I am the mother of a twelve-month-old little girl. I wake up each morning and rescue her from her crib when she cries. I feed her and change her and play with her and rock her to sleep every day. I snuggle her and read to her and count her little toes.
I am also the mother of six little ones in heaven. I've never seen them face to face. I've never held them in my arms or kissed them on the cheek. I've never smelled their hair or tickled their tummies. I miss them, and they are missing from me.
That feeling of loss never goes away.
I think there are a few misconceptions about having a baby after recurrent pregnancy loss. One is the idea that finally having a child erases all the pain of past losses. It doesn't. Having my daughter has helped my heart to heal, but one child never replaces another. Besides that, the 33-year-old woman I was when I gave birth to my daughter last year was not the same as the much younger woman I was when I lost my first pregnancy in 2002, my second in 2003, my third in 2004, my fourth in 2005, my fifth in 2006, and my sixth in 2007. Just as each of those children was unique, the loss of each and every separate baby affected me in a different way. Each came (and went) at a different time in my life and carried with them their own individual hopes and dreams. They don't get all lumped together in a section of my heart labeled "loss." Each one occupies his or her own space.
I think another misconception is that once you've had a healthy baby after loss, all of your fertility issues must have been solved. If I'm being completely honest here, this is one of the things that I feel still separates me from the "fertile world." Even though I finally carried a baby full-term and I've looked at her face every single day for over a year now, I still don't walk around feeling like a "regular" mom. Granted, I don't really know what a regular mom might feel like, but I imagine she might not think too much about her fertility. I imagine that she and her husband decide they want to have a baby and... well, they do. No, I don't know what that feels like. So when friends casually say things like, "Oh, the next time you have a baby, be sure and do such-and-such," I'm not sure how to react. I guess I appreciate that they're thinking positively about my chances of doing this all over again. And, trust me, I sincerely hope that they're right. But it doesn't change the fact that it took six failed pregnancies and three subsequent years of infertility -- nearly nine years total -- to bring home my baby. I cannot and will not forget about that. It's my reality and my story. It's part of who I am now and it won't ever go away.
Trying again just isn't that easy, even after a successful pregnancy. I don't know when I'll be ready to start all over again. And really and truly, I don't mean for this post to be negative or pessimistic. I just mean for it to be honest.
October 15 is a special day for pregnancy and infant loss awareness, but these feelings are with me every day. Today I'll hold my daughter closer, I'll remember my babies (and yours) in heaven, and I'll pray for those who are hurting.
Because I know it really never goes away.