By: Melissa Mensavage
When it started
I was sitting there rubbing my cold, clammy feet together waiting in the crisp, mauve-pink paper vest and sheet laying across my lap. I was wondering how long this was going to take and how soon I could get back to the office when the doctor walked in.
We said the usual uncomfortable greetings to each other. I was ready to rush through the visit because I really don’t enjoy the annual gynelogical exams (as if really any woman does!). The doctor then turned the usual visit down another road after reviewing my chart.
“Do you want to have children?” he asked, with his back turned to me, standing at the counter.
Floored, and annoyed, I responded. “Yes. Someday.”
Looking over his glasses at me, smiling, he said, “well now is the time.”
“Now is the time,” I repeated.
“Yes. You are thirty-five -prime time to have a baby -or it will be too late.”
“Yes. Well I need to find the guy,” I said, with a defeated tone.
My heart sank so far into my stomach I thought he was going to see it when he completed the exam. I felt the tears well up behind my eyelids. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that the window of opportunity was getting close to an end. I wasn’t anywhere near close to snagging a husband, let alone a date. How in the world was I going to have a baby?
The appointment came to a close. He wished me luck and left the room. I proceeded to lie on the patient bed for a few more minutes when there was a knock at the door. The nurse wanting to clean the room for the next patient didn’t realize I was still there. Still undressed. I was feeling paralyzed with this information. The nurse was startled, said her pardons, and proceeded to leave when that nagging, uncontrollable, I-am-not-breathing sob escaped. She turned around and reached her hand out to me, with kind words of “his delivery tactic can be very poor sometimes. Do your research on this and call me with any questions,” and lastly, “it’s not over yet; you have time.”
Feeling lethargic, I got dressed, wiped the mascara off my cheeks. I put my game face back on and returned to work, not giving this appointment and conversation another thought. I had big time travel plans for work coming up. I was a part of a high exposure project. I needed to make a name for myself. I let work runneth over everything baby related in my brain.
I was surprised to find myself feeling an emptiness within me a couple of months later, after the project came to a close and I was starting to resume my regular responsibilities. I wrote it off to post-implementation let down/depression. A few more months passed and this emptiness was still lingering. The emptiness would appear in the mornings before I arrived at work, it would appear as a heavy heart and the same lethargy I felt the day of the appointment. I would go through the motions but at a slower pace and internally I felt like I was a zombie.
This was also around the same time Angelina Jolie had just adopted -or was in the process of adopting -a child internationally, as a single parent. I read an article about her decision in one of the fashion magazines that contained the most adorable picture of her and her son. He was sitting on the bed, she was laying with her head in his lap. He had one hand on her face, embracing it, cuddling it and was kissing her forehead. I felt the love. I felt the connection between the two of them. I felt the same tears stream out of my eyes as they did the day of my appointment.
Through the tears and the mascara, I flipped open my laptop and starting searching the internet for international adoptions. Overwhelmed by the countless number of links to adoption agencies, websites with tips on adoptions, and online adoptive parent communities, I closed the laptop and again put it out of my mind.
It had been about eight months since I had completed the international adoption search on the internet. I hadn’t really given the baby thing too much more thought after that. Though I did focus on dating very seriously after that appointment. I joined Match.com and eHarmony.com, and communicated my ass off with dozens of men. I had numerous first dates with all the WRONG men. Date, date, date, date, date, and as I sat there in the bar or restaurant or coffee shop with these men, I knew within ten to twenty minutes of meeting them that they weren’t going to be the next boyfriend or husband, which meant no marriage, no baby. I would completely check out of the date. Trying to find a nice break in the conversation so I could make up an “emergency” and bolt! I was getting super frustrated with the dating process. I had nothing nice to say about it. I then met a man from work who I connected with while traveling in Mexico. I thought he was nice, somewhat funny, cute. He and I were both so cynical about dating. I immediately had us married in my head because now I was 36. One year older, one year closer to that cut-off date.
We had chatted via instant messaging quite a bit, grabbed drinks and dinner a couple of times. It was after one date when he proceeded to kiss me goodnight with chewing tobacco in his mouth that I realized that I was done with dating for a long time. I mean, really, who does that?
As I drove home from the restaurant, I knew I was never going to hear from him again. And it was then the adoption/single parent idea just popped right back into my head and settled in. It felt real and right, comfortable, like an old shirt.
The next day, I opened the laptop and again Googled “international adoption”. This time, I read each link that was returned, one at a time. So much information to process, so much to consider regarding what country, age of child, costs, etc. I wrote down as much as I could on the countries that accept single parents. I put all of this information in my purse and kept it there. Before I did anything I needed to tell my mother. She is my sanity, my insanity, my rock. Whether or not she approved, I was moving forward with becoming a mother.
I picked up the phone, dialed her work number and before she could say hello, I blurted out “I want to adopt a child internationally. I want to be a mom. I want to give a child a good home.”
I was nervous about her response. I expected her to either say nothing or have a negative comment about being a single parent. She had neither. She said, “have you considered having one of your own?”
“Uh, you need a man for that mom. And I don’t have one.” (Hello, mom, obvious? Thanks for rubbing it in!)
“No, you can try using a donor. I am sure there are donor banks somewhere.”
Dumbfounded by her response, my lower jaw hit the desk. After a long pause I said, “Ok, never thought of that. I’ll consider it.”
And that was it. Call was over. I went back to work.
That night, instead of doing more research on adoption, I Googled “donor sperm”.
It came time for my annual appointment. I had a different kind of nervousness going into the office. I wasn’t nervous for the exam as I usually am. I was nervous because I had planned to ask about the donor insemination process. This meant I was going to tell someone about my desires. My unconventional, non-suburbia way of achieving my dreams of being a mother. I was shaking when I wrote it down on the paperwork. I was petrified of the judgment the doctor would have about me wanting to be inseminated using a donor and not having a husband.
I didn’t say a thing when I was called back to the exam room. I let the nurse take my vitals, and when she asked if I had any concerns for the doctor, I bit back quickly, “No!” I know she read the paperwork I had completed when I arrived for my appointment. I didn’t want to tell her; that would make it real, and I wasn’t ready for the judgment.
Then I waited. And waited. It felt like an eternity for the doctor to enter the room. My hands and feet were clammy and I could feel my heart pounding so hard it was coming out of my chest.
Finally, the doctor entered. We exchanged the usual uncomfortable greetings. He flipped open my chart and started mumbling off my vitals, my history and then paused. He sat down in his chair, and turned around to look at me.
“So, you want to have a baby with donor sperm?”
“Yes,” I replied, biting my tongue to a point of bleeding, fighting off the tears, praying my heart stays in my chest.
“Ok. Well, we don’t do that here. You’ll have to see Dr. XYXY. Do you understand the process?”
Fumbling over my words, I said, “Yes … not really …well, no.”
He explained the details in his thick Irananian accent, never making eye contact with me. I kept my head down, repeating “uh-huh”, to all of his statements. It was like neither of us wanted to have the conversation, but he was doing so out of medical obligation and I was doing so because if I didn’t, I’d be letting myself down.
Appointment came to a close and as he walked out of the exam room, he said, “I’ll have the nurse give you Dr. XYXYX’s phone number. Good luck. We’ll see you when you are pregnant.”
No sooner did the door meet the door jam, was I standing over the garbage can vomiting up whatever I had left from breakfast. I couldn’t believe I did it. I actually told someone who could make a difference in this plan, of the plan. An action step completed. An action step that actually had action. No more dreaming about this, no more fantasizing. Actuality. Reality. “Holy Crap Melissa” I said to myself, looking in the mirror on the wall as I pulled myself together.
Standing at the nurse’s counter, with the doctor next to me, he instructed the nurse to provide the phone number and the reason why. I could have fallen over and crawled under the carpet at that point. I thought I was going to get out of the office before it was mentioned. Nurse looked over her glasses at me, and said, “ok” in a disapproving this-isn’t-the-city-this-is-married-with-two-kids-suburbia tone.
I grabbed Dr. XYXYX’s card and hightailed it out of the office. I cried all the way back to my car. How dare she judge me? I thought to myself. She has no idea what I’ve been through in my life. No idea that the quality of man that I find attractive and available today is far less than I had ever imagined. No idea that if I don’t become a mother, it’s a life deal breaker (now, not sure exactly what that means because it’s not like I was going to die if I didn’t become a mother. And there are many avenues of motherhood other than just giving birth to your own biological child).
I put the card in my wallet, where it sat for almost a month before I looked at it again.
By: Melissa Mensavage
Disclaimer, this is about my personal faith. This is not directed toward anyone or their faith choices.
Lately, I’ve been attending church on Sundays with Max. I am driven to go for that inspiration or strength that can help me get through the week. It’s a total drag having to get up early on a Sunday, when lounging around the house seems so much more relaxing; however, knowing the benefit I receive from my attendance and participation is, on most days, worth it.
I was born and raised in a traditional Catholic family. One of the biggest and oldest Catholic churches in Chicago is where my family started almost a century ago (grandparents’ marriage). Growing up I had no appreciation for the church, I just grumbled each and every Sunday. After college I elected not to go, arguing that I didn’t see how the church will help me find a job, pay off my debt, bring me a husband or children. My mother would get so angry with me.
When I was trying to get pregnant a couple of years ago, and I would give my half-hearted prayer each month of ‘please let this work’, I couldn’t understand why my prayers were never answered. I would cry each month, convinced this would never work, I would never become pregnant, nor be a mother. My mother would always say, ‘Be positive. You have to have faith and believe.’ I would just roll my eyes at her.
When I finally did become pregnant, and delivered, I felt something come over me in the delivery room, as the nurse moved the curtain for me to see Max. I felt the power of believing. Looking at my son, all wrinkly and a cross between pink and blue, crying, I was overcome with emotion that I couldn’t believe he was here. I was overcome with emotion that my very little faith that was hanging on by a thread came through for me.
For the last 18 months, every morning I wake and walk into Max’s bedroom and say a prayer of thanks. I get to spend another day with Max. I get to see with my own two eyes that my faith is true.
So I sit here tonight on the eve of a big test tomorrow. I am nervous. I am optimistic. I have been praying. My faith has been helping me build up strength.
I’ve always believed that the fertility doctors can only take the conception process so far and after that it’s all up to God, the universe, or whatever was meant to be will be. And with this, I believe my test results will only provide me with the answers of what I was meant to have.
(But I am still nervous! Keep your fingers crossed!)
By: Melissa Mensavage
I am so glad I wrote about the sleep issues we are experiencing here in my house. The comments received on my last post couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve been feeling pretty bad about all of this sleeping, not sleeping, picking him up, not picking him up or letting him sleep with me. I felt like I was in a battle that one, I didn’t need to be in and two, was only causing pain to both of us.
It’s high time to pick the right solution for us, and the commenters only supported that: “do what is right for you”.
By far this has been the hardest thing I’ve done as a parent. The hardest. The nights that Max would cry almost hysterically were killing me. I can’t sleep when that happens. I’ll go in to his room and try to soothe him. I’ve learned that he’s becoming attached to a certain blanket. I’ve found him several times clutching the blanket for dear life. That breaks my heart. He wants me, and I am not following through with his request, so he is finding comfort in a blanket, hopefully not thinking that is all he has!
I seem to be a lot more lovey-dovey during the waking hours to help with my guilt. Overcompensate, maybe? Ugh.
And so, when I read Madge’s comments about old school, just let him cry it out, the over-tired-all-I-want-is-one-night-of-sleep me can’t help but agree. There is something to be said about letting your kids sleep on their stomachs, crying out, getting vaccinations, etc. I mean, I think I turned out okay.
Barb’s comments were like a giant virtual hug. That made me feel better to know I am not alone and she struggles too.
Stacie’s comments offered an educated approach.
I’ve forewarned Kerrie with this nightmare. Well hopefully it’s not a nightmare for her.
And Tashia is right; maybe Max just needs an extra hug or five minutes to fall back asleep. And the only way to figure it out is determine what plan I will be using and applying it.
I think I have a combination approach. He will still have to learn to soothe himself, so that means he will cry, but there is a threshold that I will not cross because in my mind there is no need for a child to cry for more than 30 minutes. After that I will go in and see him. I will not pick him up. I will show him his books, the musical crib toy, and offer him his blanket. I imagine this will take a couple of weeks.
Today, as I left daycare earlier because Max was sleeping standing up (last night I let him cry it out and I think he protested by not sleeping at all!), I ran into the teacher who was his infant primary caregiver. She gave me a big hug and said ‘it gets better, you are doing the right thing.’ Standing next to us was the Assistant Director and she gave me credit because her three-year-old is still sleeping with her.
I pray (pretty damn hard) that I am doing the right thing.
And to the commenters of my last post, big hugs to you and thanks for sharing.
By: Melissa Mensavage
Right now as I sit here and write this, Max is in his crib crying. We are going through a phase where he will not sleep in his crib. I think I might have created this habit by bringing him into bed with me.
This probably all started with an illness or teething episode months back. I am sure at the time I was thinking (in fact I know I was) that when he starts feeling better, he’ll go back to sleeping in his crib.
I started this horrible habit because, you see, I can’t stand the crying part. It breaks my heart to listen to it, knowing all he wants is to be with me. And here I am being a big meanie, and not caving into his request. I don’t mind that he sleeps in bed with me, but it’s starting to get more difficult. A couple of nights ago I woke to a “face massage”, ie, Max was ever so kindly pressing his feet into my face. There have been the nights where he’s fallen out of my bed, and when I run to that side I can’t see him because the covers went with him.
Needless to say, I am not getting any restful sleep.
So, here we are, going on 10 minutes of non-stop crying. I’ve already been into his room twice now. Once I took him out of the crib and rocked him back to sleep. But as soon as I make any movement towards the crib, Boom! He’s up.
I’ve read a couple of books on sleep training, even talked to the pediatrician. Wait 15 minutes, then go in and talk to him or pick him up but don’t leave the room. My favorite (insert sarcasm because I just don’t see how this works): talk to him from the doorway. I can say I’ve tried these half-heartedly.
I go back and forth in my head with pros and cons about actually following through with the sleep training.
–he gets a restful night of sleep in his own bed
–he’ll know the bedtime routine and that means all night in his room
–he’ll eventually get it that I’m in charge and that he can’t always get what he wants
–he’ll learn how to soothe himself
–I can’t stand the crying
–I don’t like being mean
–I don’t sleep.
Obviously the pros outweigh the cons, but it’s a hard road getting there. Probably doesn’t help that I am not fully committed to this plan. Being the sole parent, I don’t get a break, so bringing him to bed with me is my way of saying, “Honey your turn.” So each night this happens (it’s not every night), I’ll head toward his room in an almost coherent state, pick him up, and we snuggle up together in my big comfy bed. We’ll both fall back asleep almost instantly.
Tonight though, I’m awake and I am off to pick up my little boy to see if I can get him to sleep. Maybe tonight I can pull off the 3AM transfer without a hitch!
By: Melissa Mensavage
As all parents do, I’ve been watching my son Max grow from newborn to infant to mobile infant to newly-minted toddler to officially a toddler. Each phase brings something new – smiling, laughing, sitting up, crawling, walking, talking, walking and talking, walking, talking and mischief!
I’ve enjoyed each phase and have sadness when each passes. Lately I am finding him to be a bit comical, especially when he’s totally into something he’s not supposed to be…you know, like opening the dishwasher and taking out all the dishes or rearranging my shoes in my closet or taking all the toilet paper off the roll. Once I shoo him away, it’s the toilet flushing.
And then I hear him giggle.
And that is when my pursed upper lip relaxes and turns into a wide grin.
Max is starting to reach that mischievous toddler stage where he’s testing the boundaries –where I am saying (or lately, yelling), ‘No! out of the closet!’, or ‘Hot! Do not touch the stove!’ and he proceeds to do just the opposite of what he’s been told. (For the record, the stove is usually not hot, but I want him to know it’s not to be touched per chance one day it is.) I get so frustrated with this behavior that I find I am yelling or just pulling him away from the area of interest. I’ve noticed there are no consequences for him if he doesn’t listen.
I didn’t realize that I had to be the bad cop and the good cop. But I guess that is the rule in a single parent household. So I am starting to feel like a bit of a lunatic because I swing back and forth between bad and good. Max is going to get confused as to what is what if I don’t come up with a solid parenting plan. So how do I do this without always being the bad cop?
I do know that I need more ‘me’ time. I am told that will help keep a part of me balanced where I don’t immediately go to frustration when something is not going as planned.
Maybe we need more structured play time at home, and not ‘hey, you go entertain yourself while Mommy cooks dinner.’ Maybe I need to follow through with consequences.
For example, one day after work, as I was making dinner in the kitchen, I let Max have a cracker. He wanted more, but his mouth was stuffed full of cracker. I had said, ‘No not until you finish what is in your mouth.’
I have no clue where this came from; he proceeded to spit what was in his mouth on to the floor.
(I laughed to myself for a minute, not facing him of course.)
I then said, ‘No more crackers for you.’ That lasted maybe 10 minutes and then I gave him another cracker because dinner wasn’t ready.
See? Perfect scenario where good cop and bad cop were at odds with one another. I don’t want him to starve, but he needs to learn ‘one at a time’.
I need a plan that covers a good balance between good and bad. A plan that I can stick to and right now I am just about clueless on how to acquire such a plan. It might be time for a phone call to my sister, or a meeting with some of the teachers at daycare for their opinion and guidance.
(Notice I am not going to the Internet? Yes, making progress here, making progress!)
By: Melissa Mensavage
It’s a wonderful thing.
It’s what everyone wants (well, most everyone).
It’s surely what I want, second to being a mother. Yet, I am single. Have been for a very long time.
I surely don’t want to be single. I want to have companionship. I want to have someone call me regularly to say hello, because they want to and look forward to the next time we see each other. I want to share my life with someone. I want to be a good role model for Max, especially when it comes to relationships. I know you don’t need a relationship to be a good role model, but this here is what’s been happening in my house as of late, ‘Oh you wont eat cantaloupe? I see. Well Mommy is eating cantaloupe. Mmmm-mmmm. Oh, now you eat cantaloupe. Ok, I get it.’
I surely don’t want Max to feel like there is something wrong with his mother. I will tell him the truth one day, the right day, about how he came about. I am afraid in that message will be his mother wasn’t capable or didn’t know how to have a relationship.
I’ve been mentioning the cute guy at work. Well, I think that’s just about it, he’s cute. We’ve been working not-so-close together now for a little over a year, and there has never been any personal dialogue between us. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve asked. Oh how I’ve asked.
‘How was your weekend?’
‘Big plans for the holiday?’
‘Did you see the game?’
I get a response, that’s not the problem. It’s the missing return gesture. You know where people usually say, ‘My weekend was good thanks. How about yours?’
Yeah, we are talking dead air.
So how does one get to know another if there is no type of conversation? I would even settle for work conversation (temporarily, of course). Here’s the thing that kind of kicks me in the head: The dude has been asking about me to another co-worker.
‘Is Melissa going to the conference?’
‘Will Melissa be joining us for dinner?’
‘So Melissa has no experience with this program? And will need training?’
Yes, my poor friend Natalie. She is tired of fielding questions on me. I think she bangs her head on her desk just as much as I do.
The week before Labor Day, the cute guy and I had a meeting to go over this new software we are using here at work. He came to my desk, we sat right next to each other and he never asked me one single question.
Then we ran into each other on the way out of the building last week, and again, dead air.
I’m already exhausted.
I don’t have time to be the ‘on’ person all the time. I don’t have the energy either. (I don’t even have the energy to pick up the gazillion toys that seem to make their way into my home!) So one side of my brain says, ‘if he can’t step out of his shell to get to know someone, he isn’t for you.’ The other side of my brain says, ‘well maybe this is just it. Maybe I am supposed to be the outgoing one of the partnership.’
Then my heart interrupts the two and says, ‘C’mon! This would be great! It’s what you want! Just make it work!’ Then sanity has to add its two cents, and says, ‘There is a reason why the dude is still single. You deserve someone who can be the ‘on’ person half of the time. And don’t forget, he has to make you smile and laugh.’
Lots of emotions, lots of thoughts, and it always comes back to sanity. I try remain objective about the situation, remove the emotion from it, but when it’s so important to me, the above internal dialogue is probably seen by others. Not good. Especially if it’s a person of interest who is seeing it.
As of last Friday, I ended the chapter with the cute guy. That has been hard, because he has given me hope that it could be possible to have it all – motherhood, love, and career. I think I am more upset with the missed opportunity than with anything else. And I wonder will another cute guy come along? Will he be the right one?
By: Melissa Mensavage
Just like that. Complete a couple of tests, some paperwork, and before you know it you are a parent of two.
Ok, not really. I am not there yet, the parent of two part, but surely well on my way. The bus has left the station; I am on it, sitting in my seat comfortably reading. Yet, I feel like I am still at the station, debating if I should board.
I keep telling myself, ‘go through the motions, and decide later’ because I am so afraid that if I don’t do this I will have regrets later in life. I know everything will work out the way it’s supposed to, but I am almost paralyzed with fear.
I should probably back up and share that I met with the fertility doctor. He advised that, before he could recommend a treatment plan, he needed some test results. I had the blood work done, and the whole “let’s see what your insides look like” test (that was special). My follow-up consultation started with this: “I am very pleased with all your numbers and results.”
So, it wasn’t too long ago I was writing about the fear that I was “expired”, but as I sat in the leather chair across the standard office desk with a giant uterus staring down at me, I am told, “It’s a Go!”
Thirty-nine, going on forty and I could possibly be having another baby. How do I feel about this? Where is that gut feeling of -absolutely, yes, two kids -that I had not too long ago? Why has fear magnified itself several times?
The list of questions I run through every day in my head: How can I afford another child? How will I be able to do all the things I need to do with Max with another child? How do I split myself in two to give each the right amount of time and energy for them to have a good life? How do I find time for myself? And the big one: How will I ever date? Who dates single mothers of two kids?
A bit of deja vu really, because I had the same fear prior to Max and basically the same questions but it was more – how am I going to adjust going from single to a party of two in my life, my house, etc.? And guess what? It’s totally awesome. I even had a couple of not-so-great dates along the way which means people date single parents.
My fear has started to interfere with my ability to communicate effectively with friends. It has me wondering if my family really supports this decision. It’s a weight on my shoulders that is really starting to hurt. I am struggling to fight back so that I can stay on track. Each day I try to conquer the fear by believing my body is capable of producing a healthy child. I know that positive affirmations are always helpful – regardless if they come from me or from a support system. Keeping my bucket filled with rain drops will keep the fear at bay.
Tonight, as I treated myself to a shot of fertility drugs, I questioned it, however I know in my heart I am doing the right thing for me. Funny, when I sit back and really listen to my heart, I am not afraid.
By: Melissa Mensavage
Well here it is, the eve of the consultation appointment with the fertility doctor and I have been doing ‘how am I feeling’ checks all day because I am not sure what to think, expect or feel at this moment. Am I nervous of what he will say about the chances for baby #2? Am I scared I will get the expiration stamp? What about this cute guy at work? What about Max?
Apparently I have more questions than I thought, yet surprisingly I am much calmer about this ‘decision making’ appointment tomorrow than I have been in the past. Why?
When I met with the doctor in the beginning of July, expressing my desire for another baby and asking for his assistance, I left the appointment feeling just the same as I do now, calm. I was given a list of tests that he wanted me to do before he could make a final analysis of Baby #2 feasibility and before I left the office all the appointments were made.
Over the last month I’ve basically gone through the motions of these tests and as I received each of the results, I’ve felt no emotion. I recall each time I received test results when I was trying for my son, I felt as if I was on a roller coaster – up, down, up, down and a couple of circles. I recall getting frustrated with a couple of the nurses, as they would always say, ‘looks good’, or ‘everything’s normal’. I would turn to my trusty Internet to find the answers. (In case you didn’t know by now, the Internet + Me = best friends. Right.)
And maybe this is why I am surprisingly calm? Because I know that no matter what I find on the Internet, the doctor’s analysis is what matters the most? Because I have the experience of going through these tests and understanding their results, and because I know what to expect from the staff at the doctor’s office? I am thinking all three apply here.
I also think a huge factor in all of this calmness is my son, Max. I love this little guy more than life itself and all I want to do is make sure he has a good life. For me and my family, more than one sibling is best. Yet, right after that thought comes ‘He’s perfect and beautiful’, meaning, if it ends up being just Max, it’s okay.
And finally, can we add a sprinkle of the cute guy to the mix here? Nothing major has happened, but obvious hints have been dropped – purposely changing seats in a meeting, asking if I was attending an after-work dinner. I question myself on Baby #2 because of this – how can I date and get pregnant at the same time (not by the same person!)? I suspect a separate blog post is required for this subject because it makes my head hurt trying to figure it out – and maybe that’s just what I should not do.
So tomorrow during my lunch hour I am meeting with the doctor face-to-face. I suspect I’ll get a nervous feeling in my stomach as I walk into the office. I’ll probably be there for a good 30 minutes as I always ask questions. And when I leave I’ll have a good idea of my next life steps, feeling surprisingly calm, I’ll bet.
By: Melissa Mensavage
I’ll never forget; it was October 25th, 2010 when I felt the first tooth starting to break through the bottom gum line. I was shocked. I knew the teeth were going to come, but had no clue on the whole process –from providing relief to behavior changes. In typical ‘I need answers now’ fashion, I enlisted the internet, and my mother for the answers. Both of which can be helpful, yet never make me feel confident in what to do.
Recently, I pulled out my list of Single Mother by Choice Pros/Cons I put together during the ‘thinking’ era to see if there was an entry for illnesses/teething. Nope. Not sure why I didn’t think of that because it’s a big part of raising a child and can be serious at times. Luckily, Max has only been plagued with the usual colds, flus, and typical teething symptoms. However, what I have been plagued with is a complete different story.
Guilt, anxiety, insecurity, and clueless is a good summary. Each time Max has something or does something I am at the laptop googl’ing. In one of my recent google searches on the effects of ingesting Comet, I had a thought, would I be doing this if I were married?
After the Comet crisis was diverted and I was relaxing in bed, that ‘married’ thought came back. I thought back on all my worries, and noticed a pattern – googl’ing and calling mother and/or sister. It became clear I am a single parent. And even more clear I don’t have a partner to bounce my concerns off of. I don’t have someone to say, ‘you cant catch cerebral palsy’. I don’t have someone that will hug me during a meltdown because parenting is an overwhelming job.
Technically I do – my mother and my sister – but it’s not the same as having a husband (or even a boyfriend), someone who is there with you. Someone that knows you so well they refrain from laughing when you say, ‘he’s behind in his raspberries’.
I knew when I committed to becoming a single parent I would be the responsible party for raising the child, teaching them to make good decisions and supporting them through life’s lessons. What I didn’t know was all the stress and anxiety that comes along with it. I am okay with doing all the work, and slowly learning how to deal with the stress and anxiety by myself.
When I find parenting challenging, I pray for strength to get through it. I have been weeding my way through the illnesses and teething, obsessively scouring the internet, exceeding my minutes on my phone with all the calls to Mom, and sister and sure enough, the worries subside. It’s like a cycle or a dance I go through each time, only to find that things are normal, development is normal and that I am suffering from new parent syndrome, with a splash of single.
(FYI – ingesting Comet, though highly not recommended, has mild effects and usually passes in a couple of hours. Thankfully we did not experience any of that!)
By: Melissa Mensavage
Today is July 4th, Independence Day. It was on an evening stroll through the neighborhood that I really thought about July 4th, and what it meant to me.
I live in a diverse neighborhood, a nice combination of African American, Caucasian, Hispanic, and Polish. I love hearing the different dialects when I am walking and greeting those that I see. I have always wondered what brought these folks to America, thinking, “What opportunity was so great they willingly packed up and moved many miles away from home?”
I cannot figure out these people’s stories by how they maintain their home, or how often I see them. I do know that America naturally offers opportunities I know might not be available elsewhere.
I researched single parenting for months before making the decision to pursue it. I learned about single parenting in not only America but across the globe. I learned that, while it is not taboo in many other countries, the opportunities and resources available elsewhere were not as great as in America.
In my thought process tonight, I was having a deep feeling of appreciation and respect for Independence Day. Appreciation and respect for all the men and women who have been and currently are defending our country. Appreciation and respect for history, as it set the path for where we are today.
I found myself being thankful for the resources – donor banks, donors, support groups, doctors, nurses – which allow me to seize the single mother by choice opportunity. Though our healthcare system needs help, I am thankful that I have the insurance to help offset the costs of conceiving.
I am thankful that women can hold executive, management, or leadership positions. During my travels for work in Budapest, I was asked by another woman, “how is it that you are in your position? Hungarian women don’t have that opportunity.” I think about that statement quite a bit with mixed emotions – sadness for those women, appreciation for America.
I am thankful that I own my home. I know from all my travels around the world that housing is expensive and many people cannot afford to own a home.
I have quite a bit of pride for America. It doubled when my son was born, because without this country, I wouldn’t hear the word, ‘ma-ma’, coming out of someone’s little mouth while reaching up for me.
Thank you, America.