“The baby you’ll have will be the baby you were meant to have,” my sister told me after my first miscarriage.
Her words fell on deaf ears because I knew instinctively when I had seen the word “Pregnant” on the home testing kit stick (and on the seven subsequent tests I took in the hours after the first one), that that baby was the one I was meant to have. It was love at first pee.
After the second miscarriage, and then the third, I felt numb. There was no doubt each of those babies was meant to be mine. My mind raced and my heart ached, however, with the all-too-real possibility that no baby would ever be mine, and I wondered what I — and the world — was missing from the babies I had been unable to bring to full term. There are billions of people on the planet, all who started out in their mothers’ wombs, and yet it seemed that I was not being allowed to contribute to those numbers.
I felt emotionally and physically empty as I imagined a life in which I would never become someone’s mom, which is a role I had envisioned for forever. Try as I did, I couldn’t remember what the point of living was if I wasn’t able to raise a child of my own. I couldn’t bear to look at other women’s swollen bellies during their pregnancies. It seemed as if most didn’t know how lucky they were, and the signs of life growing everywhere but inside of me were too hard to process.
“Miscarriages are usually a sign that something was seriously wrong with the baby, so it’s really a blessing in disguise because the babies wouldn’t have survived,” I heard from not a few people.
But as it turned out, there was nothing wrong with the babies. The problem was with me — a clotting disorder called MTHFR (Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase), which is a rare genetic defect. Thankfully, in my case, a daily regiment of extra folic acid and baby aspirin easily fix the strain that I have. Or at least it was fixed the one time it counted.
Still, my fourth pregnancy was not the happy time I wished it had been. I tiptoed through each week until I could get the goo on my belly again and stare desperately at a TV screen in the doctor’s office for signs of life. When I heard and saw the heartbeat, I could finally exhale. Until I left the office and started the countdown until the next ultrasound. I wanted nothing more than to enjoy the pregnancy, but I kept thinking the moment I let my guard down, I was bound for more heartache.
When my healthy daughter was born, it didn’t take me a second to realize that my sister had been right. The other babies were mine, too, but this one was meant to be. Two and a half years later, she is a walking, giggling, joyful, impish and spirited love child who couldn’t have been born as anyone else at any other time.
She completes me in a “Jerry Maguire” kind of way (minus Renée Zellweger and any irrelevant sports clichés). She’s more dear to me than the breath in my lungs and the sum of my limbs and organs. She drives me crazy, but never for so long that I lose sight of the miracle that she is in my life, and how fulfilled and blessed I feel when she does something as simple as hold her chubby little hand in mine when we walk down the street, or when she rests a weary head on my shoulder at the end of the day.
And the day can’t come soon enough when I’ll let her know that you can’t hurry love, and that real love is always worth the wait, no matter how painful that wait may sometimes seem.
Image: Meredith Carroll