Wednesday, June 8, 2011

When Parenthood Is not an Option

I am a 36 year old disabled woman who has been variously labeled "fat", "crazy", and "a hippie weirdo." I now try to embrace labels that others use in an attempt to "shame" me into being someone more "acceptable". I am passionate about issues of race/racism, criminal (in)justice, fat acceptance, and mental health advocacy. I blog at My Name Is JuJuBe and I am on the team at The Intersection of Madness and Reality

I always knew I was going to be a mother. I was going to have six children, and be an at home mother. I was going to home school my kids, take them to play in the park, and on all sorts of day trips: the aquarium, the zoo, the amusement park. I had names chosen for my children. I thought about how I was going to dress my kids, decorate their rooms, equip the backyard and play area. From when I was about eleven years old, I knew I was going to be a mother.

And, now, at 37 I have almost given up on the idea.

I started actively trying to become pregnant at nineteen years old. I was not worried about finding the perfect man to settle down with, I had no problem with being a single mother. I knew that I would have plenty of positive influences in the lives of my children, and that I would be a great mom. Despite the fact that I had been diagnosed with a “mental illness” (I no longer believe in labels when it comes to mental health, hence the quotes), I knew that I would be a parent. And I would do anything for my children and provide them with everything they needed, despite financial circumstances that were not optimal.

By the time I was 25 and met a man I ended up being with for four years, I was desperate to become pregnant. I still wanted those six children, and figured I needed  to get started soon. I ran around asking people how old they were when they had their first child, thinking that I was really falling far behind the schedule I needed to maintain to achieve my desired large family.

For four years, my ex and I tried to conceive, but failed, largely due to PCOS (poly cystic ovarian syndrome). I thought if I could just lose some weight and get my blood sugar under control, I would have a regular cycle and become pregnant.

Never happened. I would lose a little weight, get on a regular cycle, then get depressed when I did not become pregnant and start uncontrollably eating again. And sabotage my efforts to have a child.

I started hating pregnant women. Especially teens. It seemed so unfair to me that someone so young, someone who seemed so unprepared for motherhood (yes, an unfair judgement perhaps, but when it comes to my desire to have a child, I am not always the nicest person). Could you imagine how hard it hit me when my ex, two years after he and I broke up, announced that he was having a child??

I literally cry when I go to the gynecologist office because it is filled with pregnant women. When I used to go to family events, I would often leave in tears because I was so frustrated when I saw all of the mothers with their children. Anytime I go to a public event where there are a lot of kids, it is extremely difficult to maintain the facade of happiness.

My ex tells me I should go to a fertility doctor. I refuse to, because I am terrified I will be told that I can never have a child, and that would be a devastating blow. Plus, the government believes that women who are not at least “middle class” do not deserve to have children, so they will cover birth control but not fertility treatments.

My father gets angry every time I talk about wanting a child. He thinks I need to have a higher income to have a child. I believe that love matters more than income, and if millions of mothers can get by on less money than I have, I can do it as well.

I am a bitch when it comes to babies. I will not go to baby showers. I will not congratulate an expectant mother.  I bitch and moan about how “I would be a better mother” than other women I come across. I know it is foul and I know it is wrong. But the truth is, I am intensely jealous. And jealousy can turn me into a monster.

I still ask women how old they are when they became mothers. I desperately seek out stories of women who bore children in the 40s. I keep wishing and hoping. I keep believing that one day I will be a mother. It is what helps me go on. I no longer believe I will have those six children I always wanted. I am at the point where I would be OK with one. If I was able I would adopt, but there are too many barriers in place for that.

I would even be willing to be a foster mother, but since I live in a one bedroom apartment, I do not think I would be approved. I even gravitate towards men who have custody of their children, thinking I can spend time with them.

Neither of my sisters want kids. They think I am ridiculous for wanting to be a mother. But believing that I will be a mother one day.... that is what sustains me. And I will never give up my ultimate dream......