Be Careful What You Wish For

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We’re so clever when we’re young. We have it all figured out. I did, or so I thought. You see, my Mother was one of eight children; so was my Dad. And together they had eight children, of which I was third. The problem was they had neither the financial, nor the emotional resources to cope with such a brood. In my youthful wisdom, seeing how miserable my Mother was, it seemed a “no-brainer” to me. In order to be happy, I must: (1) avoid relationships; (2) never have children; and (3) get as far away from home as I possibly could. Sadly, I achieved two out of three; and it did not bring happiness.

So career-focused was I that I did not re-examine the logic of those conclusions until my late thirties – when I realized just how lonely and empty my life had become.  Eventually, at age 39, I did marry – a man who had come to my country from the other side of the globe. And suddenly, we wanted children too. But that was not to be. Oh we tried! For two years, I rose in the dark, drove to the fertility clinic, and subjected myself to the poking, the prodding, and the injections. There were a lot of other women there, and you had to be early if you wanted to get it all done and still get to work on time. Finally I did get pregnant. We were over the moon! But at 3 months I miscarried. Of course I’d try again. The doctors were committed to successful outcomes. They wanted their numbers high! But never once did any one of them ask me how I was doing emotionally. And I was not doing well.

Nevertheless, after a couple of years of the agony of failed fertility treatments, I told my husband, and the doctors, that it was time I stopped focusing on something I could not do, and focused on what I could. It was not an easy decision. I worked in an office where there were a lot of young women; and they were all having babies. Of course, all of my siblings had children too. To be a part of such a large family and not to have a child of my own was devastating. But there were two things my husband had absolutely ruled out: donor sperm, and adoption. And so the focus then went back to my career, and then to my husband’s. It was his career that took us to live on the other side of the world (my third wish).

Another decade passes. We are a childless couple; but we are living our dream life in Australia. Meanwhile, back in Canada, I have 60-some nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews whom I never see. I had thought the pain would stop when family, friends and colleagues stopped having babies. But no, then they have grandkids! And now my husband often wonders aloud, “Is it too late to adopt?” “Yes,” I tell him, “It is.”

What is my point? It is just this: What you think you want when you’re young may not bring you the happiness you’re looking for in the years ahead. Something to think about?