Grieving the potential loss of a dream is as real as experiencing the loss of a loved one.
This is her grief:
Night sweats are the story of the day and a new, uncomfortable symptom I've been experiencing. Night sweats are uncomfortable because, well: Ew. It's freezing cold, but my legs are clammy and sweaty, and all of the sudden I can't sleep with pajama pants on anymore.
The sweat is a feverish feeling, the kind that makes me roll over and take my temperature at three in the morning. I never even get the thermometer to a normal body temperature.
In the larger scope of my symptomology, and given the fact that it
1) doesn't physically hurt
2) isn't disfiguring
3) is the worst at night, when I can lay without pants, it wouldn't ordinarily be a huge concern for me.
Except, what do we most often hear that night sweats are a symptom of, ladies?
Here's where you laugh at me because I'm only 33 years old, and that's some paranoia you've got going on there.
Yes, when I did some research, it turns out that hot flashes tend to be experienced in your upper body during menopause, and that there are a million more likely (for me) reasons that night sweats have begun:
New medications (check), the presence of autoimmune conditions (check), thyroid or hormonal issues (check), certain infections (maybe?), issues surrounding The Pre-Diabetes (perhaps), cancers (hope not), just because (sounds like me), and early menopause, which is, of course what I am fixated on, because: NO.
I can't automatically assume that these new symptoms aren't some weird new manifestation of whatever autoimmune ruckus my body has decided to participate in this month. Not when you consider last month's allergic reaction rash to... nothing in particular, or June's random mouth sores, or November's numbed fingers. I can't put anything past the chaos of is own wacky configuration of unexplainable, largely-untreatable, chronic illnesses.
My mother began menopausal symptoms early - her doctor didn't believe it was menopause because she was only 35. It took another ten years before her symptoms became intense and life-changing, but her random symptoms began in her mid-thirties.
Both of my grandmothers, on the other hand, showed no such early menopausal proclivities - one of them had her four babies between the ages of 25-38 and the other started at 23 and didn't finish until she was 46! And why this is the first time I've actually done the math on that is a whole 'nother thing to think about.
Still, it's a concern.
It's a concern because I still want babies - as unrealistic and far-fetched a pipe dream as that may seem to anybody (including me) who sees how I struggle to get through my life right now. I still want kids, some day. And the idea that some day might not happen is pretty freaking devastating.
I had a near-breakdown a while back while discussing children with one of my sisters; just started bawling, because I know there's a very real chance that this may never happen for me, given that I seem to be getting sicker, rather than better. Plus, I don't ... date or have relationships or do anything besides survive, most days. Not having kids is something I may have to learn to accept.
It's very difficult to accept that having a life-long desire for a baby, that having more than enough love for a child, having the longing for a ten-year-old freckle-faced firebrand of my own, is not strong enough to overcome not having the physical health for a baby. The financial stability for said toddler. The energetic wherewithal for the freckle-faced firebrand.
It is a bitter pill, and it's combined with so many other bitter pills that I just... I can't.
It's not that I'm giving up on all of those hopes, not yet.
It's that I feel like that door is being closed for me - by time and health, by money and relationship status, by living at home, by being able to work or drive, by all the other nameless concerns that I have. I don't know what to do about any of it.
In the meantime, everyone I went to school with, or am related to, is pregnant. Or nursing. Or trying to conceive. Or complaining that their one year-old won't crib train, or their 8-year old won't clean her room.
And instead of doing any of those things, I'm battling my own skin, my lungs, my pain, squeaking out a (smaller, sometimes heartbreakingly so) existence as best I can manage.
I want nothing more than to be there with them, to feel only empathy instead of the jealousy-tinged empathy I feel right now. Oh, to have teething to complain about (she says safely from her child-free side of the fence.).
I don't know how to fight this particular battle, or even if it's winnable. It's just there: something on my mind at almost all times.
There should be a word for the specific kind of lonely you feel when you long for a child and can't seem to have one. It's like being homesick, but for a home you've not yet lived in. For me, it's a spiritual version of my fibromyalgia - a psychic sensitivity to touch, an all-over heartache that appears incurable.
Without tooting my own horn too much, I'm an exceptional Auntie - all my godchildren and nieces and nephews would agree, I hope. I'm good at spoiling and sleepovers; I rock at finding the missing sock or remembering who got to sit shotgun last time. I don't bypass any of the necessary time-outs or disciplining, and I've always got the newest book to read or game to play.
I make weekly phone calls, Facebook tags, "what's news" texts to check in with The Littles in my life. But - even though I've helped raise some of them from the day they were born - at night, most nights, they go home to their parents, and I say good-bye.
And when they leave, their parents decide whether or not they can watch TV or have an iPhone when they're ten; whether they should play soccer or ballet or both; what their family's holiday traditions are and when they can visit their auntie. That's okay - that's how it should be. But wanting that for myself? Wanting to be the Mom, not just the Auntie, is... overwhelming right now.
Do you, The Band, have any advice for her? Any tips for coping with this anticipatory loss?8 Comments