A little more than two years ago, my husband and I decided we were ready for our little family to grow. And by “ready” I mean we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, because really? Who is EVER ready for a baby?
Nobody, that’s who.
But we were in a good place. We’d been married a year and a half (which doesn’t sound like long, but remember: he is THREE YEARS YOUNGER than me. Which means that, unlike him, I do not have ALL THE DANG TIME IN THE WORLD to Get My Baby On.)
This will be us in a few years. I can only hope my sunglasses will be that GLORIOUSLY HUGE when I’m old.
Anyway, we were in a good place with the whole Hey-Let’s-Get-Pregnant thing. I was 26 years old and liked the idea of having a baby, but I hadn’t yet reached the OH MY GOSH I MUST HAVE A CHILD THIS INSTANT phase. Which was key, because women in my family have been known to take their time with the Getting Pregnant.
And for some, pregnancy hasn’t happened at all, despite the best efforts of science and modern medicine. (Although it has resulted in the adoption of some exceptionally lovely redheaded children who will grow up in a loving, healthy, and nurturing home.)
(Sometimes I think God has some plans for some people. Just saying.)
So I went into it expecting to wait. I was okay with the idea of taking one, two, even three years to get pregnant. I knew there was a possibility it might not happen at all.
Imagine my surprise when it happened within six months.
I believe I looked something like this. Only minus the red hair and blue eyes. And the dress. Not that I was naked or anything. I just don’t wear dresses often.
(“I don’t know why you’re so shocked,” my doctor said when I took a blood test to confirm the presence of Baby Girl. “You’ve been playing with fire for six months.”)
So anyway, the next nine-ish months were pretty . . . uneventful. I did have to take some sort of medication right at the beginning to raise the levels of some hormone (clearly I understand MUCH ABOUT SCIENCE) but besides that?
Baby Girl grew at the right rate. Everything developed when and how it should. She was active. She was healthy. And then, when she was 41 weeks along, she decided, “Hey, maybe I’ll make Mom stop waiting.” And so she came.
“Complications?” one of the nurses asked as Baby Girl made her debut.
“None,” our wonderful doctor replied with a smile.
There was no time in the NICU. There were no problems feeding her. She was not sick. She was not unhappy. My epidural (OH, HALLELUJAH PRAISE THE LORD) had taken perfectly and I was in pretty good shape for a woman who had just birthed quite a . . . ROBUST, shall we say, baby girl.
(Quick reminder: no c-section.)
(There are perks to being tall.)
We felt very blessed. And we still do.
It was after all this that I started hearing the stories. Women who’d lost babies in the first trimester. The second. The third.
Women who wanted babies so desperately they were going to other states for expensive procedures that stood hardly any chance of working.
Women who lost their babies at birth. Shortly after. Or several months after.
I heard stories that horrified me to the point of curling up in my bed, arms wrapped around Baby Girl, crying into her beautiful blond hair. I could not believe what had happened to these other families. The grief they were suffering. It was too much.
I honestly don’t know which is more painful: having a child and losing him or her; or never being able to have a child at all. But I’ll tell you this: my heart aches for those families, and for the women in particular.
I. Cannot. Imagine.
Last night as Baby Girl and I were driving home from a wild party (read: pizza at my parents’ house), she got a tad bit fussy. Her dad was in another car because he’d come from work to meet us, so it was just us girls. And the only thing that will appease Baby Girl when she’s upset in the car is a rendition or fifteen of “A Whole New World.”
The answer to your question is yes, I do sing both parts. I’m talented like that.
Every time I would finish singing it, I would wait to see if maybe she was okay. And every time, she’d get fussy again. So I would start from the beginning. And you know what? After about the sixth round of our little magic carpet ride, I was tired.
Tired of singing to Baby Girl.
And just as I was thinking, “Jeez, I wish I didn’t have to sing to her again!” (I know, I know, Mother Of The Year) this thought sort of erupted inside my mind:
You have a baby to sing to.
And I am not kidding when I tell you that I started crying so hard, I nearly had to pull over. I reached back and took Baby Girl’s hand–her perfect little hand–and told her how much I loved her. And then I thanked God for giving her to me. And I said a prayer for every woman I know who’s lost a child or who has been unable to conceive.
Whoever you are, I hope you feel some comfort today. I hope you know that your value is not diminished because you are childless. I hope you know that mothers everywhere are grieving with you because, although we don’t know firsthand how it feels, many of us can imagine at least a part of your pain.
And I hope you know I’m thinking about you right now and, even if you don’t believe in God or you blame him for what’s happened to you (a natural reaction, by the way, and I *do* get it) I pray for you. Not every day, and not necessarily by name, because I don’t know all of you. But I do pray that you will be comforted and that maybe, someday, you’ll be able to use your experiences to help someone else.
I hope I haven’t offended you in some way; if I said anything that irks you, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to. I hope you don’t think I’m trying to say, “I feel your pain,” because I don’t. I can’t. I can only use my imagination, and that’s almost more than I can bear.
You are in my heart and on my mind. And I love you.