Sunday, November 9, 2008

Rules of Engagement

During the two years after our wedding in which my husband and I discussed whether or not we were going to even try to have a baby, the rules of engagement were laid out. They were, for the most part, his rules, and I had no choice but to agree to them. Even with my agreement, I had no guarantee that he would ever be ready to do something I had taken for granted was part of our future.

The two rules not open for discussion were: no adoption and no heroic efforts. We both have our own personal history with adoption, mine oblique and positive, his personal and devastating. While I did want to have our child, I would not have been against the idea of adoption had he been willing. Since he was not, it was not on the table, and that was all there was to it. No heroic efforts meant no IVF. Period. Partly that was because of the cost and partly it was the line that we drew in the sand for how far we would go, and we were in agreement on this point. At the time I was blissfully ignorant of what was to transpire in the next three years, I had every intention of getting pregnant without medical intervention. After all, I was relatively young (I thought) at 38, and I had received an enthusiastic thumbs up from my doctor.

The fact that we were unsuccessful in having our own child and the fact that his son is now a part of our lives doesn't put adoption back on the table. There are times when I resent the fact that he does have a son, and a grandson; his legacy is guaranteed not only into the next generation, but indeed the one after that as well, so I cannot expect that he will understand how I feel.

I am not equating the idea of having a child with life-long happiness or even having someone to take care of me when I get old. My own mother is a prime example of how this is often not the case. Of her four children, one is dead, one has completely cut her out of his life, one has settled into a superficial and artificial truce and one tries valiantly to stay in contact without losing her sanity. She is in increasingly poor health, bitter and alone, and she will die that way.

My father started a second family after he divorced my mother and now, at 75, is saddled with a depressed and beligerent teenager who refuses to go to school, get his driver's license or do anything except play video games and entertain friends in his room.

I know that I look at having a family in a way that is both existential and hypothetical, and that isn't the day-to-day reality of the hard work, heartbreak and frustration of being a parent. With the bad comes a lot of good though, and I will miss out on a lot, I already have. We always want what we don't have, that's part of the human condition. I know that I will always be working on this, it isn't something you get over, but I hope at some point it won't hurt as much.


  1. Hi Donna, thanks for your comment on my blog. I've actually been lurking on yours for something like two years now, it's one of the very first blogs I stumbled on that reflected what I was going through myself, & the fact that you're also Canadian was a bonus! ; )

    I know that having kids isn't all like the storybook images. I certainly get told so by a lot of parents (why do they think this is news, or that it's going to make me feel better about being childless??). As you said, there is also good that goes with the bad, and the thing is, we never even got to try our own version of parenting out, and see how it would all wind up. :(

    Anyway, thanks for de-lurking, & I promise not to stay in the shadows any more either!

  2. Donna,
    You seemed to resolute about this decision when the time came. I was so impressed and possibly a little jealous.

    Now that you mention it as lingering, I realize that you're just normal. Our paths are different, but we face hurdles that sometimes don't quite go away.

    I wish you well.

  3. Hi Donna
    I haven't visited for a long time because I have been going through similar circumstances, agonising, insecurities and doubt and think I know some of what you have been going through. It has been inspiring to read your words, for their candid honesty.

    I just wish there was something that I could say that would miraculously make everything better, but there is nothing set in stone.

    At the end of the day you are normal so don't think that you are anything else but normal, just the circumstances that differ.

    I am going to be trying to keep up my blog AGAIN, have made a few efforts without much success, so this will be yet another, it is so good to hear from you again and I love your baby, I just got my first palomino baby and although I have another 15 horses she is what I have wanted all my life (color wise).

    Keep up with your positive direction and thoughts and enjoy her, I know that I am happiest when I am with my horses but it is just the getting out there to be with them that is hard, once I am there it is like the world has been lifted off my shoulders too.

    As for naming horses, their names will just come to you one day, mine took a few days and I ended up calling her CK Golden Sunrise, for a lot of different reasons which I won't bore you with LOL, so Diva will get her name, it will just come to you.

    Sorry if this sounds like a lot of rambling but like you I have found that writing stuff down does wonders for my mental state LOL.



  4. Thanks for clearing up the adoption idea. I was sure you explored that idea. I just want so badly for you to find your happiness.

  5. I just can't help but keep thinking there must be a way that you can fill this need and still stay within the terms of your "engagement" as you call it.

  6. Haven't you left out an important part of this story? (IUI)