It’s the biggest question on my mind these days, whether its because my hormones are still telling me I need a child or whether its all the well-meaning folks who say they hope my experience won’t “turn me off parenting,” or that my husband and I are “too good of people to not try for another,” or that we’re “still young,” or any of the myriad things people say about the idea of a subsequent child in a situation like mine. Whether it is said aloud or not, the question is there: how can I have another child?

How I answer depends on the day.

Some days it is a matter of how can I not? If there is anything I learned about myself through carrying Michael, it was that I want to be a mother. I want to be the chief boo-boo kisser and bedtime story reader and teacher… I want that, so bad I can nearly taste it. I want to hold that future in my arms and sing it to sleep at night. I want to share that with my husband. There is no more of the wishy-washiness I used to have about it, no more ambivalence. I know now. And so, on those days, it is not a matter of “if,” but of “when” and “how soon?”

Some days it’s even a desire to not let this tragedy “get the better of me.” I don’t want to let it win, let it rule the rest of my life like those sad stories you hear about women who were “never the same” after this outcome, who could never stand the sight of children, who lived out their lives with no more joy.

Other days, it’s “how could I even do it?” It’s “what makes me think I could do it again and not have the same outcome?” It’s “how could I even last the nine months necessary and keep my sanity, let alone make it through labor?” On those other days, it is a matter of the very real fears and hypothetical outcomes that make up my sole childbearing experience. Because I have had exactly one pregnancy, exactly one birth, and no living child. My failure rate is 100%. In my experience children don’t live and parenthood only brings sorrow. I have no positive outcome to cling to as a bastion of hope because in my experience, all pregnancies end in death. I am living proof that the impossible — losing a full-term baby after a textbook, perfect pregnancy and labor — still happens. Because shit happens.

And, say that I find myself pregnant again, how do I choose whether to go through regular labor or have an elective cesarean? How do I know that the choice I make won’t be the reason that subsequent child dies? And say that child dies like Michael did, how many more times must I subject myself to that heartache?

How do I find the courage that I am missing? I want it back almost as much as I want to not hurt anymore. And more importantly, how do I learn to trust in my Maker? After this clusterf*ck of a situation, how can I ever trust that everything will be fine?

Unfortunately, there are way too many questions and no one right answer, and I am writing my own how-to instruction manual as I go…

In the meantime, I breathe in and I breathe out, and I hold my insides back from that cliff of “what if.” In the meantime, I focus on the things that need doing, the songs that need singing, and simply the little span of time known as ‘today.’

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16 thoughts on “How can I? or, The Question of the Subsequent Child

  1. Hey heather,
    I cannot answer your question for you. no one can. That has to happen in it’s own good time and God will have something to do with that. What I can share is the knowledge that bad things happen and so do good things. I was a drug addict in my 20’s and got sober in ’86. I went back to college and graduated. I had a job. In ’94 I found out I had Hep C from my druggie days and my liver was already 3/4 gone. I knew I could die and I almost did in ’97. Someone else did die and left me a chance to live. Didn’t know for how long, but I lived. I found my husband thru several trials and tribulations and we are happy. I also know that my time is limited as there is no possibility of another transplant and the Hep C is affecting the new liver. I have lived longer than they thought I would as it is. I am grateful. I have no idea why God has chosen to give me new life twice. Getting sober and getting the transplant. Sobriety helped me deal with my parents divorce and finding Buddy helped both of us. Who really knows. I just know He is there and I keep putting one foot in front of the other and make it through it all. So will you! God is there and He loves you and your family, in both planes. He will help you through and cry or rejoice with you as you go through life. We don’t always like what can be thrown at us, but I do believe that we never get more than we can handle. We always learn something in all circumstances if we are willing to be open to the lesson. Know that I care about you very much even if we don’t know each other very well. God Bless.

  2. I have found that Gods answers are easier to hear when we aren’t wrapped in the blanket of fear. I didn’t tell you about Pat’s horror story from our first, never felt sharing it would be useful. When your ready, I believe you will know.

    1. I have no doubt that’s the case (hearing Him is easier when we’re not afraid). Why can’t He speak a little louder? haha. 🙂

      On a serious note, I sure hope I will come to know my own mind with certainty, again. I hate this near-constant pendulum-swing!

  3. Kim is right Heather. We have to learn to accept the gifts God has given us and no try to bend His will to fit our needs. God has a plan…roll with it…accept it…be grateful for it…and try to understand that it is for our good that God does what God does. It is not our place to question why. Just to be gracious and accept His gifts and challenges for us. Put your life in God’s hands and you will be nothing but happy. I know it’s hard to do…it took me 45 years to learn how. But now, I have no worries to speak of. I always give them back to God and He takes care of them for me. It’s like opening that golden door to your future. God wants you to be happy, and you must accept that as well. Too often we wallow in sadness when there is no need to. Feeling sorry for ourselves, complaining about why something had to happen, when what we need to be is thankful that something even worse didn’t happen. Try to look at the flip side of the coin. Trust your maker. He only wants the best for you.

    1. So, let me get this straight:

      It was “for my own good” that God took my SON?
      It was “for my own good” that my husband is deprived of being a Father?
      I’m supposed to be “happy” about that?
      I’m supposed to be “gracious” and “thankful” and say “yes, God, please LET MY SON DIE so I can be happy about it”??

      You have missed the entire point of this entire post, mother.

  4. Writing as a pretty fervent Calvinist guy, I’ve never known anything harder than fully trusting Him after Doria died. That’s still an up-and-down affair, because that happened, and I can’t erase the history of it.
    This sounds weird to me, and I certainly don’t have it all figured out yet (or ever), but trust looks different after something like this. In a way, it’s still hopeful, but it’s also starkly sober, because we’ve lived the “100% failure rate” that you mentioned. That’s all we know so far.

    One of my profs went down this road, too. It’s amazingly tough when this is our formative experience, because the defeat is all we know. You’ve got a ton of courage, though, and God’s given you a good heart.

    Frankly, I see a lot to commend in that you talk about it at all. The questions don’t all have answers, but you’re going in a good direction, even though it’s really, really painful.

    We’re praying for you. Whenever you need us, we’re here 🙂

    1. Thank you so much. ❤

      I can't keep it bottled up inside; it'd kill me! 😛 And it is very, very weird writing about something so personal, but it helps me sort it through. It is very hard to see my own courage, though. I feel like a worrywart!

      1. It does feel like that. It’s strange, but you start to notice how rare it really is, too.

        This is how I sort a lot of it out. Don’t worry, you’re just moving through 🙂

  5. I am so sorry for your loss!

    The wisdom of your last paragraph is very true. God allowed us to conceive number two soon after Doria’s death. There have been days were all I can do is breath, pray, and hope; and then distract myself. I wish I could tell you there was an easy answer or an even easier band aid Bible answer. I have to cling to what I know of God’s love and faithfulness even with the unknown. I am praying for you!

  6. Hi Heather I just wanted to share with you something that I thought was quite appropriate. I have found out that the term for a baby that is born healthy after such a loss is called the rainbow baby. Isn’t that pretty you get a rainbow after all the raining tears. I’m thinking of you loves and hugs

  7. Thank you for sharing your private thoughts, by sharing them it helps me to understand. Sometimes I just stop and think of you and say a prayer and send it your way.
    If you ever get a chance look up crap sandwich. It’s a mom’s experience of when her daughter had cancer, so I know it isn’t what you have dealt with but the whole meaning of being dealt a crap sandwich is something I have read from time to time. My friend posted it when her husband had brain cancer and passed.

    1. I typed in cancer crap sandwich and it came up. I hate crap sandwiches——-you have had a huge serving and it’s not fair.

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