Today I grieve the loss of a child that has never been.
I have been writing this post in my head for weeks now. I just could never seem to muster up the strength to actually sit down and type it out, but I need to. It's time. If you stick with this, you deserve one of those stickers that say YOU ROCK! on it.
You know when you are growing up and you have this vision of the perfect little family and the life you will have? Ya know the one, married to your best friend, 4 loving children, white picket fence, golden retriever playing in the front yard. Maybe that's just me, but that is what I had always envisioned for my life. And then life actually happens and you're a 24 year old single mother of two struggling to get by. You've exchanged a white picket fence for bars on your windows and that golden retriever is a pit bull that makes you feel safe at night. You cry every night feeling like you have failed at every turn. But you muster on. That was me 4 years ago. Recently out of an abusive relationship and trying to keep the lights on and a roof over our heads. It wasn't easy, and we still struggle, but we've come a long way. Fast forward a few years and I am blessed to say that I have married Warren, my best friend and high school sweetheart, we have an adorable little home in a semi-better neighborhood, and I go to bed every night, thanking God for always providing. I finally felt like we could start our lives. (Like I hadn't been living before that?!)
When we were young teens, Warren and I would talk about the life we would have, the kids we would have, the adventures we would share. We would talk about the beautiful little girl we would have, with bouncing curls and light skin. How much he would spoil and love her. FINALLY, we were going to have the life we had always dreamed of. It had seemed life lifetimes had passed between us and we were ready to make up for lost time.
When we reconnected, everything happened so quickly. Engaged within a year, married the following year. Not long after that we started talking about adding to our family. It was something we went back and forth on, but knew we wanted at some point. But there were things that had to happen first. We needed a bigger vehicle. We were already a family a 4 at this point, and adding another child (or two!), would mean we needed something with 3 rows. A minivan. Ugh, I dreaded the thought. But, it made the most sense. So, a few months ago, we went and got a new Chrysler Town and Country. I will never own another kind of vehicle again. Or at least until my minions are off to college. Seriously, why did I wait so long?! The first thing I bought for it? One of those stick figure families. I put my husband, myself, our two children and our two dogs. But between the kids and the dogs I left a space. A small space where our new baby would now reside on the back of our van. And every time I walked out to our van and saw that small space, that little gap of hope, it made me smile. Okay, van, check. Next, was talking to my doctor.
When my son was born I had an emergency c-section. Things didn't quite go as planned, and it wasn't your run of the mill operation. I wasn't sure WHAT went wrong, but in the days following I could tell something definitely did. Day two post-op, they wanted me walking around on my own, day three, showering. The only problem was that on day four, I still couldn't sit up by myself. Day five is when the doctor who performed the surgery came to visit me. "Your son was sideways. We had to cut higher and deeper than normal. We had to cut into your abdominal muscles, that's why you still aren't able to use them yet. (Information I and the nurses could have used days ago!) You'll never have another vaginal birth again, and any pregnancies in the future will come with risks." And just like that she was gone. I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. I LOVED delivering my daughter. All of it. Every push, every contraction, I cherished the experience. And now I would never have that again. And what do you mean risks?! What kind of risks? I had so many questions and no answers. So, I knew planning on having more children, now was the time to get them.
I called and made an appointment with my OB/GYN. I was so nervous and anxious and excited. I felt butterflies and knots. THIS is the start to our lives, I thought. THIS is where it begins. So, she did the exam, checked my IUD and asked if I was ready to have it removed. I said I wanted to discuss it first, so we talked. Talked about my depression and how I was NOT to stop taking my Zoloft once I became pregnant again, talked about how both of my babies would be in school starting this coming year, life. Then, I wanted to talk about risks. She said she didn't think the risks were very high, but she would double check for me. Oh that was music to my ears. Less than 5% she thought. I liked those odds. She left the room and I felt like I was alone for hours. So many thoughts running through my head. When she returned, her face had changed. I knew something was wrong. "One out of every three." There goes my wind again, what did she say? She repeated it. "One out of every three women, who have had the surgery you have and get pregnant again, die." Those are NOT good odds. I might take those odds in Vegas, but not with my life. She then left the room and let me dress. I couldn't move. I just sat there, paralyzed, realizing that the life I THOUGHT I was finally starting, was over before it ever happened. I immediately started grieving the loss of a child that had never been. I didn't know that was even possible. I took a minute to compose myself, got dressed, and left.
When I got to my car, I broke. I cried for this child that had never been conceived, I cried for the life I was never going to have, I cried for my husband who would never know a child of his own. I cried knowing that my husband, the man I had actually WANTED to go through life with, would never kiss my belly, would never read our daughter a bedtime story while feeling her kick in my belly. He would never teach his son to walk, or say da-da, or catch a ball. He would never dance around with our daughter on his feet, or watch lovingly from the doorway as I sang her to sleep. I cried for the sister and best friend my daughter would never have. I cried, and I cried and I cried. And then it hit me. How was I supposed to go home and tell this man I love, that I could never give him children of his own? How was I supposed to shatter all of his dreams just as quickly as my doctor had shattered mine?! I am broken. How could he still want me after this?! Would he resent me? Leave me? When we vowed, in sickness and in health, till death do us part, THIS was never on my list of 'what if's'. Cancer, sure, car accident, yeah, but this?!
I finally found the strength to drive home and break the news to my husband. And his response was so simple. He didn't need a lot of words to make his point. "Yes, this is hard to hear. But we have been blessed with two amazing children, and as long as I have you, that's all I need." And just like that, it was over. Case closed, move on. And for him, it seemed to be that easy. Why was this so easy for him to accept?! I feel like my child has been ripped from my arms and he's moved on to what's for dinner.
It took me a few weeks to really understand. We already have an amazing life together. More children could add to that, sure, but not having anymore isn't taking anything AWAY from what we already have. And he loves and adores my children as his own. He takes my daughter to daddy/daughter dances and takes my son fishing. The love is abundant in our home and nothing can take that away. My gut still wrenches every time I see a pregnancy announcement or a cute little baby. I don't know if that will ever pass. But I do know that I am going to stop waiting for my life to start and enjoy the one God has already blessed us with. So, for all the mamas-to-be, congratulations! I AM happy for you. Just please don't take offence if my smile seems forced and I'm choking back tears.