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Unless otherwise noted, all recipes on this blog are free of gluten, peanuts, soy, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, shellfish, cane sugar, oranges, and yeast. Most recipes are also free of egg, dairy, and tree nuts (if used, reliable substitutions will be provided for these when possible). Check out my recipe index for a full list of recipes by category. 

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Thursday
Aug122010

fear, anxiety, and reproduction

I wrote this back in April and came across it in my drafts section today. I felt ready to share it.

for most of my early 20s, i never had much interest in the idea of having children. it was something that scared me. it seemed like too big a commitment. i just wasn't really all that driven to reproduce. i was okay with that.

then, around age 25, something shifted. i started to feel it. the urge. at first, it took me my surprise. then i got more comfortable with the idea, and decided firmly that  YES i want to have children, some day.  i want to be a mother. i want to show children of my own all the beauty the world has to offer. 

a year later, my health was in a downward spiral and my menstrual cycle stopped.  my life hasn't been the same since, and it is completely unlike that of most people i know.  many of my friends have found themselves in long-term relationships, and many have started planning for families of their own, or actually having children...on purpose.  yes, that's right; i am now in that age category when people plan to have babies, and don't just end up with them by accident.

one could say that i, too, engaged in a long-term relationship.  but mine? mine was with chronic illness. 

not exactly what i envisioned.

chronic illness is not a good partner.  you never know what mood it will be in, and you never know how it will respond. it does not make you breakfast on saturday mornings. it does not surprise you with flowers. it does not talk you down from a bad day at work, and it does not bring you tea when you're sick.  

 when the time is right, i will find love.  and when i do, i know that i want children some day. but this dream seems impossible. even if i wanted to right now, i couldn't get pregnant; my menstrual cycle is still depressingly absent.  all things willing, this will change. but even if it does, i'm not sure that i should have children. i know many women who didn't know they were sick with Lyme when they got pregnant. now they have chronically ill children.

  the medical community seems to be unclear on the possibility of congenital lyme, but these women know that their kids are sick for a reason.  these women didn't have a choice; they didn't know they had lyme, they didn't know their children would be sick too.

but me? i have a choice.

 if i know i could pass this to a fetus, it seems irresponsible to take that risk.  every time I watch that pregnant woman with lyme in Under our Skin, I cringe. I want to scream at her and say, "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING!!!!???"  I don't want to knowingly set my child up for a life of sickness.

i know this is jumping the gun.  i know there are many women with lyme who have had healthy children.  there are tests you can run, you can get breastmilk tested, you can take antibiotics to keep the fetus healthy, and it can be done, or so I've heard. and i'm not even in a position right now where having children is an option.  but these thoughts still make me wonder if i will ever have the opportunity.

this makes my unripe uterus - and my heart - literally ache with grief.  it makes me feel like i cannot fulfill my biological potential as a woman. it makes me sad that i may never feel the strong connection with a child that i do with my own mother.  i feel like i am letting down my familial bloodline. i fear that it will hinder someone's desire to have me as their wife.

i know that worrying about this stuff is unnecessary right now, and all I can do is focus on my healing. but it is real. i feel it and it hurts.  as someone that for years never really wanted children, i am shocked at how much this pains me and causes me anxiety. I have so much love to give, and I know that there are many children in need of love. But the innate desire to carry my own child is something that I just can't shake. 

In time, my body will tell me what the right choice is, and I will honor that choice, and encourage my heart to follow.

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Reader Comments (1)

Kim,

This is such a moving post-- thank you for your bravery in sharing it. I'm also a woman with Lyme-- and have struggled with a lot of the same worries and questions. I have one child, but was dx when she was a toddler. But my husband and I have been very hesitant to have another-- given that I've had ongoing health problems related to the Lyme. I had the same reaction to the woman in Under Our Skin. Ugh.

You sound like you'd be a wonderful mother-- with so much love and wisdom to share! And the very fact that you are struggling with these questions makes it clear that you would be a thoughtful, caring parent. I hope and pray that you will heal to a point where you feel ready to conceive. Like you said, there are ways to do it that greatly decrease the risk of infecting the fetus. If anyone could--given your amazing attention to health and well-being-- I'm quite sure you could do it!

As for the partner thing... you also sound like you'd be a wonderful partner with much to offer. The chronic illness has been a real focus in your life, it's true-- but it sounds like it has deepened your wisdom and strength and compassion (and skills in the kitchen!)-- all qualities that will make the right person, who I do hope you find, a very lucky person. It's hard for me to believe, given all your gifts, that you won't find that lucky soul!

And, of course, there is more than one way to become a mother. I do understand that deep desire to conceive-- and I'll also add that friends of mine who've adopted describe the same kind of bonding and love that I know from having a child from my own body. In the end, the family bloodline may not be as important as the family love line.

That said, I hope and pray that you will find healing and your dreams of mothering fulfilled-- just try to keep your heart open to the many different ways that could happen.

Many blessings and thanks for all the wonderful information you are sharing to help others heal, Lisa

August 14, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLisa R.
Sorry, no comments/questions allowed right now.
Hi reader! My schedule as full-time grad student with two part-time jobs doesn't allow me the time to manage comments. I hope you enjoy what you find and can figure out answers to any questions you may have. xo