|D. at a few weeks old.|
I have had it for as long as I can remember. In fact, one of my earliest memories is waking up from a nap in the guest room/play room that would later be the room I shared with my sister. I was groggy as I noticed something lumpy under my clothes. It was my baby doll, and I remembered that I had put it under my shirt to pretend I was pregnant.
Though I was a bit of a tomboy growing up, preferring sports and bike riding to barbie dolls, I was always open to a good old fashioned game of house with baby dolls.
I always wanted kids. I always wanted ten of them. Very early on, I idolized a family in our parish with lots of kids (some of whom were adopted) more than any other family I knew.
But, as I grew into a woman and began looking around for husband material...I didn't see much. My twenties turned into my thirties and at last, Jim came into my life. We married when I was 36 and my first was born when I was 37. I have always been a "high risk mother", a "mother of advanced age". So, I had to set aside the dream of ten children years ago.
That was fine. I can deal with that. I am very, very blessed with three children in exactly four years of older motherhood. Each birth was followed by the hope of "just one more".
But now, as my youngest is almost five, I look fearfully on the possible end of my fertility. This blessing, that so much of the world treats as a disease, will disappear. And I am not ready for that. The baby longing comes stronger as the months and years advance. And it brings with it pain and fear.
Pain at the thought of not having another. Of never feeling that life move inside of me again. At recognizing that others so close to me have that same pain, and not as many living blessings I have.
The fear, though, is a mixed bag. As a "mother of advance age" every medical professional, women's magazine, or news show feels it their God-given duty to warn you about the dangerous possibilities. The statistics are everywhere. Even though I doubt their validity most of the time (what with abortion and contraception how can you really get an accurate picture of the possibilities?), they stir up the fear. Can I handle it if....?
But there is also the fear of getting older and all that entails--physically, mentally, spiritually. I know women do grow to embrace their post-menopausal lives...I am just not ready to even think of that right now! I still look in the mirror and see a twenty-something in a slightly-older-than-twenty-something body. And sometimes I even feel like a fourteen year old--especially in social situations or when my faults are glaring me in the face.
So.....just like those years before Jim and I found each other, I am forced to pray hard, and try harder to let go at the same time. To hold on tight to hope, but not dream too much. Hold on, let go, hold on, let go. The ultimate Catholic "both/and".