Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Am I a Parent? - Part 1

The following will be the start of a multi-part series, the start of which I have drafted already as I have stewed on my thoughts but it is way more than I think anyone's attention span, including my own, can handle in one big chunk. I think it is going to get deep at times, and be light at times. I hope to stimulate thought, invoke comments, and learn something along the way.

For sake of not repeating things and trying to keep this as short as possible I will not tell the whole story again. To summarize, we have been pregnant twice and lost the pregnancy twice. I think becoming pregnant or finding out your wife is pregnant is an exciting moment in anyone's life. Reality is that not everyone is happy about it when it happens, but it is definitely an exciting moment. For those of us that try so long and work so hard, it is both a very exciting and a very happy moment. The first positive test Jennifer got, I was still laying in bed when she came to tell me about it. I was so excited when she told me that all I could say over and over was, "Show me, Show me." We were very excited and some may say we went off the deep end about it. We had a nickname whenever we talked about it, BB, for Baby Burns. Stores that sold baby items suddenly experienced a huge increase in gravity because we were constantly attracted to them, stopping, looking, and buying. I was so excited I was just plain goofy. I would rub Jennifer's belly and say things like there's a baby in there with a huge uncontrollable smile on my face. The excitement ruled my emotions and my judgment. Go to the store and spend more money, sure why not, we are having a baby. Is there any reason to be mad or unhappy about anything, no, we're having a baby. It was like being drunk constantly. Nothing could bring me down. But then something did. We went for an ultrasound appointment to check the heartbeat, only thing is, there wasn't one anymore. Nearly 12 weeks on an endless high, Christmas is just days away, we have decided to tell our families, and then it's gone, all gone. I don't know how to relate this to anything else. It's not like you parents promising you a car when you turn 16 and then not getting you one, yeah that sucks, but you get over it. I don't know that you ever get over a loss like this. We got pregnant again, but the second time, we were cautious, at least I was. I wanted to get excited, but I wanted to protect myself from the crash should it happen again. I was torn between being happy-go-lucky and enjoy the moment now while it is here, and suppressing the joy and excitement until a baby was actually in my arms. I ended up somewhere in the middle, not near one extreme or the other. And so the story goes, we lost that pregnancy too.

The losses hurt. It's your lifelong dream, how you've always seen your future, and basic instinct to have children. They hurt because you get so attached to something you can't even see, hear, or touch. Modern technology can give you indirect sight, and artificial sound, but you become totally attached to something so tiny you would never notice it otherwise. The unknown hurts. Why did this happen, I thought this was it, will it ever work? How can medicine work out all the hormone interactions, practically guarantee you a boy or girl if you so desire, fertilize an egg outside of the body, put it back into the body and have it develop, but not be able to explain something they tell you AFTER THE FACT is as common as 1 in 3 to 1 in 4 pregnancies. I know not all losses happen for the same reason, but if humans are so inefficient at reproduction, why doesn't anyone tell us in the first place? Why do they scare the hell out of you in health class and leave you with the impression that if you so much as point your thing at her thing she could get pregnant? They don't tell you that you're limited to a tiny window of opportunity each month. Sorry, there I go off topic. Seeing your wife hurt, and not being able to help hurts. Hurting together helps some, but it still hurts to see the one you love hurt emotionally and physically at the same time.

Anyway, "Am I a parent?" may sound insensitive to some. To some it is a no brainer, to many it is a clear YES. To some maybe a clear NO. To me, it's not clear. Part of me wants to be a parent, and wants to accept that I am a parent. But am I, or is that day yet to come? Part of me wants to believe I am not a parent yet, because maybe believing that now will take away from the future moment when I hold my kicking screaming squirming child for the first time. Part of me wants to believe that I am a parent because Jennifer and I have a disconnect on this topic. Maybe it is a man/woman difference, maybe she has a broader knowledge and experience base to support her opinion. Although I don’t like the stereotype, maybe it is engineer mentality. Hopefully through this series of writings, whatever course it takes, I will find out. But I can't just accept it, I need to convince myself or hear or read something that turns on that light bulb, to be convinced. I am keeping an open mind about this, but I don't think a day is a holiday just because Hallmark makes a card for it. Greedy little.......anyway, to be continued.....


Rachel said...

After my miscarriage, I struggled with this exact same thing. When people ask me if I have children, I feel weird saying "no", but technically I did have a child.

Geohde said...

It's a toughie.

If and when I conceive again, I think I will be honest and say it is our second. Even if that means the following inevitable awkwardness about the not-age of our first child.

Lori said...

I can't think of a comment, other than this is a very thought-provoking post. And I wanted you to know I read it and it has stayed with me.