Why do I fawn over YOUR child? Probably because I never had one of my own. I might not have been the world’s best mother, but I sorely wish God had granted me that opportunity and blessing. Unfortunately, at the mature age of 58, my fertile time has come and gone.
I glide down the street, talking to any youngster I see. I’m especially delighted to find babies. Friends get tired of my babble. They proudly proclaim, “Nobody wants you to talk to their children!”
So, what. I mean no harm, I’m being fulfilled, and I’m sharing my love with that child.
For some reason, last year found me dreading the annual gynecological checkup. I finally forced myself to go, months late, in September. Sitting there, I had a panoramic view of the waiting room. Most of the patients were Orthodox Jews or Muslim, with the accompanying wig and long dress, or vibrant fabric hiding most of their bodies except for their faces. Several Caribbean women with their lovely sing-song cadence completed the mosaic. I stared at all of these ladies, and all much younger than me, most sporting big bellies. Many also had small children annexed to them.
Aren’t you all lucky, I lamented.
Surrounded by all this fertility, a strong wave of depression washed over me. I couldn’t wait to be seen by the doctor, so that I could flee. Why had I been deprived of this pleasure? I don’t relish the thought of returning to that office, this year. Would you?
Thus, dear reader, it’s not amazing that I, who have never birthed a child, became a children’s librarian at a Brooklyn, New York Public Library. My 33-year career was a perfect fit for me. I especially love sharing picture books with youngsters five years of age and younger. One supervisor nicknamed me “the Pied Piper,” as young children were often drawn to me like a magnet, and would sometimes follow me and lose their parents! Luckily for them and me, I’m no pedophile!
When I’m intimate with my boyfriend, I keep hoping that somehow, someway, I will get pregnant, even though my monthly period, which I chiefly considered a red nuisance, stopped three years ago. My loving boyfriend, who is full of faith and a Bible thumper, said to me, “What about barren Rachel, who prayed to God and had a baby?”
And ladies, look at songstress Janet Jackson, who wowed the world with a baby boy at age 50!
I ponder my partner’s words. Will God “look down on me with favor,” as Rachel, and bless ME with a bundle of joy, ME, damn near 60, and no longer ovulating? Hear the “NO’s?” As Homey D. Clown would always blast to youngsters on the popular 90s TV comedy, In Living Color,
“I don’t think so. Homey don’t play that!”
Besides, I’m not that religious.
I told my partner that we met 15 years too late.
So, here am I, with no baby to love, cradle, or read to. No toddler gazing up at me with unconditional love and acceptance. No preschooler to call my own. No child. The grief has intensified since my period stopped and I grasped the obvious: I could no longer conceive.
There are definite medical reasons for my barrenness. I am on heavy psychotropic medicine for major mental illness. Thus, after years of scary, protection-free sex, the only pregnancy I ever achieved was at age 44 with my soon-to-be husband. I was blissfully happy when the midwife gave me the news that I was two months pregnant. My only reservation was that I would look and feel like a shotgun bride at our wedding which would be held in six months.
But when the gynecologist called us in later that month, I was full of foreboding. She told my fiancé and me that the fetus was too small, and wouldn’t survive. My baby would soon self-abort and exit my womb. I cried tears of anguished grief while the doctor yelled at me for my outburst. My fiancé, sad to see me in misery, and also sad about losing his child, held me tight. But even his strong arms around me couldn’t lessen my pain.
Several weeks later, the fetus plopped out with my urine stream. It was a small glob of clear jelly-like substance, with blue and red veins. I cried, then grabbed a jar and scooped it up.
Next morning, I carried the dead fetus to the gynecologist, asking her to evaluate and see if it would have been a boy or a girl. Not that the sex mattered. I would have been ecstatic with a healthy baby. I just wanted to know more about my lost child.
The gynecologist never reported back. I’m sure they flushed my baby down the toilet.
For me, the only upside to this pregnancy debacle was that I was able to march down the wedding aisle August 6, 2005, unladen with child. I missed my baby, though. Probably my heavy meds contributed to that failure. My psychiatrist said I would need to switch “cocktails,” if I wanted to have a baby, as some drugs lessen fertility.
“Next time, let me know in advance when you want to get pregnant,” he advised.
As fortune would have it, two months after our stunning wedding my husband deserted me, so I forgot about getting pregnant. The grief and depression I felt over these twin losses, husband and baby, made overeating an attractive option. Already known by many as “Big Vic,” I proceeded to gain an additional 42 pounds, and tipping the scale at 230.
Weight gain or not, I didn’t anticipate that I would be sexless for the next 13 years. At 48, I again felt the urge to procreate. I called a renowned hospital where a family member had had baby success. Like her, I inquired about in vitro fertilization. The staff member’s response? I was too old. Then in 2016, my period dried up, and here I am!
If I can’t produce them, I can still be around them.
A retiree now for two years, I am still involved with children, as a childcare worker at my local food co-op. Although I enjoy my monthly shift, I don’t consider it a pleasure. The kids are great, though, and I love reading to them. Four babies live in my apartment building and on my floor, that I know of.
In addition to working with kids, since Daddy succumbed in 2010, I have been part of my mother’s care team. Mommy bravely struggles with Alzheimer’s disease. One recent Thursday, as I was dressing Mommy for her adult day program, she said to me, “I hope one day your child will dress you.”
Then mother thought for a second and blurted out, “But you don’t have any children, Vicky.”
Despite creating four of us, Mommy has only one grandchild, a handsome and gifted young man who is the light of her life. This family blessing is completing his sophomore year at a great college. My eldest brother served him up. I felt I failed my parents, especially my father, since I didn’t add to the brood.
But Mommy loves me unconditionally, which I do appreciate. At age 91, Mommy is alive and kicking, despite her dementia. She still has frisky quips about and around men! I’m grateful for her graceful presence. She’s my favorite person in the world, which I often tell her. Mommy looks at me with wide eyes when I say that.
This past Mother’s Day, as our custom, my siblings and I are escorted my mother to her longtime worship space, the Episcopal Church of St. Alban the Martyr, in Queens, NY. Mommy donned a white carnation corsage, as her mother has obviously left the planet. I sported a red posy, with my mother wonderfully being an earth-dweller. I enjoyed the church service and chatted afterward with fellow parishioners whom I’ve known for years.
I’m glad I still have Mommy. As my partner often muses, I’m blessed to have my share of home care time with my mother, to be with her now. I agree. But I must admit, it’s become increasingly hard for me. I am grieving Mommy’s loss of ability, her eventual demise, and I’m also not a trained home attendant. It hurts to see her gradual decline, especially that of the past year.
It’s hard to care give to those we deeply love.
But on Mother’s Day, when I was with Mommy, I counted my many blessings, and enjoyed the day. It was a bittersweet experience, as I honored my mother but have no children to cherish me. Back at Mommy’s house that I once again call home, I contacted many of my other “mothers,” relatives and friends who always love and support me. I wished them a wonderful day and am now thankful that Mother’s Day is over!
My next move with children? I will continue with the food co-op childcare assignment, staying put until July, when I’ll jet cross-country to introduce myself to my cousin’s new twins. She has four kids ages 5 and under; remember, this is my favorite age range. What fun I’ll have in cloudy Bothell, Washington, visiting and sharing good picture books with these lovely young relatives, most of whom I’ve only viewed on FaceTime and in photos!
Maybe God left me childless so that I could love ALL his children, young and old?