The Childless Limbo

Among the many topics that were discussed at the Diabetes UnConference, womanhood was one of the ones that really resonated with me, for many reasons. But when you’re given the option to discuss diabetes and menopause vs. diabetes and getting pregnant, and you’re in neither of those groups, what do you do? You just sit and listen, in limbo…. with not much to contribute. At first I was OK because I have made peace with my barren womb; then I realized holy shit, I’m not alone and I have to talk about this.

I got married the first time when I was 24 and I thought it was going to be your regular agenda: marry, have kids, live happily ever after. Kids didn’t happen, it didn’t matter how much I wanted them. Then my endocrine system waged war against me and I spent, oh, so many sleepless nights figuring out a way to fulfill my motherhood dreams. I had a very well organized set of bookmarks that ranged from things I could do to get pregnant, fertility forums, and lastly adoption. None of it materialized, then the marriage was over, and I was kind of grateful there wasn’t any collateral, if you know what I mean.

The second time I got married, I already knew what my endocrine baggage was, and while getting pregnant was still a dream, it wasn’t my top priority, or at least I knew it was going to be hard work. I had my days when I got emotional about the fact that people around me were reproducing and I wanted to have a child so badly without success. Some other times I gave myself the pep talk, or I simply listened to what other people had to say.

Then one day my ex-husband and I decided to give fertility treatment a try, but we only got to phase one, the Clomid one, the one where you cry because the store doesn’t carry your flavor of ice cream, and stopped because a new job, new insurance, etc. Adoption was discussed briefly, but no real action was taken. That marriage failed, too. And some of the last words I heard was that not getting pregnant was all my fault for not doing what I was supposed to. After all, I knew what to do… so what the heck was my problem? In the end I was just glad that, once again, there was no collateral.

Fast forward a few years. Call me a repeat offender, I’m getting married for the third and LAST time in May. The guilt I carry for not having a properly functioning reproductive system is out of this world. Here I am, with the man I believe would make the best father for my children, and I don’t think it’s ever going to happen. People tell me never say never, but let’s call things by their name: I just turned 40 and I have type 2 diabetes. What kind of pregnancy would that be? What would happen to that child? It’s freaking scary. And he understands, my fiance does… and when he says he doesn’t care, I truly, really believe him. But we’re awesome people, fantastic people… without children? That’s just plains sucks.

So rewind to last weekend in Las Vegas, sitting in a room with a bunch of women, most of them in their reproductive age, and feeling that you’re not here or there, and you look at yourself, curse your diabetes and think this shit is hard. And what makes it harder is the fact that you bottle it up and let it fester and rot for years. You learn to dismiss it, you learn to tolerate it and it steals a little bit of your spirit every single day while you try to play the fool.

But then you find your kindred spirits… because whether you like or not, we have this diabetes thing in common, and we know what it feels like; insulin resistance, PCOS, all the ingredients in that beautiful cocktail some doctors call metabolic syndrome. And you don’t really want to whine about it, but dang it… sometimes you just have to whine about it. Because you know what? It’s not your fault, it’s not that you’re not trying hard enough… you were just dealt a crappy hand, and you need someone you can relate to.

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One thought on “The Childless Limbo

  1. Bea, I get it. Well, most if it anyway. We decided to wait to have kids until we felt we could afford it (like you can ever really afford children). Then we woke up one day, realized, hey, we’re in our late thirties/early forties, should we really do this? The answer then was no. But I always wanted kids, and it’s such a disappointment to me that we won’t have any.

    But… we concentrated on helping our siblings with kids (there are many), and some let us help, while others avoid us. The ones who avoid us? I figure that’s not our problem. The ones who let us help? Well, we’ve had both a niece and nephew living with us over the past 12 years, and both are doing great. My nephew now has a wife and child of his own, and another on the way. I’m so proud of both of them. It’s not exactly the same, but it’s close.

    I guess what I really wanted to say is that while I can’t completely understand how you feel, I sort of understand. The disappointment is real. But you are not less of a person, ever, because of this. Whatever happens from this point forward, you are the best you can be, and your family is already bigger than the two of you. I support you no matter what.

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