Saturday, July 7, 2012

mixed babies*

Two stories...

The other night, two nights ago actually, I had a dream.  It was at the end of the night, almost morning, almost time to wake up.  I dreamed I was expecting, in the late stages of pregnancy.  And then I had the baby - the dream included labor; it was an odd, dream version of labor, not completely logical, not including all the facts that even I know would be included, but the story continued its natural progression.  And so then I had the baby, a take-home baby, and I was still me, still infertile, with this shocking unexpected baby.  And I didn't know what to call him.  Everyone wanted to know his name, and I couldn't figure it out, which surprised everyone, and bewildered and distressed me.  But I just worked on it in my mind, and it took me days.  And in two or three days - a shockingly long time, for someone who so knows her own mind about these things - I decided that his name should be Christopher.  And then some time after that I woke up.

During the dream, I moved toward waking a couple of times.  (Those are the only dreams I remember - the ones that happen when I'm nearly awake.  I'll go years without noticing I've had a single dream; I'm sure I have them, I just don't remember them.  I rarely have nightmares.)  You know how sometimes when you're partly-awake, you'll have vague thoughts that reflect on the dream, that indicate you realize you're dreaming?  "That's not logical" or "I shouldn't be thinking about this" or, with a nightmare, "I should wake up and stop this," or whatever; but you're not awake, so you can't easily change the path of your thoughts and you drift back into sleep.  I think twice during that dream, I drifted far enough toward wakefulness to remember that I wasn't pregnant; that I'm infertile and this was all very unreal; and that entertaining a dream on this subject could hurt me and I would be wise to stop.  But I didn't step away from the dream, I faded back into it, and I was OK.

After I woke up, I lay there for a while, thinking about it.  I know the strange delay in choosing a name (I've had children's names picked out for years) was a direct expression about my ambivalence about having a child - that it's truly not a part of my life, and its lack has in many ways been definitive for me - and also my recognition (in the dream's reality) of how big a deal this was.  Also, I have no explanation at all about the name Christopher.  It's not a family name, I've never had any particular devotion to or fascination with St. Christopher, and I would not actually name a child that.  (Not that it's not a nice name; it just has no particular appeal to me.)

Second story...

A friend of my husband's from college started dating a girl who had just graduated from college.  He was ten or twelve years older.  His friends were all skeptical when the relationship started, but the two got married.  I met her only once, for ten seconds at another wedding, not long after they were married.  A few years later, a friend of mine went to PPVI to see Dr. Hilgers, and ran into the wife there.  Turns out they were also having problems conceiving (they had been married just a couple of years).  And she had gotten married at just 22!  (Sometimes I forget that I was 23.)

A few months later, we were surprised to hear their marriage was having real problems - we weren't sure on the details or how serious they were, but the fights sure sounded serious, with her saying that she'd never thought the marriage was a good idea.  Then they separated.  Then they divorced.  Not long after, she was seeing someone else (I don't know how long that had been going on).  It should be noted that these people are visibly devout Catholics, from Very Catholic Families - although, of course, such people can fall as well as the rest of us.

I wondered whether their marriage had just had too many difficulties, and infertility was just one burden too many (something I've thought about my marriage, too); would they have been OK, if they had been able to have children (and would children have occupied her emotional energy, such that she wouldn't have fretted herself to death about her marriage)?

While the annulment was still pending, the husband started dating a young woman I know - also very Catholic, and someone I like, but someone who has a lot of issues of her own.  I was inclined to think that both of them had chosen the relationship as a form of rebellion, because they were unhappy or unsettled, and knew they shouldn't be dating each other.  I didn't take it at all seriously.  Then I heard that they were engaged.  I was surprised, and apprehensive for both of them.  I knew his annulment had just gone through (and, obviously, they were dating beforehand).  It didn't quite work out in my mind.  And then I learned that she was expecting.  And he had to leave his job.  Which I assume dictated the timing of the proposal, and perhaps the proposal itself.  (I can't claim to know for sure.)

The obvious response (OK, the obvious IFer response) is, "Well, it wasn't MFI."  But of course, I don't know that.  It could be the mother (ha!) of all bad luck.  Not being able to have a child could have been the end of his first marriage.  Being able to have a child could be the beginning and end (if the marriage turns out fundamentally unsound, which seems possible) of his second.  I don't know that, and I wish them well, but their path so far has been extremely rocky, and they're just starting out.

I've written before about how it gives me a curious kind of solace that I'm not the only person who has to carry a cross, and we should all acknowledge our sufferings and try to bear one another up (rather than bore people to tears about our blessings and paint our lives as entirely rosy when that's nobody's reality).  Not to the exclusion of gratitude - but we can be grateful for the crosses, too, and still call them crosses.  I've written specifically about how I know that babies do not exactly present themselves as blessings for some people, in some circumstances.  But I've never written about (or encountered) a situation like this.  The irony really packs a punch.

It's not about the babies, is it?  There's a much greater reality afoot.

*No, this is not a post about multiracial children.  That's not really one of my areas.


  1. I hope it works out for them too, but I see your point and agree with you about the irony. I also really like what you said about crosses and blessings and lifting each other up--you are absolutely right. Well said.

  2. Interesting...but I've never heard of babies saving marriages...they actually cause more stress (just what I have seen and heard and have actually read a little bit of research on this topic). One of my older brothers is a prime example of this...when him and said wife got married...there was stress and no one knew if it would last then...a few years later (amongst more stress), they conceive and my nephew is born. I believe she thought a baby would make things better. All was bliss and smiles for about a year (maybe less...they live in FL and I in IL..who knows really)...then stress and fighting returned...and boom...they are expecting nephew # 2. THis time...the bliss didn't last very long at all...and within a was sleeping alone...they hung out in the same house but did not live a married life. Married, single people is what they became. Now? They are getting divorced (or have been for about three years...custody of the children is a sticking point). Those children did not save that marriage...they definitely brought on more stress and looks like my brother will lose total custody and will see his children less and less and maybe never if their mother has her way (and so far, the courts have sided with her). My brother has never regretted his boys..EVER but he has admitted that they didn't make things easy. Who really can expect babies to make marriages work? Really?

    Sometimes, my brother has stated that he has wanted a marriage like mine...and I've stated that I would love children. We all have crosses. Whether we chose to blog about them or not...we all have them.

    I agree,,,IF can also put a lot of stress on a marriage too. It was hard at one point and my dh and I reflect often of the years we were on the TTC boat. Very rocky. Lots of tears, anger and sorrow. I attribute our success to prayer and our faith that God had something better planned for us. I'm believing that every day more and more. We believed in a better future. We stayed focused. Babies are wonderful and a blessing...but if God has other plans...couples have to remain strong and be willing to wait for God's plan to come to light. Life has more to offer. Not being a parent was not going to end our lives or marriage.

    Sorry I ran on and on...your post made me reflect. God Bless!

  3. "we should all acknowledge our sufferings and try to bear one another up (rather than bore people to tears about our blessings and paint our lives as entirely rosy when that's nobody's reality). Not to the exclusion of gratitude - but we can be grateful for the crosses, too, and still call them crosses"

    Amen, sister! Love that. I'm always attracted to blogs that are balanced and truthful. You are right- everyone has a cross even if it is hidden.

  4. What can I fascinate it me! And, I am too stupid to add anything to your wise post.

  5. I hear you on the baby names. I've had mine picked out for several years and still feel pretty attached to them. But, I find it unhealthy to spend too much time thinking about it and I'm glad I've never had a dream about it. But I like the name 'Christopher!'

    It's funny you should mention sufferings and the importance of bloggers talking about them rather than displaying this veneer of a perfect life once they've conquered infertility. I find the "hey, I'm struggling here" posts gather way less feedback whereas the "I'm Pregnant!!!!!" posts garner dozens of happy comments. Am I jealous? Sure. But, a lot of bloggers I'm certain censor themselves because they are not writing anonymously. I have no problem talking about how painful life can be and being honest about it because (I hope) no one can identify me.

    And it's not about the babies, you're right. I think this community has narrowed it's focus to "getting pregnant is life's central goal" and are happy to reinforce it with gushing comments. Yes, I'm thrilled when people who want a child get one but I'm much more interested in reading and supporting those that are honest and real about life and our struggles as Christians. I guess this is why I don't read mommy blogs anymore, or only occasionally. ;)