I had two beautiful babies fairly close together. It was chaotic, but because I tend to fill my life with chaos and then complain about it, I decided while they were both still young that it was a good idea to add a third into the mix. My husband and I got pregnant as planned, so as you can imagine, I was completely and utterly floored when, twelve weeks later, the technician couldn’t find a heartbeat during my scheduled ultrasound. I didn’t get it, it didn’t make sense. That wasn’t supposed to be a part of my story. It took some time, but I eventually allowed myself to accept that I was a part of the one in four club. It bummed me out but it helped to know that I was merely one of many who had undergone the name sadness. When I got pregnant again, I was smarter. I didn’t share the news as readily, I didn’t name the baby. Still, I was certain that this one was the one. When, at this twelve week ultrasound, the technician could not find a heartbeat again, I was pretty sure I was just reliving a bad dream and that everything would be okay once I woke up. Things like that don’t happen twice in a row. But they do, and they happened a third time that year, too.
I won’t go into the emotional aftermath of that kind of turmoil–if you’ve been there, you already know, and if you haven’t, I don’t wish it on you–but I will say that it involves a lot of ups and downs and ins and outs, at the end of which you’re left still wanting the thing you do not have: A baby.
My husband and I stopped actively trying, but we didn’t actively not try, either. We were mutually in agreement that we would take life as it came, one way or another. I assumed that everything would eventually work out as we hoped, bad things don’t happen in fours.
Maybe not. But, that didn’t mean that we would be blessed with another pregnancy, either. With each year that passed came a new reason to convince myself that I did not need another child in my life. For one thing, I said, the world population doesn’t need another mouth to feed. For another, it would be way too expensive to have another child to raise–I mean, we’d have to move houses for sure, and what if that meant a new school zone? Also, babies are bad for the environment and we are most definitely in an environmental crisis. My hypothyroidism was so out of whack with each pregnancy that the entire household suffered, I needed to take my health and the safety of my family to heart. Kids can make me grumpy, especially extroverted, always clingy, always needy kids that my introverted self hides from in the bathroom. Why torture myself? Plus, let’s be honest, I’m forty now. Enough years have gone by that my kids are finally semi-self sufficient. Do I really want to backtrack on all that and give up this taste of freedom and independence? I mean, that is just crazy talk. And lastly, I’m so tired of the question mark at the end of each month…Am I? Aren’t I? Why aren’t I? I feel done with the mental and emotional games, it became time to finally put this baby-making nonsense to rest. Just before the covid outbreak I made the decision to talk to my doctor about more permanent solutions.
My body and my mind are becoming aligned on getting what they need at this point in my life. I’m eating well, I’m exercising. I’ve been implementing a daily meditation practice, which so far consists of me telling my mind to relax a thousand times before I give up, but I made a promise to myself that I would persevere and I’m dedicated to that promise. I’m the best me that I have been in years. We’re good.
But, the heart wants what the heart wants, and the heart still wants a child. Even if I can never have it, even if it’s just something I need to surrender to the universe as a hope that will never be realized. Even if I go the rest of my life with life as it is, which is already amazing in so many ways, there will always be a piece of my heart that is held back, reserved especially for the one that will never come. I’ve been protecting this space for years, keeping it secretly hidden, holding it in the same way I held my pregnancies, and with the same care. Nobody else knows about it. From the outside, I’m sure I look whole. But, it’s there. I am telling you that it’s there. And it will always remain there.
At some point we all have things we need to walk away from, things that are beyond our control, things that are shitty or things that don’t serve us. The desire for another child is one of these things. I have to walk away, I have to say goodbye.
In saying goodbye to the child I never had, I am also accepting that I will forever be living with this divide between my mind, body and heart. I’ve been striving to synchronize them, to become whole despite the missing piece, but I’ve come to understand that it isn’t possible. The best I can do is accept it with grace, then shut the door. I think this is what it means to surrender. It isn’t comfortable. It’s just something you sometimes have to do.