Before Dave and I even dated, I was convinced that I couldn’t have children. In fact, I told him so with such surety he was convinced it was a medical reality way before we discovered it really was. Then a few months after we got married, I woke up pregnant. My boobs hurt, my face exploded, and I was walking around with a little smile on my face for a week or two – until the day of a family shindig, when I lost it. It was that simple: one minute I was pregnant, the next minute I was not – in a very messy, uncomfortable way.
We weren’t surprised; we were sad. I didn’t feel fragile, but I did feel very brittle – like I could shatter if somebody said the wrong thing to me. But we went. We went to the party and looked at all the smiling faces, and in every photo I am pale and sitting down. It never occurred to us not to go. Miscarriage is a fact of life. We’d have another chance. And we have.
I’ve lost dozens of pregnancies, both medically induced and otherwise. When my gynecologist told me it would take an act of God for me to successfully carry a pregnancy, I was honestly relieved. The hope was killing me – not the losses. Let’s be clear though – those stung too. Our final round of IVF ended with silence on the sonogram instead of a heartbeat, followed by a D&C. We thought I’d carried a pregnancy for months, and in a way I had. That was the end of it for me.
We have since adopted two incredible children. We feel so satisfied and joyful as a family that it’s never occurred to me to want more than that, and the
Act of God
statement really took it off my plate. Yet I woke up today and my boobs hurt and my face had exploded. I’m sure my mom’s doing a happy dance but Dave and I were more realistic. We know it’s a matter of when we lose this pregnancy not if, and we don’t get too emotionally involved any more. To top it off, we have two children under two. This is not an ideal time for a random act of God. So I muse: I think about what it would be like, when I’d deliver, what ages are children would be, how crazy we’d get and how exhausted we’d be. And I wait for the inevitable loss.
I won’t shatter, and only a tiny bit of myself will even be sad. I know what it will feel like: the tiny twinge followed by major discomfort for a few days. Dave will bring me flowers. I’ll drown myself in coffee and wine and soft cheeses. I’ll take care of our beautiful children and count myself the luckiest mother in the world. (I am, you know.) And I’ll wait for the next time my boobs hurt and my face explodes. It’s not every miscarriage: I’ve only had 3-4 like that. I adapt and have learned to approach chemical pregnancies as a pragmatist. Besides, what could be more comforting than being with our kids?
When people ask me if I’m pregnant, if I want to be pregnant, if I can be pregnant, this is what I think of. This is how I experience pregnancy. The anguish of yearning with no possibility of success has gone. I have had success; untraditionally and fabulously. My children came with relatives and stories and joy. Our path to parenthood instilled gratitude on a level I wouldn’t have experienced if things had gone differently. I have no regrets or disappointments. Dave doesn’t either. It helps that he thought I was infertile before I knew I was infertile. He fell in love with me anyway, which was a huge comfort to me when we found out the limitations of my body. We’re both in love with our kids, in love with each other and with our life. So really, who’s suffering? But I could do without the sore boobs as a reminder of how far we’ve come.
I chose to withhold this post until after the loss, so as to avoid chirpy
conversations. We are again without bean and are fine. I had a cup of coffee and held my kids, enjoying the cacophony from the sunny playground where we’ll take Tess after her nap. I’m not trying to be melodramatic, but to communicate the reality of our experience. Some people will find this hard to hear; others will find it hard to believe. Still, not all loss feels like trauma. Sometimes it’s just a loss. We’ve never had a heartbeat or a kick – no cravings or belly pictures. Our losses have become matter-of-fact. It’s a beautiful day; we’re going out to enjoy it.
You are amazing!
Maggey, Every blog of yours captures my heart. You are amazing to share this with us in the way only your writing could convey. You, my dear are the act of God.
You are an inspiration; a woman of courage and strength. Thank you for sharing.
I read this the other day on a blog and thought of you. In my eyes, you and your strength are incredible! Xoxo
Dear mom of an adopted child,
I met you in adoption education class. I met you at the agency. I met you at my sonâ€™s school. I met you online. I met you on purpose. I met you by accident.
It doesnâ€™t matter. The thing is, I knew you right away. I recognize the fierce determination. The grit. The fight. Because everything about what you have was a decision, and nothing about what you have was easy. You are the kind of woman who Makes.Things.Happen. After all, you made this happen, this family you have.
Maybe you prayed for it. Maybe you had to convince a partner it was the right thing. Maybe you did it alone. Maybe people told you to just be happy with what you had before. Maybe someone told you it simply wasnâ€™t in Godâ€™s plans for you to have a child, this child whose hair you now brush lightly from his face. Maybe someone warned you about what happened to their cousinâ€™s neighborâ€™s friend. Maybe you ignored them.
Maybe you planned for it for years. Maybe an opportunity dropped into your lap. Maybe you depleted your life-savings for it. Maybe it was not your first choice. But maybe it was.
Regardless, I know you. And I see how you hold on so tight. Sometimes too tight. Because thatâ€™s what we do, isnâ€™t it?
I know about all those books you read back then. The ones everyone reads about sleep patterns and cloth versus disposable, yes, but the extra ones, too. About dealing with attachment disorders, breast milk banks, babies born addicted to alcohol, cocaine, meth. About cognitive delays, language deficiencies. About counseling support services, tax and insurance issues, open adoption pros and cons, legal rights.
I know about the fingerprinting, the background checks, the credit reports, the interviews, the references. I know about the classes, so many classes. I know the frustration of the never-ending paperwork. The hours of going over finances, of having garage sales and bake sales and whatever-it-takes sales to raise money to afford it all.
I know how you never lost sight of what you wanted.
I know about the match call, the soaring of everything inside you to cloud-height, even higher. And then the tucking of that away because, well, these things fall through, you know.
Maybe you told your mother, a few close friends. Maybe you shouted it to the world. Maybe you allowed yourself to decorate a babyâ€™s room, buy a car seat. Maybe you bought a soft blanket, just that one blanket, and held it to your cheek every night.
I know about your home visits. I know about your knuckles, cracked and bleeding, from cleaning every square inch of your home the night before. I know about you burning the coffee cake and trying to fix your mascara before the social worker rang the doorbell.
And I know about the followup visits, when you hadnâ€™t slept in three weeks because the baby had colic. I know how you wanted so badly to show that you had it all together, even though you were back to working more-than-full-time, maybe without maternity leave, without the family and casseroles and welcome-home balloons and plants.
And Iâ€™ve seen you in foreign countries, strange lands, staying in dirty hotels, taking weeks away from work, struggling to understand whatâ€™s being promised and whatâ€™s not. Struggling to offer your love to a little one who is unsettled and afraid. Waiting, wishing, greeting, loving, flying, nesting, coming home.
Iâ€™ve seen you down the street at the hospital when a baby was born, trying to figure out where you belong in the scene thatâ€™s emerging. Iâ€™ve seen your face as you hear a nurse whisper to the birthmother that she doesnâ€™t have to go through with this. Iâ€™ve seen you trying so hard to give this birthmother all of your respect and patience and compassion in those momentsâ€”while you bite your lip and close your eyes, not knowing if she will change her mind, if this has all been a dream coming to an abrupt end in a sterile environment. Not knowing if this is your time. Not knowing so much.
Iâ€™ve seen you look down into a newborn infantâ€™s eyes, wondering if heâ€™s really yours, wondering if you can quiet your mind and good sense long enough to give yourself over completely.
And then, to have the child in your arms, at home, that first night. His little fingers curled around yours. His warm heart beating against yours.
I know that bliss. The perfect, guarded, hopeful bliss.
I also know about you on adoption day. The nerves that morning, the judge, the formality, the relief, the joy. The letting out of a breath maybe you didnâ€™t even know you were holding for months. Months.
Iâ€™ve seen you meet your childâ€™s birthparents and grandparents weeks or years down the road. Iâ€™ve seen you share your child with strangers who have his nose, his smile â€¦ people who love him because heâ€™s one of them. Iâ€™ve seen you hold him in the evenings after those visits, when heâ€™s shaken and confused and really just wants a stuffed animal and to rest his head on your shoulder.
Iâ€™ve seen you worry when your child brings home a family tree project from school. Or a request to bring in photos of him and his dad, so that the class can compare traits that are passed down, like blue eyes or square chins. I know you worry, because you can protect your child from a lot of things â€” but you canâ€™t protect him from being different in a world so intent on celebrating sameness.
Iâ€™ve seen you at the doctorâ€™s office, filling out medical histories, leaving blanks, question marks, hoping the little blanks donâ€™t turn into big problems later on.
Iâ€™ve seen you answer all of the tough questions, the questions that have to do with why, and love, and how much, and where, and who, and how come, mama? How come?
Iâ€™ve seen you wonder how youâ€™ll react the first time you hear the dreaded, â€œYouâ€™re not my real mom.â€ And Iâ€™ve seen you smile softly in the face of that question, remaining calm and loving, until you lock yourself in the bathroom and muffle your soft cries with the sound of the shower.
Iâ€™ve seen you cringe just a little when someone says your child is lucky to have you. Because you know with all your being it is the other way around.
But most of all, I want you to know that Iâ€™ve seen you look into your childâ€™s eyes. And while you will never see a reflection of your own eyes there, you see something thatâ€™s just as powerful: A reflection of your complete and unstoppable love for this person who grew in the midst of your tears and laughter, and who, if torn from you, would be like losing yourself.
Maggey. I echo all the above comments. An expected loss still hurts. I’m glad you have Dave to support you and vice versa. Can you feel all the hugs that comes from all of us in the southwest? If your kids turn out half as special as their mother, they will be special indeed.
Maggey, you are amazing. Your family is amazing. And reading Kats letter – Kat, you are amazing. Thank you for sharing.
My German phone turned “amazing” in “Amazone” – very appropriate in a way… xoxo
I’ve been wanting to reply since I read this, but can’t seem to find the words. But know that my heart goes out to you, and even though it would take “an act of god” I’m sure it doesn’t hurt any less.