Saturday, April 10, 2010

Decisions, Part I: Letting Go of a Dream?

By now, it's pretty much common knowledge that E was to be an only child. Zachary, while an amazing blessing to our family, was an accident. Not a mistake, but definitely not on purpose. To say he is a mistake would imply that I regret becoming pregnant, and I do not. It just took us by surprise is all. After 8 years of no family planning at all, we just assumed one of us was infertile. We were never diagnosed, and never really gave conception a real effort. But when it just never happened, combined with the memories of the trouble I had with E's pregnancy, we assumed it couldn't, and gave up. Somewhere around my late 20's, we just faced the fact that this is it: this is our family. And moved on.

Then I turned up pregnant. And from then on, we realized, okay, we really are still fertile, so maybe we need to make it so we aren't. 8 years from now, when I am in my early 40's as opposed to my early 30's, I don't want to do this again. So from my first OB appoitment, we have discussed permanent family planning options. We still haven't decided which option is best, just that we are most definitely going to pursue one of them.

Or so I thought...

Last night, J and I were watching tv together, alternating with watching Zachary move around in my belly. I can picture him in there, playing around, and J makes the statement that it is the cutest thing he has seen in a long time. Then he uttered the dreaded sentence:

"You're going to want another one."

Six months ago, I would've killed him for less. But lately, I've been having these thoughts in the back of my mind somewhere, and was actually going to write about it, but needed time to sort through my feelings first. What if he's right?

My upset over becoming pregnant was mainly rooted in fear. When I became pregnant with E, we were dumb newleyweds. Literally. I was a college dropout. J worked at a factory and I was working some dumb dead-end job I hated. And when the pregnancy complications surfaced, we were taken under. But we really didn't have much to lose. This time was different. I had established a career that I love. Our financial picture is completely different. And I bit the bullet and went back to school. I have wanted to be a doctor since I was a kid. Somewhere around my freshman year of high school, Mom got sick and my family was not as well-off financially, and Mom talked me out of it. She told me medical school was for the wealthy, and we were not wealthy anymore. But when I entered the world of healthcare when I went back to school as a non-traditional student, it became obvious to me that it was still what I wanted to do. And when I managed to maintain a 4.0 GPA, even when taking 24 credit hours per semester to get finished quicker, it became obvious that I still had the ability.

It's been difficult. First of all, it took me 3 years of working as an RT to finally go back. I've never failed at anything I have ever really tried. And getting into medical school is difficult for the 20-somethig kid fresh from college. But I am a grown woman with a family and career, making it doubly hard. Can I do it? Yeah, most likely. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, and while I may not be beautiful, academia is my world. I excel there. I have not taken a single college course in my days as a student that has ever been a true challenge. That seems really arrogant, and I realize that, but it is true. But do I still want to?

In order to finish pre-med, I was working anywhere between 60 and 70 hours per week, and would limit myself to 18 credit hours at school. Age was not on my side, and I felt rushed to get finished to be able to make my applications to med schools. I would literally go days without sleep. My routine was like this: 12 hours of work, go to class in scrubs all day, then go home and shower/change and go back to work for 12 more hours. I ate my meals in the hospital cafeteria before my shifts would start. I would nap in the car in-transit, as J would drive me and drop me off everywhere so I could do this. My backpack was always with me, because whenever any free time would come up, I would have to study: at work, waiting on an appointment, in line at the bank, wherever. About every 3rd day of this, I would collapse in exhaustion and have to sleep. My professors would always know what I was doing, so if I had to skip a class to sleep after having been up for 72 hours, they would understand. And my grades were always immaculate, so they couldn't argue, so long as a didn't miss labs or exams. This was what I was doing when I got pregnant.

But long before the 2 pink lines showed up, I was starting to have misgivings. I missed my son. And the seed was planted: what would happen if I didn't do this? What if I just kept my current career and spent my off-time raising my little family? Would I be able to live with that? Would I be happy? Because the truth is, if this is hard, when I get to medical school, it will be a lot worse. And residency. By the time I finished, E would have been 13 years old.

But now there is to be another son. More missed time with another child. And the prospect of becoming a doctor is going to be even more difficult. An lately I have been thinking that maybe it isn't what I want to do anymore. That scares me. It may not seem scary to anyone but me, but when you have dreamed of something your entire life, it is a frightening thought to suddenly change courses. To give it up would not mean I would give up on higher education as a whole. I love my current career, but I don't want to be stagnant in it. The next logical step to advance it would be a business degree, so I could go into upper management. Of course I would follow that with an MBA. My academic prowess would ensure I would do well in that also. It makes sense to me. That way, when I am older and tired of the physical demands of grunt work in my field, of the demands of 12 hour shifts and running to codes, I can change roles.

So now, the choice to make Zachary the last one isn't so obvious anymore. We know now that we can expect all of my pregnancies to go this way. There is no way the endeavor to become a physician could withstand this again. But if I take the other route, maybe we could down the line a few more years.

I need to sleep on it....

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