We’re a blended family having met each other when our kids were six, four and two. Just a few months after we became an official couple we started spending more and more time as a unit than a couple. The days that The Hubs had his daughter we spent at my apartment swimming in the pool, having meals at the table and watching all three kids sleep in their room.
I think The Hubs fell in love with his kids faster than he fell in love with me and by the time our one year anniversary was being celebrated we were moving into the very home we live in now, almost 11 years later.
The point is, we have always been a family. Ever since that first time we brought our kids together. The Hubs loves my kids with the same passion he loves his own flesh and blood, and I love my stepdaughter as if I carried her myself. (I actually despise the word “step” and simply refer to J as my daughter, because that’s who she is.)
We got married in the spring of 2010 and planned on trying for a baby the following fall but our plans were changed when the pelvic pain started to make its presence known. Within two years of the pain starting, we had reached a point where we had to decide if a pregnancy was a good decision. Would the pain get worse? Could it affect the pregnancy? What would life after the birth be like? Would I be in too much pain to enjoy a pregnancy and caring for the little one? What about our three existing children? Would they be denied my time and attention because of the pain increase after the baby was born?
Ultimately we decided not to have a baby and to move forward with the Hysterectomy: making our decision permanent. While it was 100% our choice, and we already had three beautiful children, there was something so magical about the idea of sharing that experience with each other. Now that we had this wonderful family, and all of this love we were romanced by the idea of adding a fourth member.
As you may have guessed I was a young mom, having my first child when I was 17; the very definition of young, dumb and in love. A few years later, engaged and living with my then fiancé we added to our family with my second child. Unfortunately, my fiancé was more in love with drugs than with his family so the engagement ended and I moved home.
The Hubs also missed out on the experience of watching his baby grow and come into the world. The late night feedings and the naps across Daddy’s chest. So the chance to finally experience all of that magic together was overwhelming. Even now, when I tell stories about the kids as babies I can see it on his face. How much he wishes he could have been there, how much he knows he missed.
After the Hysterectomy, I grieved. I grieved what I believed to be my womanhood (the ability to grow and give birth to a baby as well as the organ itself) and I grieved every baby I would never carry. I struggled to forgive myself for taking that opportunity away from my husband and my children. Because of me, they would never get to experience a baby sister or brother the way we had hoped we would.
As life moved on we felt more and more comfortable with our choice to not have a baby together. We love to travel, and we relish in the fact that our kids can all do their own laundry. My disease continues to progress and even after having my younger nieces or nephews visit I hurt for days. Verifying for us both that our decision to not have more children was the right one.
Our kids are 18, 16 and 14 now and we are loving them as young adults. Enjoying their self-reliance and our gradually increasing freedom from making sure they don’t blow up the house. We’ve taken them on amazing vacations that would have been miserable with a little one, but just perfect with our kids at their current ages (they pack their own suitcases and sleep in on the weekends!). It’s perfect and most of the time that’s how I see it.
But there are times that I find myself crushed under the weight of what could have been. I see commercials with babies smiling at me and my heart breaks. Friends share their joy on social media of their pink little monsters joining the world and while I am so happy for them, my heart breaks.
I have dreams that I can feel the baby kick in my belly and I wake up sure that I will look down and see the large swell under my nightshirt. It’s never there. I watch my husband when he’s holding a friend’s baby and I hate my body all over again for failing to provide this gift not just for me, but for him.
Sometimes it only lasts a moment, other times the heartbreak lasts for days, weeks if I’m not diligent about dealing with it. Even though I know we made the right decision I hate that we made it. I hate that we had to make it, and I hate that my disease would make me choose it again.
Grief is a fickle emotion in that it never really lets you go. It comes on in waves and then ebbs, sometimes to the point you think you’ve got it kicked, and then it swallows you up as if it’s brand new. And then just as it came on it slips away again, and I am grateful to not be chasing a toddler around trying to catch the puke before it stains the couch.