Take A Look Into My Baby Blues

This isn't my usual blog style, and I hope you forgive the departure. For once, I would actually like to use this darn thing as a "journal" like some other bloggers do. You see, I have a problem. Ok I have many, laugh it up. I have this giant heart, but a big void empty place situated someplace lower. My attempts to fill the void are always so temporary, it's like a drug. You feel great doing it, then later you are only reminded of the things you don't have, the loss you are trying to make up for.

I go through this every couple of years, I get this pang, this sadness and urgency. This need for babies. As I have gotten older, it's gotten better, but it has not gone away. When I got sick, it got easier to think about the fact that I could never have another baby. I mean really, why would someone my age and with my physical limitations want to chase a kid around? Then I had the ablation, now conceiving is impossible. So you would think that with carrying a child being as risky as it gets, not wanting to be a full time mom, and knowing I can't conceive that I would move on right? HA! You don't know me very well then do you?

When I was growing up, I would watch shows like "The Brady Bunch", and "Eight is Enough". These television shows, if you are not familiar, are about giant families. Through the blending of families, I have five sisters and a brother. I never gave thought about how many kids I would have when I was a kid. I just figured I would have a few.

My first pregnancy happened six months after I was married. I was 22 years old, and I was beside myself with excitement. 

I read all of the books. I watched videos. I signed up for the birthing classes, found the very best doctor I could find. My next door neighbor was an OB/GYN nurse. She became my best friend. (Poor thing)

Sadly, in spite of all the textbooks, my pregnancy was not textbook. Things went wrong and things were miserable. I have some great memories of my pregnancy however. I remember seeing an entire foot pressed against my belly. I remember seeing that litle creature in the ultrasound that looked like a tiny fish. We started calling her "The Salmon". Of course, we did not know she was a she at that time.

I was the most enormous pregnant woman I had ever known. I gained 175 lbs. (I know right?) The child inside of me seemed to always be moving. I read to the baby, talked to the baby. I played music through my Walkman (remember those?), and I was a full time student. If there was such thing as in womb learning, this kid was getting it. And, I was taking notes. I was writing things down about how the life inside of me responded to different things that I did. I wanted to remember it for next time.

Next time.

I didn't know there wasn't going to be a next time.

It was just after 1AM on October 3, 1992. I had been in labor for 32 hours. Actually, as it turned out I had been in labor for several days, but when they decided to use a very long needle to inject my cervix with a softener, and hook me up to a Pitocin drip, that is when the "fun" started. If you have had induced labor, imagine 32 hours on pitocin. Well holy shit is all I have to tell you. When my water broke, it made a popping sound that was so loud it woke my husband from a sound sleep on the recliner next to my bed. It was at this point we discovered the meconium, and finally I was granted the C-Section that I should have been given a good 20 hours earlier.

I was prepped for surgery as Rhinestone Cowboy bellowed from the speakers in the surgical suite. That's not something you forget. It's also something I tell Kelsey everytime the song comes on the radio or on TV. And, in what seemed like half no time, they were taking from my belly my 11 pound 1 oz baby girl. The first and only live birth I will experience. The most precious gift I have ever been given.

What followed was years of, on one hand the joy of raising an amazing child. A truly brilliant kid. She is like none other. On the other hand, me getting cervical cancer a year later, and losing a big part of my cervix but nothing else to the disease. I, to this day am not sure why they did not give me a hysterectomy. All they told me was that my cervix would be weak. That was the understatement of a lifetime. I remember the ER doc saying to me after several miscarriages at varying stages, "You have to stop doing this to yourself, you are going to drive yourself mad, and you are doing your body no good."

You see, I really didn't know. Either because the doctor assumed I understood, or assumed I'd not be able to conceive, he never out and out told me NOT to get pregnant. The assumption he made about a then, 24 year old "girl" was either too much or too little. There was just no communication. Yes, perhaps I was stupid. I was not the Jules then that I am now. I didn't ask the questions I should have, I did not have the capability to research things that I can now. And, yes perhaps, I was blind to truth because I wanted babies. I had decided at some point I wanted a lot of babies.

I started adopting pets for each miscarriage I had. I was broke, living with my kid in an 800 square foot apartment, and stuck with a couple of dogs, a pair of cats, two very loud birds, a rodent of some sort and some gold fish. 

Fast forward to a more financially stable, well informed, mature Jules. God do I still want babies. I get around the little ones and I lose my mind. I know I am not the only chronically awesome person out there that has not been able to have more, or even any children. Some have adopted, but now at 42 years old, with my child in college, do I really want to start again? Once Kelsey was in high school, I started letting our house be the place the kids could hang out. Suddenly I was "Mama Jules". I didn't let the kids do bad things. There was no drinking or any of that. I just loved cooking for them, watching TV with them, hanging out. I liked it when they came to me for advice, when they called me "Mama" and when they greeted me with big hugs.

When one of the kids would try to take advantage of the cool environment here at Mama Jules' house, the other kids would self police. They respected me and they did not want to one bad apple to ruin it for them. We were like a family. I was happy. Then everyone went off to college. It got so quiet around here. My grocery bill went way down too. I started feeling a bit empty again. My husband got me a second dog. That helped. 

Enter: Friends with little kids!

I have a couple of single dad friends with cute little kids. If I had my way, I would cook dinner for those guys and their kids every night. It's great. I get to play with the kids, if they get too out of hand, the dad's handle them. I get to do the fun stuff. It's kind of like being a grandma. Plus the little kids wear the dogs out. WIN!

The problem is, that I know at some point the hole is going to come back. I can't keep stealing people's kids. I have an emptiness in me. It can be filled a bit on the web helping people, I can spend time with other people's kids, and my dogs, but I need to figure out why I feel so empty. I thought that by writing about it today I would uncover it. Instead, I feel like I have just told you a story, nothing more.

Where does a person like me grieve? I don't have a specific loss, I have many many smaller losses. The biggest loss to me, as I see it, was control of that one part of my body I always thought I would have control over. My ability to reproduce. My ablitly to make babies, to bring them up in the world giggling in my arms. I feel like so much was stolen from me, and it's like the theiif came in the night and took something and I had to bump around blind in the dark for years until I finally realized exactly what was missing. 

Now, bruised and sad, I finally know that I have to just move on, push forward, perhaps be ready to be Grandma Jules one day. So this will pass, like it always does. I won't adopt another animal, I will power through because I am awesome that way, then it will bubble like thick lava in the back of my mind. Will it erupt again? Or just churn a bit? Can you just let things like this go? I really don't want to go BACK to therapy. I am tired, and therapy is exhausting. Give a tired person a pillow, not a sleeping pill.

I need a pillow.

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Jules Shapiro
www.whatthejules.com

As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others. 

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