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Archive for January, 2018

In January 1986, I was an 11th grader at Dreher High School.  I was a Library Aide for one of my class periods.  There weren’t televisions in every classroom or SmartBoards or computers.  We had a few TVs on AV carts that were borrowed by teachers.  On this day, there were only so many to go around.  One of the self-contained classes had come to the library to watch the Challenger lift off from Cape Canaveral in Florida on one of the televisions we did have in that area.

This was important in SC and in schools because we had home state hero, Ronald McNair and teacher, Christa McAuliffe on board. It wasn’t common to watch the lift offs, but occasionally we would in a science class.  The librarian, myself, the special education teacher and her aide and a handful of students from the self-contained classroom were all standing up watching the lift off.  For most people who watched the tragedy unfold, they remember the sight of that explosion and witnessing the deaths of the brave men and women on board.  While I do remember that, the moment I remember most about that day was when Helen, one of the students in that class of students who had come to the library excited to witness this event.  She was stricken.  As soon as it was clear that this was a fatal event, she let loose the most pained, heart-wrenching cry.  “NOOOOO!  THERE’S A TEACHER ON THAT SPACESHIP! NOOO! SHE CAN’T DIE!”  She just fell down and started crying and repeating this over and over.  She was utterly inconsolable.  I felt so sorry her, and her raw emotion and utter sadness touched every person in that room.

She was finally able to be led to the nurse, where her parents were called to come get her.  She missed several days afterward.  Apparently, she had to be sedated and kept that way for several days until she was able to come to terms with the tragedy.

Even today, 32 years later, that is the image that comes to me whenever the Challenger tragedy is discussed.  As a teacher, we take our students to the Challenger Center that we have here in my town.  The Challenger Center provides students with hands-on activities and experiences related to NASA and the space program.

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I talk a lot, but I don’t always voice the things that are hurting me or causing me anxiety or stress.  I have always been the type of person who puts those hurts and indignities that I suffer in a neat little box in my brain and file it away, slowly building up a thick wall around it.  I can visual my brain as this endless file room full of various sized boxes depending on what needs to be filed away.  I don’t forget, I just harden myself to whatever has occurred.  It has probably made me more jaded and cranky that some folks, but I am better equipped to deal with difficult things if I can force myself to become objective.

I have had a worse life than some and a better life than most.  I have achieved nearly every goal I have set for myself.  College – check.  Grad school – check.  Work in a law firm – check.  Change careers and become a teacher – check. Fix my credit – check.  Find the love of my life – check.   Unfortunately, I have come upon the one goal I will never achieve.  You can call it a goal or a dream, a want or a desire, whatever label you put on it, I will never be able to get pregnant.  Being a mom is something I always wanted.  I always thought about “my kids” and what they’d be like and how it would be.  I may be come a mother, if adoption works out, but I will never know what it’s like to actually be pregnant.

My husband and I endured many miscarriages and finally got pregnant three years ago. I made it past the “danger zone” and told everyone the great news.  A week later, we found out that we had miscarried when we had a routine appointment.  It shredded my heart.  I wailed.  Even as I write this, my heart feels like it’s breaking again.  We went through the procedures you have to after an event like this, but I never really got over it  How do you?  You just put on the mask and move about your day.  I have always been good at masking things and eventually that box gets filed away, and I can move on. I have had other miscarriages since then, but no pregnancies that we ever though were going to be successful, no “this time it will work” moments.  My husband is amazing and understands me so well that even though I don’t want to talk about it and don’t, he knows.

This time last year we had an adoption in the works.  In March, she had the baby, invited us up to see her, hold her and name her, filling out the birth certificate.  We were to take her home on a Tuesday.  By the end of the day that Tuesday, she wasn’t returning calls and we learned that she had changed her mind.  Though I harbor no ill will or animosity towards this girl, it was just another thing to shred my unhealed heart.

Trying to become a mom has been the one failure or disappointment that I can’t get over or tuck away or not think about. I literally think about it every day.  “Oh, I will never wear maternity clothes” as I walk past them in Target.  “If everything had worked out, I would have a baby here this Christmas to buy gifts for.  I have a Christmas ornament I bought during that pregnancy that has never been taken out of the box.  I have a room full of things in my house that were supposed to be used to decorate a nursery.  It just chips away at you a little at a time.  You never know what will cause you to burst into tears.   I have always been considered strong and confident, but this one thing that thousands of women do every day, create a life, future and love it while it grows inside of you, I can’t do.

Now, my doctor tells me he doesn’t want me to get pregnant. I have other issues that will impede the process and possibly kill me if I do it.  No one wants to read about medical details, but I must have a procedure in a week that will prevent me from getting pregnant because it could literally kill me.  Then in May, when I should be planning my summer off and what I’ll be doing with my child, I will be getting a hysterectomy.  I am old. I am almost fifty. We have been trying for 5 years.  In the beginning, I thought we stood a chance.  I think that little spark of hope was my biggest enemy.  I let myself think this would happen.

Not only do I feel like a failure, but I feel like I a depriving my husband of the opportunity to be a dad.  He doesn’t agree and is so loving and supportive, and that makes me feel bad because I don’t feel like I deserve that.  If he hadn’t married someone so old, he’d be able to be a father.  I waited until I was older to get married and have kids.  I wanted to be married and then have a child. I grew up with a grandmother and no mom or dad around.  I didn’t want to repeat that cycle.  I also didn’t meet anyone I wanted to marry.  I never wanted to get married just because other people thought I should.  I wanted to wait for “the one”, and I did.  That I do not regret at all.  He says, he had to marry me, I am his soul mate.  I know he’s mine, too, but that I can’t give him a child breaks my heart even more.

At this point, my heart is a tattered mess.   I don’t want to see a therapist, but I probably will.  I do think that writing this all down is cathartic.  I also think that hopefully, with some actual closure and the spark of hope is gone, I will be able to pack up the box and tuck it far away in my head.  I know that my situation isn’t unique or special, and I am holding out hope that we will be able to adopt, but that, too, must have a deadline. I can’t go on forever hoping that it will happen.

I am not writing this for pity or whatever you want to call it.  Just keep this story in mind when you so freely ask women “Don’t you want to get married?”  “Don’t you want kids?”   First of all, it’s none of your business. Second of all, it could be a subject that brings an onslaught of emotions and pain.

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