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.’