I want to be a mom. I desperately want to be a mom someday. I was the only girl in my class sophomore year who did. I remember Johnny Souder looking impressed, because he thought since I was a Raging Liberal I wouldn’t, when I said I wanted to have at least three children. I like children. I’m happy when I’m around them, and I like teaching them.
The thing is, with Lyme–and there are other issues, of course, but we’re focusing on Lyme here–that there is a short-term problem, another short-term problem, and a long-term problem. (For me. This is how it’s manifested for me.)
The short-term problem is that if I have a child while infected with Lyme–and I have no idea, and doctors don’t either, how long it will be before I’m not, as it could be a year, it could be five–then my child is infected. Lyme, after all, is in the blood and interacts with just about every system of the body.
I can’t do that. Can’t ever risk having a child who’s born this sick and has to have treatment, because even if when they grow up they won’t remember the chemotherapy–which is the name used in literature for the intensive antibiotic treatment that Lyme requires–that they will still be in pain.
And I couldn’t ever let a child feel this pain. Right now I’m swollen and aching and my legs gave out when I went to stand up. No baby deserves that.
Lyme-infected women are also much more likely to have the following “symptoms”: miscarriage, premature birth, birth defects, stillbirth.
So right about now, if I were pregnant, those would be concerns of mine. Fairly big ones. And yes, I’m 21 and don’t want a child right now. But again–I don’t know when I’ll be “better”. And it’s terrifying to just have that knowledge, for me. Even without it being an issue at the moment, to know that right now I’m a high risk for miscarriage or a stillborn baby or or or.
But in theory, you get better from Lyme disease sooner or later, though I’m a “later” case.
The problem I then have is weight.
If you lose a great deal of weight, your periods stop. They’ll start again, generally, when you gain weight back, but if this is severe enough you will have a difficult time becoming pregnant.
I’ve always been light. I have a hard time putting weight on. Lyme’s made it incredibly worse.
I’m also about 5′8″ and weighed 102 lbs this winter. My periods stopped for about four months. And it’s not the first time it’s happened.
I’m not anorexic. If anyone even jokes about that, I’m offended on my own behalf and on behalf of my friends–and I have them–who have been. Remarks like, “People just think you’re anorexic” are cruel, and I’ve received them from a couple people. Joking, but that doesn’t make it less cruel. I don’t often know what to say to them and just get quiet or smile and bite my tongue, because the urge to rip the person’s head off it strong. And I can’t reply calmly then when I want to scream about how dare someone joke.
But I have this problem, as some anorexics have. And it creates tremendous difficulties. It’s risks of miscarriage or infertility. Right now I have some problems that are potentially serious, if treatable, with my menstrual cycle, and in part it’s because my weight keeps fluctuating. I’m trying to gain weight back; I’m trying to keep it steady. It’s not working very well, and I’m terrified I may someday just lose enough I’ll fuck my system up for good.
And these thoughts hurt. I have some other health conditions and family histories that mean I possibly shouldn’t risk pregnancy anyway and should adopt instead, Lyme entirely aside.
But it hurts anyway to have the can’t possibility, to really not be able to right now. And no matter how many times I tell myself it’s stupid, because I don’t want to be pregnant now, it still hurts. It hurts to know that if I became pregnant even by accident my baby would be very at risk. possibly even if this happened years from now. (It’s funny, but that’s my main concern about premarital sex and the reason I’m least likely to ever have it; not that I’d become pregnant, but that if I did, my baby would be at risk.)
And it’s not something you can just not think about, if you know the risks. Because Lyme touches everything, and you have to be responsible and think out most every day how it’s going to affect you now, and how it might affect you.
And I try not to angst or be overly emotional about it, but if I make a comment about how I might not be able to have children and someone laughs or smiles or jokes about it–and that’s happened with more than one person–then it’s like a punch to the gut. And it’s not that I want lots of “I’m sorry” or even a lot of sympathy, but I don’t want it mocked either. Even when I’m careful to make my own tone light. There’s a difference.
Of course, what do you say to that? To someone saying they might not be able to have children, or might have to decide not to because it’s not safe for them or for child or for both?
I don’t know. I don’t know what I’d say if it wasn’t something I had to think about.
But don’t laugh. Even if someone says it neutrally or lightly, don’t ever laugh. It hurts, and it’s cruel.
I can adopt, of course (if I financially can manage it) and I know that.
It’s just different. And doesn’t make the possibility of can’t hurt any less.
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