I was starting to get excited about you. I had been thinking about you for over eight months now but I have been scared to even think about bringing you to life. There are so many risks, after all, at our age. When I think back about how I envisioned parenthood, this is not what I had hoped for. My reality is so much different.
When we got married, three kids was our number. Did that mean three living children or just three children? I have three children but only two are living. But then I think about it more and I know that I envisioned little ones playing with each other, fighting in the back seat of the car, squatting down in the yard playing in the dirt together, and growing up close in age.
My reality is that I was stricken with infertility for over 22 years. We struggled to get pregnant with our first, trying to remain within the boundaries of our Catholic faith and teachings. After three and a half years, we welcomed our first son. We knew we wanted more. He was perfect in every way.
The fear was there that we would have a nightmare of a child but two years apart is what we had hoped for. So we began that journey. We wanted to try a more natural route this time. I knew my body well and I began trying Eastern medicinal techniques. Two years came and went.
By year four, I began combining Eastern and Western Medicine but our efforts weren’t fruitful. As year six approached, we gave up that dream and began focusing on our careers; at least, I did. My husband had his career and it was going well. I just wanted to start mine.
It seemed that as soon as that decision was made, we discovered we were pregnant. Losing her to miscarriage in the first trimester was devastating and changed me in so many ways. I have done so much research and now dedicate my life to serving families during loss in any trimester. Knowing what I know, makes the thought of you even scarier.
Then, just two years after that loss, we discovered we were pregnant again. Yes, we had been trying and we sought some help but the help didn’t work and we were blessed with a “natural” conception. He was born and I told myself I would never have another. The baby blues were horrendous and the loss of personal time was taking its toll. The feeding struggles and my inability to read his cues were even more troubling for me that I vowed that you would never happen.
And then, as Timmy approached his first birthday, you began to sneak into my life. I began to be consumed with thoughts of you, mostly as I approached the newfound ovulation that my body had begun. It became overwhelming for three to four days out of the month but there was so much fear in letting you in. So much fear in imagining you here. So much fear in me as a mother and in all that could go wrong getting you here. And then it happened. I couldn’t shake you. You wouldn’t leave.
Two weeks ago I made an appointment to see a genetic counselor. I wanted to explore the options for you and make a decision.
Then last week a butterfly appeared in our home. It was the dead of winter, where did this little butterfly come from? I questioned if I had an infestation somewhere but so many of my friends believed this butterfly was a sign. “What bigger sign do you need Elizabeth?” is what some people shared. I was hesitant to believe the butterfly was a sign.
I learned that it was a female butterfly. Her species was White Cabbage Butterfly. She was yellow with 2 perfect, black spots on her wings. As I was doing the dishes, I noticed the light flickering above me and I looked up to my left to see her swoop over my shoulder and land on the cupboard. She walked up the door and opened her wings a few times. As I watched her, I finished the dishes.
I thought to myself, if she is still there when I am done, I will snap a picture of her.
She was still there.
I posted the picture to a group on Facebook. This is where I heard she was a sign. I shared the picture with my husband who was at work. He too, believed she was a sign. The sign was, “Have another baby.” Was this our angel in Heaven sharing the best way she could?
Later that night, the butterfly had moved to above the sink near the ceiling. I wondered how long she would stay. I retreated to my bedroom that night and began to pray. I pulled out my Rosary. Something I hadn’t prayed since I lost Ruby. It was surreal, sitting in the same room, saying the same prayers. The Rosary called for “the sorrowful mysteries.” Three of which had specific meaning to what I was going through. I completed my meditations and prayers within 45 minutes and drifted off to sleep.
The next morning, I felt refreshed. I had prayed for direction and peace in my heart. I didn’t want to struggle with the decision to have you. I just wanted to leave it in His hands and go with that. But things changed today and here I am, trying to grasp the decision I placed on Him. But I digress.
I DID experience peace and I felt the struggle leave my heart. I felt renewed and began to get excited about your impending presence. When I came home from work that Saturday, my husband and I spent some time in the bedroom and were excited that you might be coming as well.
I felt so blessed to have a husband who wanted you and who was supportive of you. I know many women who don’t have that kind of support. I imagined my growing belly and feeling you move inside me. I imagined my husband rubbing my belly and Timmy kissing my belly. I could see him slapping my belly too and I could see Joey trying to wrap his arms around me again for as long as he can while both hands still touched.
I imagined us in church together, with my swollen belly. I imagined driving with my belly and wondered if my new car would accommodate such changes to my body. I imagined the car seats and where Timmy would sit and where your car seat would be placed. I imagined where you would sleep once you were born. We talked about it that Saturday afternoon. We decided your crib would be placed in our room and Joey would move to the basement in a few years. Or if you were a boy, Timmy and you could share a room.
I imagined me feeling as amazing about my body as I did with Timmy’s pregnancy. I imagined finding time for exercise and how I would manage to keep my weight healthy during your pregnancy. I planned who I would call to have my blood tests taken to ensure I was making enough progesterone and I planned who I would talk with to get supplementation if I needed it.
I imagined you and Timmy growing up together. Secretly hoping you were a girl for many reasons, mainly because your father has such a strong desire to raise a girl. I would love another boy but I imagined you a girl. I imagined breastfeeding you. We discussed what we would do if you were tongue-tied like the rest of the family and if we would choose not to circumcise you if you were a boy.
I imagined rocking you to sleep and wearing you everywhere. I researched baby carriers for newborns. I began preparing for you and packed up some of Timmy’s old things so that they can be used for you. I wondered if I needed to keep all his boy clothes or hold off until we found out if you were a girl. I imagined how long your hair would be when you were Timmy’s age. Should I let it grow or keep it short? I wondered if you would wear dresses all the time or pants?
I imagined how I differently I would do things this time. I imagined myself a supermom, carrying two babies and making it look easy. I saw a woman struggling in the grocery story with her two young children and imagined myself doing the same. I knew it wouldn’t be easy and there would be rough days. I wondered how I would handle it.
I imagined you in school. I imagined you would love it as much as I did. My brother came to visit the next day. It was a surprise trip and he brought his children with him. As I admired them and his daughter, I couldn’t help but imagine you, again, as a girl. I imagined you would play with my hair the same way my niece did. I imagined you would have some of the same desires as she did.
I know my husband imagined you a girl, hoping you had green eyes like mine. I imagined him twirling and dancing with you. I imagined him loving you in a way I have never seen him love someone before. I imagined him giving in to your heart’s desire.
I imagined you becoming a teenager and even imagined the yelling and disagreements that might take place between us. I imagined me sharing my life with you. I imagined me teaching you about being a woman, about your fertility, and even thought about your wedding.
I wondered if having you so late in my life meant I wouldn’t get to see those things. I wondered if we would do a disservice to you being so aged as you were in high school. I wondered if I could be all you needed and wanted in a mother. I imagined you with your brothers, and of course, being there for us when we got too old to take care of ourselves.
There is so much I imagined but most of all, I imagined our dreams from 18 years ago coming true. Even though I have two children with years that separate them, I imagined the possibility of also having two children close in age. A dream I gave up on many years ago.
Today we visited with a genetics counselor to determine risks. Some of them are high and include an early induction. It’s not the induction that scares me the most, but the thought that you could die before you make it outside that kills me inside. These are the scary parts about me preventing you from coming. This fear has had me in grips for the last eight months. I have been trying to convince myself that I didn’t want you. I find myself doing this even now, even though I bawled while I was singing and rocking Timmy to sleep during his nap today over the thought of you not coming.
I contemplated what that might look like because over the last five days, I have only thought of you. I fell in love with the idea of you. And I imagined, even if we had you, that none of what I had imagined might come true. I imagined saying goodbye to you at some point.
I don’t want to say goodbye. I want to say hello and I want to say that I love you. I didn’t know just how much I wanted you until now. I fought it for so long. But alas, I can only imagine.
– Breaking the silence of First Trimester Miscarriage
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