One of the things with which I really struggle, mostly quietly, is wanting desperately to have a baby. I mean, to bear a child. I love this life. I am so thankful daily to have been given all the opportunities and to have been able to see all the wonders I have seen so far, and each day adds new wonders to my hope chest. I find myself easily not bitter about most things. The one thing I find hard to embrace is never being able to bear a child. Of course, I want so desperately to be able to have that one thing I cannot have. And each day, I find ways to make it okay.
There isn’t much I wouldn’t do for these kids…they get me through a lot. So I find strength in all of them. All my families – the ones I was born into and the ones I found. I find strength in Teri’s arms*. I cradle Iago (those moments, at night, tucked in-between my two boys**, are so wonderful). Sometimes, I cry about it. More than just once in a while.
I also got used to the idea that it isn’t something people are going to understand. So many people – and I mean people who really, really love me – instantly, dismissively, remind me that I can adopt, that adopting is just the same. But it isn’t, really. Or worse, they tell me, of course, that isn’t possible***. Or worse yet, they tell me that I’m better off without kids. Maybe. I’m happy that there are people who find meaning in all kinds of things. And I’ve found so much meaning in so much. But I also feel that I am meant, amongst many other things, to be a mother. If being without a child is some kind of affluence, surely, I am meant to be poor.
A friend, who is a trans man, recently commented that he is sometimes accused of being selfish, because he bore a child before he transitioned. He responds, simply, that he wanted children, and he could do it, so he did. Childless women, and childless couples in general, are a political hot-button topic, too. People too easily make all kinds of incorrect inferences. So let’s just be clear. So many people who choose not to have children give back to society in so many ways. And some people who do choose to have children give little back to society, or sometimes even to their own kids. And not everyone (myself in particular) who is childless is childless by choice. I did not have the option that my friend did. To me, although I want desperately to have a child, I could not stand the thought of being a father to one – it is simply not a role I am meant to play. So, for me, the only real route to a child of my own blood was not something I wanted to pursue, and I don’t regret it, because I don’t think it was what was meant to be.
Then, one night, swathed in blankets and in the gentle sleeping noises Teri and Iago make****, I was up at night, crying. I do this, sometimes. Not a lot, but sometimes. Teri awoke, held me, comforted me, and wiped away my tears, asking me what was wrong. But this time, they weren’t very sad tears. I started to learn to see my plight in a different way. I have felt for some time – ever since I met him – that Teri is my Prince Charming. That our spirits were always looking for each other. They (we) knew each other instantly, after so much yearning, so much searching, and so much wandering in all the years we were apart. I am in turns very Christian in my sentimentality, and in turns very spiritual in a more general sense, but I believe unwaveringly that there is a deep structure to the universe, in which we are embedded, and that our lives have more meaning, more purpose, and more importance than just the interactions we have with the atoms in which we bathe. I guess I don’t really know if it’s true, but like Pi Patel in the Life of Pi, it colors the way I see the world, and to me, the world is far richer seen this way. So, to me, Teri’s spirit and mine were always meant to be together. We didn’t really have or need love at first sight, because our spirits loved each other long before we met – they were always made for loving each other. Loving Teri is not something I choose, but something I am. Teri was what I had always been looking for, even if I wouldn’t have known how to describe it, or known fully how to prepare myself to be ready for him, when he finally came.
I also recognized that I had little part in that moment when our spirits finally came together. Our meeting happened by chance. This is the story that’s in our StoryCorps recording, in my PFLAG speech, etc., etc., I guess, I can’t stop telling that story, and I probably never will. It was all chance strung from chance hanging from chance. I was always looking for Teri, but the most I can really claim for myself is that I was ready to jump into his arms when I finally found him.
What if this…is…the same? I had been grieving, all this time, and still struggle with, even now, my barrenness. But I found that Teri’s spirit was out there, and although it required years of faith and waiting, our spirits were always meant to be together, and now we are. What if the child I am supposed to mother is out there, too, in spirit? Maybe a spirit that hasn’t even been born yet. Or, maybe a spirit that is lost and alone, out there, desperately trying to find a way even now to us. It breaks my heart to think the spirit of my child is out there, struggling without us. That I cannot now comfort that pain or kiss away those tears. But a spirit that belongs with us, out there, seeking us out…. I know that my child is strong, and brave, born of the same courage from which Teri and I came. Like me, I don’t think my child is fearless, because I have been – am – so scared, so many times, but I know that my child has a spirit that perseveres, that is not stopped . Most of all, I know my child sees life as a gift, like we do, and that someday, when that moment comes, when our spirits can be together, just like I knew to leap to Teri with all my might, our child will know. And we’ll know, too.
And then, we’ll be together. And, much as I remember all the years before I found Teri, but they didn’t make sense – really make sense – until I met him, and he put them in context, I will understand why my path to motherhood has been so long and treacherous, and I will recognize that it was the perfect path, and the only path I am meant to follow.
* Teri supports me through this wonderfully. Recently, he’s talked more than once about wanting children, but I think we both recognize the depth of pain about this is something I really go through alone, inside myself.
** I’m crying, writing this blog. Teri made Iago move so he could hold me, but Iago went around Teri, got back up on the other couch, and climbed into my lap, so I have one arm typing from above him now, the other below.
*** Yes, I am quite cognizant of that fact, thank you.
**** Okay, they both snore sometimes, but at that moment, they were gentle.