I spend a great deal of time glossing over hurts. I push them to the back burner of my heart. Life as a homeschool mom is crazy and busy enough to keep my mind occupied with the here and now. Math test? Check. Understanding direct objects? Check. Learning about forms of energy? Check.
But there is a hurt just beneath the surface, and there are times that it raises its scarred head and screams to be released. Often this hurt comes out in my dreams, as it did last night.
I dreamed a very vivid dream that I was having a baby. What I mean by that is not that I was just pregnant, but in my dream I was in a hospital room up on the table actually in labor. I experienced excruciating pain, and then, when the baby was born and placed in my arms, inexplicable joy filled my soul, and I felt complete. I nursed the baby in my dream…again, I experienced the tugging sensation of lactation. The love I felt for this child was overwhelming. I proudly showed her — the baby was a girl — to my husband and my daughter. I brought the baby home and bathed her and changed her diaper. We were settling into a routine when all of a sudden, in my dream, I realized that this couldn’t have really happened. The truth screamed out at me:
- I will never have another baby.
- I will never again experience the miracle of incubating life.
- There will never be another child created that is part of me and part of my husband.
The agony of this truth is compounded because it is a self-inflicted truth. Because of my past miscarriages, blood-clotting condition, difficult pregnancies, and extreme fear of throwing up, we made a medical decision that cannot be changed. I’ve lived and grieved with this decision for over a year now, but somehow it hasn’t gotten any easier.
When I step outside myself, I know that God is merciful and that he created me this way. He knows all about me and my anxieties. I think getting pregnant again — even if it had been possible — might have given me a nervous breakdown. It’s easy to talk and write about putting your faith in God, but it’s a much harder thing to actually follow through. I tried following that faith. I did get pregnant again, but again, I miscarried. It was too much. As I shed the blood of a little one, so early in its life, and felt wave after wave of cramping pain, it was as if a part of my soul bled out, too. I just didn’t have the courage to stand up to another crushing reality…to another bout of panic attacks brought on by severe nausea…to having my daughter have to watch me suffer. Many women keep trying, taking fertility drugs or progesterone or blood thinners…but I threw in the towel. I gave up.
For the most part, I’ve been okay with our decision….just not joyful. I avoid the baby aisle in the grocery stores. I avoid babies if I can. I tell myself that I am glad to be able to focus my love and attention on my only child…
Only to have my heart break when she asks why she doesn’t have any siblings. She has no one to share Christmas joy with…no one to fight over toys with…no one to be with her after we are long gone. I think I grieve about this as much as I do about anything else. I love my own brother fiercely. I love his children and his wife; she will never be an aunt. She will never be a sister-in-law. The pathetic thing is she looks at our dogs as her “siblings.” And now that the old one is entering his last days…the one who “taught” her how to crawl because he learned how to lie down just out of her reach…I fear for her. Many of my happiest childhood memories include antics with my brother…how he used to crawl into bed with me during thunderstorms because he was scared…how he cried at daycare for me, so they got me out of my class and let me help with the little ones…how I went to his baseball games and played on the playground while keeping an eye on the field, waiting for his turn at bat. How I cheered wildly when he hit a home run — his victory felt like my victory. How I cried and begged God to give ME the hearing loss and not him. My daughter has no brother or sister. She has no “built-in” cheering section apart from me and her dad.
And I feel like it’s all my fault. If I could have kept myself from panicking, perhaps I would not have miscarried. If I had been stronger, if I had forced myself to eat and drink more, perhaps I would not have miscarried. I sat in the hospital for eight hours on four different occasions receiving several bags of fluid because I was so dehydrated…not because of throwing up, but because I refused to drink. It was as if my throat wouldn’t work. If I had not been so afraid and had tried again sooner after the first miscarriage, perhaps we would have gotten pregnant again before the blood clotting condition arose.
I was so miserable in the second pregnancy — only seven weeks along — that I told the nurse I almost wished for a miscarriage. She shushed me and told me not to wish for such a thing…that wishing could make it come true. Five days later….I miscarried, even though my hormone levels were rising. That baby of mine would be seven years old, eight in January. Was the nurse right, and did I somehow cause my own baby’s death? Oh, Lord, let it not be so!
Adoption is a journey we could take. But my husband and I both have to be in agreement. At this point, neither of us is sure we want to take this path. We’ve been to a seminar. We’ve talked and prayed about it. What it comes down to, for him, is that he blames God — and himself — for our failure in growing our family. If God wanted us to have more children, he would have given them to us, he reasons. He blames himself (wrongly) for the miscarriage in my second pregnancy because he was very wrapped up in work those days. I’ve tried to tell him that it didn’t matter…he could have been home with me every single day and I still would have been miserable and depressed due to the severe and debilitating nausea. He tried to tempt me with all sorts of food. He made me slushes that I couldn’t drink and grilled cheese sandwiches that I couldn’t even look at, much less taste. For my part, I am thinking a new baby would upset the applecart. I am comfortable having one child. I am glad that we got rid of our car seat and high chair a long time ago.
And yet…I can still feel the baby in my dreams. I can smell her sweet baby scent and feel the weight of her head on my shoulder.
As I often do in my dreams when I realize they are wrong, I changed the dream around. All of a sudden this baby was a baby that we adopted. I distinctly remember the color of her eyes changed from blue to brown, and they were beautiful eyes.
So there are times that I still grieve. I miss my two babies who are with Jesus. I miss the ones that might have been created had I not given in to fear and made it medically impossible for our family to have them. I will never know what having a “little man” with my husband’s genes for mischief is like. We will not have a man to carry on my husband’s family name. I grieve for my husband who always wanted a big family, and when I am feeling blue, I wonder at God choosing a woman — a weakling like me — for such a strong man as he.
This truth hurts.
Today as my daughter sat eating her lunch, I came up behind her and wrapped my arms around her. She’s getting to the age where hugs aren’t “all that.” I could tell she was a little annoyed, but I didn’t care. (Well, maybe I cared a little.) I hugged her and smelled her vanilla-scented shampoo and breathed in her still-little-girl scent with gratitude. How did I ever manage to help create such a beautiful, loving person? How did I ever manage to get through the pregnancy? I wish I could go back ten years in time and tell myself to S-L-O-W down. I wish I could go back and tell myself to grab hold of every moment because I wouldn’t get to have another.
Usually I try to make my entries uplifting. I just don’t have it in me today. The dream is so fresh in my mind, and tears are flowing as I write. I do hold on, however, to the truth — Jesus will never leave me or forsake me. I’m still grieving, but he’s catching my tears.
You keep track of all my sorrows.[a]
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.