Childless...And I'm OK with that.
"Rockin' the Dog Mom and Aunt Life"...that's exactly what I am doing! But it wasn't always this way. There was a time in my life where I didn't feel complete as a woman because I did not have my own child. An amazing friend of over 20 years sent me this t-shirt and I am in love. It inspired me to share my story, so, here it is...
Rewind to 2006. I was 26 years old and married to who I thought would be the man of my life, Husband of the year and eventually wonderful Father. We had a kick-ass wedding. It was the start of a new chapter in my life, but, I wasn't ready to make the commitment to having children just yet. Heck, in my mind, I was still in my 20s and that meant I was still in my "party decade". I honestly couldn't understand why people were having children at my age, let alone any age under 35. However, I was never one of those young girls who dreamed of being a Mother. I just kind of expected it would happen one day. I wouldn't say I was longing for that moment. I still wanted to have my freedom, vacation with my new Husband and enjoy the nightlife every weekend. Unfortunately, that didn't last long.
Shortly after my dream wedding, I was also diagnosed with a form of peripheral neuropathy called Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease. Basically, from the knees down, I was losing muscle because the "messengers" aka my nerves were not connecting my muscles with my brain. Atrophy started big time. Within just a few months, I went from being able to wear high heel shoes or run 2 miles...to walking with a limp, experiencing extreme muscle atrophy, deformed toes and drop foot in both feet. I was devastated. I experienced anxiety attacks, major depression and I even lost my job with our family business because I became a recluse.
I always knew I had a 50% chance of being diagnosed with CMT. My Mother and my maternal Grandmother had it. But I had always been told, "I don't think you have it Kelly. You're much more muscular and athletic than I ever was at your age", my Mother would say to me. My form of CMT is actually a late onset in life type of the disease. I shouldn't be experiencing these symptoms at age 27.
Yet, it happened to me at age 27 and it came on like a bat out of hell. Worse off than my own Mother's symptoms at my age. Some doctors said it could have been due to some of the things that happened to me during my marriage...physical abuse, stress, etc. Some doctors said it's just the way this disease runs, it's very uncertain and different for everyone.
Eventually, my marriage failed and I was approaching 30. I never expected to marry again, because who would want to be with a "cripple" like me, as my ex-Husband would say to me.
That's when I lost all hope for ever having a decent life, let alone ever having a family. In a way, I was also very bitter. Why me? I also didn't want to pass this disability on to my children. So the idea of having children ended for me, and it ate away at me like no other. Every time I heard of a pregnancy announcement or birth announcement, I cried for days. Why me? Why can't I have THAT life?
And then I met Steve. I'm gonna dig deep here folks, so be prepared. I'll be honest with you...it was supposed to be a one night stand. I'm not a slut, but I was still in a dark and depressed time in my life. I didn't really care any more about life. I just wanted to find something to distract me from everything I hated about life. Including my disability.
We met at a bonfire at my neighbor's house. He was visiting family but would be returning to Florida in 2 weeks. So I thought, "What the hell, let's make it a fun night. No strings attached. I'll never see him again."
Yet I woke up the next morning with him in my kitchen making me coffee. What the hell was he still doing here? After I politely asked him why he was still in my house, he responded with, "I'm not the type of guy to just leave...even though you told me at 4am that I had to go." Ooops! Apparently he had no where to go because his family had already left the bonfire that night and he was stuck at my house.
I immediately started thinking to myself, "OMG, did he see my legs? What is he going to think? Why is he still here?"
As he made a few phone calls, we realized that my neighbors (much younger than I was) were actually out in my hot tub still partying from the night before. We went outside and enjoyed our coffee, laughing at the fact that these kids pretty much invited themselves over to my backyard and hot tub. Oh to be young. So I sat there, waiting to see if he would say anything about my legs, yet he still said nothing.
We ended up having a great afternoon together on my back patio. Talking for hours about our life experiences. So, I finally dug up the courage to say to him, "You know, I have a disability. My legs don't work so well. I just don't want to gross you out or anything."
His response, "So? My half-Brother was born without legs. Who cares? You're a dime piece."
At that moment, I wanted to cry. Cry with tears of happiness. I had just met someone who looked past my disability. That one night stand turned into two weeks of spending every day with each other, eventually traveling across country with one another and now together for almost 10 years. I had met my soul mate. I had met the man I wanted to marry, spend the rest of my life with and also...have a family with...
That's right, I said "have a family with." He made me realize that my disability shouldn't stop me from enjoying life and doing the things I've always wanted to do. So we tried and tried and tried. I watched birth announcement after birth announcement after birth announcement on Facebook, including the 2nd, 3rd and then 4th announcement from my Brother and Sister-in-law. Yet Steve and I were still childless. Depression set in once again. Big time.
What the hell? We tried everything we could possibly do with the exception of IVF. We changed our lifestyles completely. Started eating healthier, stopped consuming any alcohol, quit smoking. Monitored my cycles. Used OTC products that were supposed to help. Times of day, my body temperature, you name it, we tried it. Still childless.
It got to the point where I would actually feel good if I found out that someone else was struggling with the same issue. How wrong is that? But I just didn't understand why this was happening to me. I wanted to blame someone. I wanted to know why. Why God? Haven't you already hit me with enough crap? Can't I just have this one thing?
Years went by and it wasn't until about the age of 36 that I finally accepted it. I accepted the fact that I probably was never going to have children. I decided to change my mindset. What WAS I thankful for? Well, I have an amazing life partner for starters. We own a beautiful home and we're both employed with amazing jobs that allow us to work from home and have great health benefits. We have three awesome dogs. We are financially stable. We are in good health. We have an amazing and supportive family. I am the Aunt to 4 incredible nephews and a feisty, beautiful niece. I am blessed with so many things to be thankful for. In addition to all of these wonderful things, I have the opportunity to make a difference in so many young lives.
At 38 years old, going on 39 in a few months, I am OK with "Rockin' the Dog Mom and Aunt Life". I've chose not to live in darkness, but to live in the light that God has given me. My purpose may not be to bear children. My purpose might just be to console others who are struggling with infertility and to also make it a point to be that person a child looks up to, even if it's not my own child. Yes, I have a scar on my heart, but my heart has finally healed. Remember you are not alone. YOU are important to someone. Don't EVER forget that.