Thursday, November 14, 2013

Not-so-happy birthday beginnings

According to the English calendar I have been thirty years old for one hour and eight minutes (well, technically I was born at 14:24 so I suppose there's still a bit of my twenties left), and by the Hebrew calendar, 9 Kislev passed a few days ago.  Thirty!  A new decade, hopefully filled with exciting changes.

Except I'm not excited, even by the thought of birthday cake.  And I have a sweet tooth that should be in a dental museum.

Someone I love very very much is suffering from a serious alcohol problem which has worsened dramatically in the past couple months.  This person is one of the most wonderful people in know: generous, loving, creative, and always putting other people first.  And this person has no insight into the problem alcohol is causing.  And the rest of the family is concerned enough that they are talking about organizing an intervention and inpatient rehabilitation.

I love this person so much!  He or she (I'm trying to respect this person's privacy) is not a bad person, but is suffering from an addiction which has led to lack of insight and poor decisions.   If anything happens to him or her, I don't know what I would do.  And as a physician, I'm scared to death because I have seen end-stage alcoholism, and I could not bear to see my loved one in that place.

I hope there is a chance for recovery.  This person is a strong individual and has been through a lot but always come out resilient, and this person wants to be healthy to be there for our Little One.  That's a pretty strong bit of motivation.  I wish somebody could give me a hug and make me a glass of tea with sugar and lemon and tell me everything will be okay.  But I know it doesn't work like that, and even if someone is motivated to quit, it's a lifelong uphill battle.

So I have spent the first hour of my thirties trying not to cry too much, because it makes it hard to read about dizziness and Meniere's diease -- oh, yes, I also have the pleasure of starting my birthday working overnight at the local VA hospital -- and trying to self-sooth with Chopin.

At least there will be Shabbat dinner tomorrow night (today now, I guess) and my brother has ordered a delicious lemon-white chocolate cheesecake torte in which to drown my sorrows. (The meal will be dairy.)

Monday, November 11, 2013

..And yes, things are going ok, thank God.

Surrogate is twenty-nine weeks today.  She and Little One are doing well, thank God.  But I won't truly  exhale until the proverbial fat lady sings.

A stand up routine that does NOT make me laugh.

A college acquaintance recently shared to Facebook a stand-up routine entitled "People with no kids don't know." I consider myself possessing a reasonable, if somewhat dry, sense of humor. But this particular routine did not tickle my funny bone.

 The premise of the routine was that couples without children don't have a clue how much more difficult everything is with children, and how these couples are living a carefree life of ease because they haven't any responsibilities outside themselves.

I nearly vomited.

 Many people come from large families and raise their younger siblings. I was changing diapers at ten, driving carpools and reading bedtime stories in high school, and was entrusted for an evening with a nine-day-old baby at eighteen. We may not be the true parents, but we witness the demands of parenting and we do our share of helping out.

Many people care for elderly parents or grandparents. And let me tell you, a fully-dependent adult is a lot more difficult. Have you changed a diaper on someone who weighs two hundred pounds? Or tried to dress him/her? I have only the minimal experience of caring for geriatric patients in the hospital, and even from that small bit of experience I see how difficult it is caring for ill adults.

Other people are not carefree because they take on tremendous work responsibilities, or volunteer, or fill their lives in other ways. I can understand the argument that it isn't the same of having children, but it doesn't mean one doesn't have true commitments.

But mostly -- what infuriated me was this: a good percentage of the people with children chose to have children. Did they know what they were getting themselves into? (Forgive my ending the sentence with a preposition; it just sounds so much better.) If so, then why complain? After all it was a choice made fully informed. And if they didn't, then why should they mock those who are in the SAME position the parents were prior to having children.


You see, fertile people also don't know.

  • They don't know what it's like to lie in bed wondering if a baby's cry will ever punctuate the night.
  • They don't now what it's like to cry oneself to sleep after a third miscarriage and wonder if it's possible to be happy again.
  • They don't know what it's like to face the embarrassment of providing a sample as a man, or of a transvaginal ultrasound as a woman, or the pain of a progesterone-in-oil injection.
  • They don't know what it's like to hear "you're next" for the hundredth time.
  • They don't know how painful it can be to answer the seemingly-innocent "Do you have kids?" question.
  • They don't know what it's like to attend a baby shower just after you learn your road will be infinitely more complicated.
  • They don't know what it's like to hear someone tell a new mother how much a baby looks like her, when you know yours never will because you have no viable eggs.
  • They don't know what it's like to worry every minute that a pregnancy will end in disaster, no matter how far along into the "safety zone" one is (because there is no safety zone).
  • They don't know what it's like to hate one's uncooperative body.
  • They don't know what it's like to question what defines female because one's body can neither create nor sustain life in the way that is classically the epitome of womanhood.
  • They don't know what it's like to sing someone else's baby to sleep and wonder if your turn will ever come. And I do mean "if" and not "when."
  • They don't know what it's like to time intimacy until the romance is gone, or how tortuous a two-week-wait is.
  • They don't know what it's like to feel out of synch with everyone else, who are now having their second child when you started beforehand and are still empty-armed.

I could go on, but I just want to leave it with this: They don't know how much it hurts when someone complains about that which you want most.

This same routine could have been far less hurtful. The comedian could have done it as "before kids vs after kids" and that would have made me chortle along with the rest of the audience. Because of course life changes, and gets more complicated. But go easy on those of us without children. It wasn't always a choice. And we aren't all "free."