Given that the title of my blog is all about the big 'ifs' in life (and especially my big 'if), I found Stirrup Queen's Project IF fitting for me, like a well-worn shoe. I have mulled over the possibilities of different outcomes both in the present and the future so many times over that that well-worn shoe no longer has a sole. In fact I found this project so incredibly difficult simply because I had to narrow it down. My mind is full of what ifs. But the one that stood out for me the clearest was one that I am still living.
As many of you know, I lost my Father in February. While my husband and uncle were there in the hospital to help me make the big decisions-whether to continue life saving measures or not, I was alone in that there were no other siblings there to shoulder the same burden. Surrounded by people at his service, I ultimately was the only one who made arrangements, the only one to utter the word 'Dad' on that day. So, it got me to thinking about my son.
What if my son, as possibly an only child for good, is left in the same shoes I was in just a few months ago- standing alongside others during my and my husband's passing, but ultimately alone?
I am an only child also as a result of infertility, conceived also after 5 years, so I well know what it's like to be surrounded by loved ones at such a time in life but to not have a single person who is truly standing anywhere near my shoes, who shares my history, my roots, parented by the same people. Given some of the complications of my childhood and now my position with my parents later in life, I carry a weight that is unique to me alone and I have honestly many times resented that there was never another shoulder to help carry it. What if my son also resents this?
I am truly part of the sandwich generation-caring for a new baby as I look after my disabled Mother and it's exhausting. While I will do my best to avoid creating the same pitfalls for my son that I've recently stumbled over, I wonder: What if he is the only one who can care for us in our elder years? What if he is the only one to make the hard decisions as I reach the end of my days? What if he is the only one standing there in my hospital room wishing he had just one sibling standing beside him?
What if he is the only one?
I will never question how immensly lucky I am that he is here with us. I could have just as easily asked the question: what if I lived in a time when ART didn't exist? I can't begin to imagine that alternate reality. Well, I guess I could; I would just have to imagine life before he existed and yet still there was the possibility. But now that he is here, I look out over my experience as an only child and ache to think that he might find a table of three at Thanksgiving just as lonely as I did, that he might create an imaginary sibling as I did, that he might resent the quiet in his house and all of his unshared toys as I did. These things spell luxuries to some, but it always spelled loneliness for me.
Although I am never under the delusion that just because you have a sibling means you'll be the best of buddies, but to have someone out there in the world who shares a similar history must be of some comfort. I want him to have that. Perhaps even as an only child he will, for I was never surrounded by family, even extended, and I will make sure he is. But just the possibility alone that he might be the only one saddens me for him...and me. And although nowhere near the sadness the 'what if I never have even one child' gave me, it is still painful enough to remind me that infertility is still alive and breathing in my house.
And yet, what if he is not the only one?
Once upon a time, I questioned whether I would ever have a child. Doubted it, even. And it happened. Beyond my wildest dreams and after many years of treatment, it happened. My son is proof for me that despite dashed hope, despite doubts, miracles do occur in this world. Sometimes we just take a longer, harder path to find them. So what if I do get a second miracle? Yes, the odds are still low, but they're still there. I now believe in it more because I have seen what dreams coming true look like. My son is hope restored for me. And if he is an only child for good? So be it. I'll still count myself among the lucky. The 'holy s%$& I just won the friggin' lottery' lucky, and that's quite enough for me.
For more info on infertility and infertility awareness week, go to Resolve's website and learn more!