When I found out that I was pregnant with our fifth baby, I was secretly elated. With four kids age 8 and under at home already, my husband and I had been at odds about having another baby.
He was happy to be done and I was longing for just one more. So when that fifth pregnancy test popped up positive, the decision had been made for us. All we could do was look forward to another baby in our family. With a surprise pregnancy, I felt instantly relieved that the decision of whether or not to have another baby had been taken off my shoulders.
There was nothing to do but begin planning where the heck we would fit all these kids and look forward to the intoxicating weight of a newborn in my arms again … until I miscarried.
I felt like a hole had been ripped right through me. After four healthy pregnancies, I am embarrassed to say that I was completely caught off guard by the loss. I felt empty and couldn’t seem to “backtrack” not only from the little person I had already seen so clearly in my mind, but from the completed family I envisioned in the future. And now, well past the point where I would have met that baby, I am left wondering if I will ever be able to “move on.”
Part of me feels a little crazy, a little obsessed, because I still think about my miscarriage every single day. I wonder every single month if I could be pregnant again, despite knowing full well I am not. I count out potential due dates and consider the benefits and drawbacks of a summer pregnancy versus a winter delivery. I sneak glances at baby bumps in the stores, gaze wistfully at mothers holding their newborns, and still feel like someone knocked the wind out of me when I see pregnancy announcements.
Most days I wonder what the heck is wrong with me. Why I am being so dramatic? Why on earth can’t I just be grateful what I have? But the truth is, I feel haunted by the baby I lost because it was supposed to be my last.
I actually did some googling this morning to see if other moms who have miscarried feel this way, because I wondered if I really am crazy. I feel haunted, like this baby that would have been is hanging around my head, looking over my shoulder, hiding in the hallways, or drifting between my other children as they play outside. I almost feel by not trying again, we are betraying that baby, as if to say it was all for the best.
I am stuck in a place where I can’t move forward and I can’t move back. I was so close to a different future that was taken away from me. You know that point in pregnancy when you accept Holy crap, this is happening! and you move past that initial fear and go into the excitement with a secret smile knowing you’re carrying something special with you? Yeah, that’s where I was. And then, just like that, it was gone. I feel like part of me stayed in that moment; I don’t know where to go from there.
Because I’m a writer or maybe just a weirdo, I find myself searching for the meaning in all of this. Did the happiness I felt when I was pregnant mean our family was meant to be just one more member bigger? Or does the fact that I lost the pregnancy serve a sign that our family is complete?
What do you do when you miscarry your “last” baby? Do you try again or accept that your baby years are over and it’s time to move to the next season of parenting? What do you do when you realize that trying again is never a guarantee and could break your heart even more? Honestly, I don’t know. But I wish I did.
I guess I will remain here for a while, struggling with whether I need to accept that empty place in my heart for good, or offer it up again, just one more time.