I am reaching my mid-30s and I love children. I really do love being around other people's kids but I wonder: Would I be a good parent? Would pregnancy affect my IC? Would pregnancy and childbirth bring my IC out of remission? Will I regret not experiencing motherhood ten years from now? Am I selfish for not becoming a mother-like so many articles that I've read and comments I've overheard by women who are 'in the know' with children in tow? Should I proceed with having a child with the knowledge that if I have a daughter that she has a chance of someday having IC? Do I want to be a mother if that includes being one that is more tired or has IC symptoms on a daily basis? And then I wonder if I am just looking for excuses or something to place the blame for my indecision (or decision to either not procreate or to wait to proceate) to have a child solely on being an IC patient.
I can't blame everything on IC but how can living with a painful bladder disease for seven years not color my thoughts with yellow for: proceed with caution? My fiance and I could not be intimate for three and a half of those seven years because of IC and the related conditions of extreme dyspareunia and vulvodynia. I call them our Lost Years. While my IC reared its ugly head so many of our friends got married and began having children. My mailbox (and virtual mailboxes on Facebook and my personal email account) have been flooded with wedding invitations and birth announcements. Many times I choked back tears as I dashed into Target, hoping their bathrooms were clean and open, haphazardly printing off a gift registry list. I have purchased a countless number of onesies, too cute for words teeny socks and paraben free nipples. I have thrown numerous close friends' baby shower's with fun start-to-finish themes from rubber ducks to Noah's Ark, always with the thought in the back of my mind: If I get over IC will I have sex again? Will I experience pregnancy, birth and motherhood?
Those thoughts quickly fled as the months turned into years of cruel celibacy. The silent scream that echoed in my brain for years when ovulation caused cruel labia pain and inflammation-so severe that wearing clothing was as painful as a medieval torture device. Parenthood was the furthest thing from my mind at those moments of taking things one day at a time as I drove from the acupuncturist's office to meditation classes and then home to make my IC friendly meals.
Those Lost Years are behind me now but I still have some residual IC pain and symptoms like a grey ghost lurking in the shadows. It is really a difficult decision to make although I know that I now have less years in front of than behind me to consider motherhood as an option. Ovulation is not the extremely painful monthly reminder loudly announcing that I could have a baby-now is the time that it once was, but it is not a silent event for me and each month I could probably tell you the exact moment that I am ovulating. IC has taught me so much about my body that I am in tune with the subtle hormonal changes that occur throughout the month. I think about pregnancy and motherhood more often than I would care to admit these days. Babies haunt my dreams. Sometimes my cries echo along with theirs as I remember the intense pain of IC.
Maybe someday I will make the choice to become pregnant but for now I am happy bearing the fruit of many years of hard work and delivering words of support to people suffering from IC. It is what I have to offer the world right now and it seems the closest thing to a flesh and blood embodiment of myself. IC awareness and support is a sad but important child in my eyes.