I’d always wanted to be a mother. At the age of nine on my birthday, I didn’t ask for barbies or make-up. I didn’t ask for glittery toys, no. Instead I asked only for a baby name book so that I could be well prepared. To pick out the perfect name for our beautiful son or daughter. Circling the ones that I loved the most. I held onto that book for years, praying for the right person to come along to love all the days of my life. And my prayers were certainly answered. I love my husband more and more each passing day.
Following our wedding, I was so eager! Decorating our home (Watching HGTV and diving into Pinterest for inspiration). Cooking breakfasts, lunches and dinners for my husband as I envisioned beginning our family. I had been blessed with the one who I was meant to spend my life with and to begin our little family gave me butterflies and brought tears of happiness to my eyes.
Unexpectedly, just four months later, I was diagnosed with epilepsy. Pills, pills and more pills. Tests, tests and more tests. Seizures of various types. Grand Mal, and Complex Partial seizures. Eventually discovering this was to be Refractory Epilepsy. One tough epilepsy beast. Defying the medications given.
Many different types of medications, many different dosages. Still, the beast just couldn’t be tamed. Side effects were an add-on beast. As if taking on a monster with only a wooden spoon. Time continued to pass as we did all that we could to outsmart this condition. Days, weeks, months and years. All this time, my mind occasionally shifted toward the thought of family.
Doctors assured me that naturally, I could create a family, but there were substantial risks to consider. With continuous seizures great and small, several medications flowing within me, maternal instincts kicked in and I didn’t have to think twice that I would not want to harm our child (Should we be blessed) in any way. So I would just have to place my dream on the back burner.
Days, weeks, months and years continued to pass and the thought never left my mind. In moments alone, I would cup my face and weep. Immediately changing the commercials relating to babies. Averting my eyes away from the baby and children’s section when shopping. As family and friends excitedly announced pregnancies, I could feel my heart cracking a little more each time.
I began to notice that I was allowing epilepsy to steal my joy and that I wasn’t walking in faith. I felt as though my circumstances were seeking the things that I longed for before diagnosis and using them against me to tear me down. When I took notice of this concrete truth, I realized that we can smile and know that we are so much stronger than that.
I came to the conclusion that it was time to unveil my well-hidden emotions with family and friends regarding the pain that I felt and in turn was embraced by compassion and support. It was empowering to allow myself to be vulnerable and open my heart and to lift off a weight so heavy that I carried for so long.
It’s been over a decade now and it’s taken me just about that long to embrace solace. I would be lying if I didn’t say sometimes there’s a breeze in my spirit that aches from time to time, yet I smile.
It was a difficult decision to make for both my husband and I but after much reflection and soul-searching, we made the decision not to have children. Responsibility comes first. With having frequent unpredictable seizures and the occasional requirement for assistance along my journey, it simply isn’t something that may be best for us.
This doesn’t mean that our love for children is lacking or that we can’t be a loving figure in the lives of family or friends. If a couple is placed in a position where they are unable to have children, there are always options to consider to begin a family, this we know.
3 Beautiful Alternatives To Having Children
1. Involve yourself with the children/young adults around you
If you have nieces, and/or nephews you can have a loving and trusting role in their lives. Children are said to benefit from the presence of an additional adult figure who they trust. This can allow the child to have additional resources in the event that it is uncomfortable to discuss something with a parent.
Being an aunt is my favorite title to have; it is the most rewarding experience and from it I have learned so much and there are countless beautiful benefits. You get to brag about them to everyone. I have the cutest niece and the most handsome nephew ever.
You get to watch and be a part of all the milestones of their lives. I’ve witnessed both my niece and nephew take their first steps. I’ve watched them grow and see the astonishment of the simplest and littlest things that we sometimes take for granted. From hearing them mutter small phrases, to learning how to speak sentences. My name has gone from a little babble to just about right. “Tiffany” is a big word to say correctly for a young child learning how to speak so it’s all good!
You also get to watch them learn. They are little sponges, and they pick up on everything. Sure, them asking you “why” about everything can get tiring, but that’s how they learn. They are asking why because they generally don’t know why and you get to help them understand. You are helping them grow. I gladly welcome both my niece and nephews’ why’s. They pick up what they’ve been taught almost instantly. I am one proud Auntie!
All-in-all, my favorite thing about being an aunt; is that they are my motivation. I want to be someone who they look up to. I want to be a role model. A lot of what I do is for them. If one day I can look back on my life and have one of them say that I was an example for them, that will be enough for me.
2. Try mentoring
If you enjoy being there during the development stages, then mentoring can be a strong opportunity for you to pass along your years of wisdom and experience, while helping someone else to evolve into a healthy, happy, confident adult. In Canada, there is the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada Organization, and in the United States, there is Mentoring USA.
With thousands of children already in need of a strong and healthy home, this is a great option for those who wish to be full-time parents (as in more than just a few hours a week). The Adoption Council of Canada and AdoptUSKids both offer more information on how to go through this process.
4. Adopt a pet
There is a unique avenue of parenthood that is always available and many navigate towards should they choose not to have children or are unable to have children and that is adopting a pet! Pets such as a cat or a dog need a loving, forever home where they will be cherished.
My husband and are proud fur-parents to two adorable cats and though it cannot compare to the level of responsibility of taking care of a child, it does give me a feeling of elation in knowing that we have two precious lives that we love dearly to take care of, and in their own adorable way, with snuggles and leg rubs wherever we may be around the house, they show their love in return.
I weep tears of joy that my husband holds my hands to reassure me that even if we never have a child, it will never cause him to love me any less. That he too loves me more each passing day.
I leave the door open for whatever God might have in store but as of now, I have serenity in knowing that I can be a mother-figure in many ways. That my husband and I can be parental-figures in many ways.
If any of you reading this now, are in a similar circumstance, I encourage you to embrace faith. Embrace life to the utmost fullest. Count each and every blessing from tiny to so large. Don’t allow epilepsy to steal your joy or tear you down. Smile and stand in confidence.
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