Tuesday, November 11, 2008

There is more to me than this...

I have been going over and having some serious conversations with myself with regards to my family planning choices lately and have discovered something that kinda makes me a bit uncomfortable with myself.

I have had and continue to have fertility issues. About a year and a half ago, my doctors found cysts on my ovaries that could create complications for the process of getting and staying pregnant. Due to lack of insurance, I have not had the opportunity to see a specialist and confirm a diagnosis of a specific hormonal disorder, but since I have just received coverage from my job, I should be able to get that taken care of.

I have also discovered recently that I am able to conceive, but nothing has stuck yet. I have miscarried twice in as many months and was surprised to find that I was not particularly torn up about it. Don't get me wrong, the spouse and I both want a family and chilluns eventually, but so far it doesn't seem to be in the cards without help.

Our niece Jackie was born July 11th, and we got to spend some time with her recently. That day made me feel like I wanted to get pregnant ASAP (that and my dear friend being ready to pop) while I was in the presence of the baby. However, as soon as we left to go home, I started having second thoughts, which led to an almost panic attack at the thought of a pregnancy and parenthood.

It hit me that I was very not ready. When I unpacked the feelings a bit more I realized that I was not ready because I did not want to be limited in my life choices because of a small and totally dependent person. I felt that I wanted to be more than a mother before adding that to the list of ways that I am identified. I felt like being a mother was...beneath me in some ways, like I want to contribute more to the world than just continuing my genetic material.

This is what makes me uncomfortable. I have many dear friends, both online and off who are parents and who still manage to do things with their lives and be parents as well as contributing to the world and society in other ways. I know it can be done, but internally, I feel that motherhood/parenthood is a step down from what I can be for the world. This is not to say that parenting is less than anything else in regards to changing the world, and that is the rub.

I have had the "women have the power of creation" used against me in abusive relationships as a way to put me in my "place," to let me know that they saw this as my only "real" power and as a way to make me feel like I was less valuable than my male partner. I have internalized this to such a degree that I don't feel that being a parent, for me, is a legitimate vocation. I know that this is bullshit, I really do, but I can't seem to get past it in making my own choices. And I feel that if I choose to have a child, I will be relegated to "just" a parent.

I am also terrified. I am terrified that I don't have the patience for children of my own, that I won't love them, that I will resent them, that the novelty will wear off quickly and I will hate the paradigm shift to this being my reality. I am also terrified that I will be defined by the world around me by my reproductive choices. Since I am female, I will be defined as mother first and person second by everyone else in the world, specifically by employers. I want a career, I need a career. The idea that I will be denied this option because of having or potentially having kids makes me so angry and so scared. Part of me wants to do what I have always done, which is do my damnedest to fly in the face of ridiculous assumptions and to challenge them simply by my very being. However, I have also internalized this so deeply, I'm not sure I am strong enough to do that. And it makes me so very angry to know that I live in a society that will judge me regardless of my choices, a society that has taught me that parenthood is worth less than other life paths.

And as a note, this is not intended to offend, in any way, anyone who has made and wishes to make the choice to parent and raise children. I know, intellectually, that this is a valid choice and that it does not lessen someone to make it. I just want to be able to make this choice for myself without all the socio-cultural baggage. Apparently, as a woman in the West, this is indeed too much to ask.

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