for me.
Now a baby is creeping in again. I admit I fantasize and pray that I can have Stevie back and that may be my main motivation. I have read that women who lose a child are usually pregnant inside a year. They are not trying to replace that child but the giant hole the loss of a child leaves is unbearable and a baby gives you hope and reason.
I try to explain to Steve that I am a woman like any other woman and this need is natural and normal. I am trying to honor it, I may not act on it but it deserves thinking about.
He is the same person he has always been and has the same arguments. He told me he would leave us if I tried to have a baby. He tells me that I am tired of parenting, burned out, that I need to move on. I think he is trying to punish me. He wants to be the person who gives me hope and reason and it hurts him that I am choosing a child that doesn't even exist over him.
I am not burned out, I am grieving the loss of a child. I am not the same me I was before because I feel broken. I still work hard. My heart, soul and body ache. I am trying to survive this.
There are ways to have a baby, even at my age, even without him. It wouldn't be responsible to do it perhaps but it would be even more wrong to let him try to frighten me. Every time I try to live the best life for me he threatens to leave. Maybe he should.
He loves me, the way he knows how to. He wishes that I would love him that same way but I don't. For me love is pure emotion, it is an environment, it is who and what we are in this moment. It is every second we have ever been. Love is pure and it needs and uncontaminated environment to grow. Love can't live where resentment, control, anger and fear does. Love is not sex, love is not need, love can not be demanded, or paid for. Love is not something you can talk yourself into.
For me I need love to feel passion, energy, peace, creativity, and strength.
Children understand it, they bring it with them and they teach it to us. Unconditional love heals like nothing else can.
I want a baby for some of the most important reasons and for some of all the wrong reasons. This decision should be mine, without fear, without guilt, without a price.
I feel like I am standing high on a mountain, at the very edge. I am all alone and there is something so important in this moment for me. It will take great faith to take the next step forward or back.