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Factory closings February 1, 2014

Posted by Judy in Musings.
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Pregnancy and childbirth have always come very easily to me. I’m someone who has relatively easy and blessedly uncomplicated pregnancies. Childbirth has always been fast and uncomplicated. (Notice I didn’t say easy, just fast.) DH started calling me a veritable baby-making factory after baby #2, who made her entrance so quickly that he had to do the baby-catching. Or maybe it was shortly after my first delivery when my mom said “Wow! You sound so great! You don’t sound like you just delivered a baby!” I don’t actually remember when the moniker came to be, but it appeared and it has stuck ever since.

This baby-making factory has been fully functional and has been cranking out healthy babies for over 7 years now. We had started slowing down the production and had thought about closing up the factory, but no final decisions had been made. No decisions, that is, until the arrival of the breast cancer diagnosis, which brought the production at the factory to a screeching halt. The workers were sent home and the baby-making factory was permanently closed.

“But wait,” you say. “I know or have heard of people having babies after going through breast cancer treatment.” Yes, it is possible to still have babies after radiation and even after chemo. But here’s the thing. I have an estrogen receptor positive cancer. When a woman is pregnant, the levels of estrogen in her body go through the roof. In my case, that skyrocketing estrogen number would give the estrogen receptor positive cancer a REALLY good reason to start cranking out cancer cells like mad, potentially creating another tumor. It might be in the breast, or this time, it might travel somewhere else. While some women are willing to take that risk, at this point in my life, with four children, DH and I are not willing to take on that risk. In addition, I’ll have to be on anti-estrogen therapy for five years. This will do two things:

1) Significantly lower the estrogen levels in my body, which could send me into early menopause, thus making it impossible to re-open the factory.
2) Bring me to the ripe old age of 42, thus making me not want to re-open the factory given that I have no desire to be having babies at that age.

So yes, the factory is permanently closed.

The knowledge that I would have to wean the Little Boss was bad enough. Knowing that there was no chance of bringing any more little humans into the world was heartbreaking. Some people might be thinking, “But you have four already. Isn’t that enough?” And to that I say, DH and I make amazing little humans. Quite frankly, this world needs more amazing humans.

Up until now, I’ve been choosing to not think about or deal with the heartbreak. This hasn’t been too hard given that I’ve been busy going to the doctor and figuring out how to deal with the cancer. It’s now time to bring the emotions to the forefront and to deal with them. I have realized that the best way to deal with them is to start clearing out baby stuff. We’ll likely be selling off all of the baby gear and toys. Then there’s the clothing. We have TONS of baby and little kid clothing. I’ve saved pretty much everything because we always knew there would be more little humans. The boys clothing, stored across 3.5 dressers, is getting lots of use, seeing as we have three boys. The girls clothing, not so much. Two medium moving boxes and a giant suitcase are jam-packed with 5 years worth of little girl clothing. I held on to it since we never knew if the next little human would be a boy or a girl. Now, there is no logical reason for keeping the clothing around. I finally forced myself to start going through the clothing. With DD’s help, we separated them into piles: freecycle, consignment store, friends. Having DD’s help has been so valuable in the grieving process. She has been so very excited to give her clothing away. “Oooh! I remember that shirt! Let’s give that to Julie.” “My butterfly skirt! That one should go to Grace.” Her excitement has been infectious and has made it easier to say goodbye to not just the clothing, but also to the idea of more babies.

I still have more work to do. There are many more boxes of clothing to go through and a whole lot of tragic emotions to deal with. I am, however, starting to see the beginnings of a new factory, one I think I’ll call the energized-mom factory. In this factory, as a well-rested mom, I will have time and energy to do so many things:

– make all sorts of clothing for the babes and for me
– teach the babes how to use their sewing machines
– cultivate my budding gourmet foodie interests
– become a better homeschool teacher
– actually practice and get my voice back in shape
– Most importantly, I’ll have the time and energy to be more present in the lives of my children and spouse, and in my own life.

Yes, I’m still going to mourn the closing of the baby-making factory. But I’m also going to celebrate the opening of the energized-mom factory.


1. Faith Still - February 2, 2014

I haven’t had to close the factory yet, but we are the same age and I know that in the not so distant future I will have to close the baby factory too. I want to have another child and I am afraid I will miss knowing that I can, when the factory does shut down. I had all natural births too and they were sometimes relatively easy (like maybe 30 minutes total labor – hard to tell I was in labor) and sometimes hard – that first one I labored at home for hours. I love birth (the best memories are the miraculous moments when you first meet your precious babies) and I mostly like pregnancy. Although each pregnancy seemed a little harder than the previous ones.

There is something miraculous about pregnancy and birth and you are special for seeing it for what it is – a miracle. I am sorry that you have had to close that chapter of your life prematurely, but you truly appreciate the love and joy of pregnancy, birth, and children and that is special – no one (not even cancer) can take that from you.

Judy - February 2, 2014

That was beautifully said, Faith. Thank you!

2. rlape85 - February 2, 2014

Sweetie you are an awesome mom! Your strong faith will carry you through every step of the way. It is ok to let it ache. I am so glad you have DH to support you. I know that every baby has been a blessing in your life and with God’s grace you will continue experiencing many more moments of joy with your kids. God be with you. Love you lots.

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