People want to know when. They always want to know and rarely hesitate to ask.
When are we going to try again? When are we going to have another baby?
I can’t blame them, really. Our curiosity is human nature. And so they ask. We ask. Even I ask. And usually we ask when. Not if, but when.
It seems that the usual pattern after losing a baby is to start planning and trying again as soon as physically and emotionally able. It’s the normal progression of things for this abnormal life in which we bury our babies. It’s what people do. It’s what I generally expect from others. It’s what I expected for myself. After all, I got pregnant with the intent of having another baby. That’s how it works, right? That was the plan. It was what I wanted. What we wanted. Another child. A sibling. Another life to complete our little family. She was supposed to complete us.
So it would stand to reason that we would try again if possible. Perhaps seeking the completion, of which we were so brutally robbed. But what if we don’t? It’s a question that has kept a perpetual weight in my chest and lump in my throat.
What if she was it? What if we never have another?
And, even more – what if we don’t want to have another?
I’ve struggled with this for all of the obvious reasons. I’m 30 years old. I have an almost 4 year old. I have a supportive husband and a cozy home. We were supposed to have her. We had plans and intentions and hopes and dreams. Two kids, a boy and a girl even. Two dogs and a cat. It would have been perfect. It should have been perfect.
But it wasn’t. And it isn’t.
I’ve struggled for another reason that may not be so obvious and may not make a lot of sense. Or maybe it will.
I’m so afraid that if we make the decision to not have another child, we are somehow disrespecting or dismissing our daughter. The idea of being done with kids makes me feel like I am being given a big fat do-over because she died and I’m opting out of it. Like given the chance to do it again, I’m not interested. As if I’m saying, “I promise we really wanted you but since that didn’t quite work out and your death gave us some time to think about it, we have decided we’re all better off with just one child.” Ouch.
I know it’s insane. And it is total bullshit. Can I say that? Am I allowed to say that? Because that’s exactly what it is.
It’s a gross distortion of the truth and my pain whispers it aloud in my most vulnerable moments.
So what is the truth about this decision? About the chest weight and the throat lump and everything in between?
Well, here’s a few:
There is the fact that grief has left us tired and emotionally drained. And even when we’re good, even when we’re breathing, we are tired.
There is the fact that I know I cannot devote the same energy to my marriage, my son, and my grief while adding another child to the mix.
The fact that we aren’t guaranteed a healthy baby and the fact that I’m not sure we can survive another loss.
The fact that there are things that I want to do in and for the loss community that require time and energy and resources.
The fact that I got my sweet girl. I got my baby. I didn’t get to keep her. But I will always have her. She’s as much a part of our family as any of us.
So once again I find myself standing in the chaos of grief, acknowledging the truth that she changed everything. (I don’t know why I’m always surprised.)
She changed me to the core. Same for my husband, our son, and our entire family dynamic. She changed it all, including the vision of our life and our plans for the future. And if that vision doesn’t include a third child, that’s okay.
Because she also changed the definition of “complete” and what it means for my little family.
And buried somewhere deep in that pile of truths- the one that I try to reflect on in the moments of panic and fear- is the fact that maybe, just maybe, we are already complete.