The sorrow of a childless ultrasound test

Dear friends,

This morning, I’m going to the hospital for an ultrasound test. It’s the same kind of test women look forward to having to see their babies growing in the womb. Oh look, there’s his fingers. I can hear his heartbeat! They go home with a picture to show everyone. Of course sometimes, the test turns tragic, showing no baby or a baby that is deformed or has died. To me that’s worse than never having a baby.

But it’s not that kind of ultrasound. Whatever else might be inside me, there is no baby. The technicians will be seeking the cause of my persistent stomach problems. I’m torn between hoping they find something—finally an answer!—and hoping they don’t. At least I’m pretty sure this will not be the kind where they stick a wand up your vagina. Been there, hated that. Let’s keep it all on the outside, please.

It’s not my first ultrasound, but I’m always a little sad that I’ll never have the one where I see my baby. Not that I’d know what it was. In my experience, it’s all a bunch of fuzzy dots that don’t make any sense to me. When I did this three years ago for basically the same problem, it was a fascinating tour through my parts. There’s your liver, there’s your gall bladder, there’s your kidneys . . .

Anyway. I’ll be going alone. I won’t be anesthetized, so there’s no reason I can’t drive myself. But this morning, hungry from fasting, headachy from lack of caffeine, and a bit scared of what they might find, I wish I had someone to hold my hand. I wish my late husband Fred was still here.

Lately I’ve been getting a taste of what it’s like to be single and childless at 66. I drove myself to the ER when this started with incredible pain one night in December. A friend took me for my colonoscopy/endoscopy three weeks ago. Afterward, I was back to being alone, even though the instructions said to have someone with you for 24 hours. There is no family member nearby to whom it would naturally fall to take care of me.

Would having children solve this? Not really. My friends’ grown children live far away, work full-time and are busy with their own children. Besides, I’m not sure I’d want a grown-up child treating me like an old person and telling me what to do. In fact, I’m sure I don’t want that.

So what am I saying? Having an ultrasound for something other than a baby makes me sad. And build up your support network, whether it be family or friends. No matter how independent you think you are, you’re going to need it.

I’m confident that whatever they find, I’ll be okay. If I can survive my daily speed walks with Annie up and down the hills here, I’m pretty healthy. We both are.

As always, I cherish your comments.

 

What if you never find that special someone?

We often talk here about having found a partner who is great in every way except for being unable or unwilling to have children. But what about those people who don’t find that special someone? I just read an article by Mandy Appleyard from the UK that talks about her experience with this. I really recommend you read “The Love I’ll Never Know.” Appleyard talks about the cruel comments people make. They assume that she chose career over family and that’s why she has neither husband nor children. But her relationships never worked out. She was even married for a while and had two miscarriages before that marriage failed. People don’t understand. She talks about how she copes by enjoying her career and transferring her love to her godchildren. I think we can all identify with a lot of what she says. Read the comments, too. It’s unbelievable how thick-headed some people can be.

Most of us somehow find a partner along the way, but not everyone does. Among the people I interviewed for my book was a nurse named Barbara who had never married. Yes, she had a career, but that career didn’t fill the empty place in her heart. For a while she worked in the maternity ward and she would weep as she delivered newborns from the nursery to their mothers. Would she have liked to have a family? Yes. But it just didn’t happen.

I was lucky enough to be married twice to men I loved. At least on the surface, I had the beginnings of a family. If we had agreed to have children, we could have. The problem was that we didn’t agree.

There’s no guarantee in this world that we’re going to find that special someone. I’m amazed that most of us do end up getting married at least once. But what if it never happens? What if every relationship goes bad and we’re still alone as our fertility dries up? Use a sperm donor or adopt, some people suggest, as if those are easy options. They’re not, and I don’t think we can blame anyone who decides not to try single parenting.

For those of us who don’t have children but do have partners or spouses whom we love, I think we should give them a big hug and thank them for being there. It could be worse.

What do you think about all this?