Sunday, November 2, 2008

Hourglass Figures

Last week I finally saw a new doctor for my annual exam. She was young and friendly and casual, answering "OK, cool" to almost every question. She listened to what I had to say and agreed to let me try the drugs I had done research on. We agreed that surgery didn't make sense at this point, since in most cases it doesn't do much for pain management, and encouraged me to keep her informed on how the drugs were working for me, and if I wasn't satisfied we would try something else. That was a nice surprise, a doctor who seemed to care about my well-being.

This was a regular OB/GYN office, and during my short stay in the waiting room a steady stream of women in various stages of pregnancy came and went. It has been a very long time since I've been around any pregnant women and I was not prepared for how this affected me. Every single one of them had that uncomfortable "can someone get this kid out of me" look about them, and I found myself thinking that I would change places with any of them in a heartbeat. Three years out from letting go of the dream of having a family, and the emotions are just as raw and close to the surface as ever, with the right catalyst.

The biological imperative to procreate is not so much a clock as an hourglass. Once you make that decision to (try to) become pregnant and turn it over, the hourglass becomes invisible, you know the sand is falling to the bottom and eventually you will run out of time, you just don't know how long you have or even when all the sand is gone and you are just spinning your wheels.

Looking at all those women made me feel like my entire reproductive system, a large part of my body, including my breasts, was never going to be used for its intended purpose. I felt like an expensive porcelain figurine: beautiful, coveted, admired, but by definition, useless.

I know that makes it sound like I don't like my body, but that's not true. My body looks better today than it ever has, I am toned and lean and strong. But my body will never stretch and grow and create sustenance like women before me have for millenia. I am what is known in genealogical terms as a "stub", a branch of the family tree that will never go any further. The women who don't have children are sometimes referred to as having "no issue". Ironic.

I've been thinking a lot lately about what my legacy will be, without children. What is my purpose in this life?


  1. Wow, you pegged that one. As a genealogist, I have so much trouble with the term, "no issue." It's as harsh as a miscarriage being called a spontaneous abortion. They're just words, but they have so much power.

    Hope your course of treatment goes well.

  2. I don't know how you feel about it...but is adoption out of the question? I am sure that has been suggested a million times. Just so many great kids out there...can you find your legacy in one of them?

  3. I wonder if there isn't a way you can work with children that might fill the void that you feel. There are so many, many children out there that need the love and encouragement of someone who cares. I know women who have built amazing families for themselves that filled the void you are talking about in a very fulfilling manner.