It was likely the sentiment of the holidays that brought it back up, or perhaps it was simply the fact that my heart is still broken, but I have relapsed into the baby blues. A sadness, yearning for another baby haunts me, part pain for the pregnancy I lost and part desire to have another child. Some days it is only a pebble in my shoe, I am aware it’s there but it doesn’t stop me from going about my day. Other times it’s a rain cloud, hovering over me and dripping sorrow into every part of my day. Today is a rain cloud day.
For so long I was fine with the idea of only one child; my pregnancy was a nightmare and my emergency C-section was not my plan, but once the urge for another baby came, it may have ebbed and flowed but it never went away. And the hope that skyrocketed and then plummeted so quickly with my miscarriage broke me in a way I never could have expected. I honestly don’t think I will ever “get over” my lost pregnancy. I remember waiting in the ER for a doctor after the bleeding started and thinking over and over “This was my last chance”. That fear became a reality: the baby was gone and no other pregnancy happened. Eventually, with my job search and big move, I stopped trying. It no longer was an option for a lot of reasons. A second child now would be very hard on both my single income budget and struggling marriage. After only a few months in my new position, I have very little accrued paid sick leave, certainly not enough to take maternity leave. Time is not on my side, at 35 I am medically considered the dreaded “advantage maternal age”. I no longer have a home with an extra bedroom and all my baby things were passed on or sold for our move across the country. But the facts don’t seem to change my feelings on the topic. I have tried and failed to rationalize away my want for another child.
Right before the Christmas break I attended a holiday party with my new co-workers. As expected, we made small talk of upcoming plans and family gatherings. While telling us of his upcoming trip to Chicago, one co-worker shared how he was an only child and still gives his mother a hard time about it. He talked about feeling like he missed out on siblings, though he has many people in his life he is close with and would visit during the break. Of course, he did not know my story nor could he have guessed how much this would strike a nerve. But suddenly for the first time, I pictured Reagan as an adult returning home for a visit to just me. No sister. No brother. No sibling time. No nieces or nephews. This mental picture broke my heart all over again. Would that really be enough for her? Would it still be special and fun to come home to just parents? I already had guilt about her lack of playmates at home, now I realized in some ways she would never outgrow that. So much of the joy in my adult life comes from time with my sister and nieces, what could replace that for Reagan?
For a while we had hoped adoption would be an option, and perhaps one day it still will be, but for now it is out of reach financially. We even dropped the idea to foster because though it could lead to adoption, it also might not and I would have to be invested in the primary focus of reuniting families (not adding to my own).
Opening up about my miscarriage to others has definitely lead me to a support system. It has sadly happened to many that I know, we share a horrible bond. And this year I have seen a lot of rainbow babies, born to friends who had previously lost a pregnancy. Though I am thrilled for them, I am starting to feel more and more alone in the fact that there won’t be another baby for me. In part, I won’t be able to heal by welcoming another child. I am becoming more isolated in the fact that my miscarriage was my last pregnancy, and I am still left with wanting what I lost. My mother has assured me that every mother feels sadness and pain at realizing the season of babies is over but my burden feels much heavier and deeper than that. I am not sad, I am broken.
The spark in this darkness has come during the times I find myself huddled with another friend sharing tears over similar pain but using the moment to also talk about God. Though many friends let me speak about my loss, it has been the ones who have experienced it as well that truly understand the hurt. When I share my feelings about the painful experience and also show them God deep inside my broken heart I believe it has allowed me to share my beliefs in a deeper, more impactful way. It is no small thing to bring Jesus into that conversation, and I hope it leaves a deep imprint on others the way I have allowed God to stay with me.
My daughter is a real blessing, one that I appreciate all the more now. And I know she feels loved by her family and has two amazing twin cousins that she will share a childhood with. Being an only child won’t mean she suffers but I can’t deny that she will be missing the unique bond of a sibling and I can’t deny the ongoing desire of my heart. This is a challenging chapter in my life as I learn to be at peace with what I lost and find appreciation for the family I have. I still struggle, how does one accept there will not be another baby?