The following is a post that has been on my heart for a while. It's scary, sometimes, putting things "out there" that feel truly, deeply personal and private, knowing that one little negative comment could potentially cut you to the core. So this is me taking that chance and being brave, friends. I'm not asking for advice, but just a friendly, listening ear.
I'm nearing the end of my eighth pregnancy. I can count the remaining weeks on one hand as the date we've been anticipating since March now appears on our current calendar page. November 2012 is the month when we'll meet our second daughter on earth, the second child we got to keep.
As most of you probably know, my first six pregnancies ended in miscarriage. I know the story has been told and re-told on this blog, but I think perspective is important for this particular post. That was the most difficult time in my life, hands-down. And, not that it would have been any easier at all had they happened in a shorter time frame, my losses were spread out -- one a year for six years, between 2002 and 2007. The reason I'm pointing that out is that it felt like it took up so much of our lives. I'll even admit that looking at it written out doesn't seem like quite that long. Oh, but living it felt like an eternity. It felt like climbing the highest, rockiest mountain over and over again, only to find another one just as high and just as rocky on the other side.
I entered that time as a young, eager, (ahem -- much thinner), twenty-four year old with high hopes, and I exited as a battered and bruised, heartbroken, somewhat jaded thirty year old. We still had very few answers and (speaking for myself) not much hope that our situation would improve. Three more years went by while we waited. Those felt like silent years to me. I wondered if God had closed the door, stopped listening to me, and decided that my chances at motherhood had run out. I was thankful that those years did not include more loss -- I'm not sure if I could have handled more grief during that time. But the silence, too, was hard.
Everything changed in January 2010, when we were given another chance, a seventh pregnancy, and somehow it kept going. Our daughter was born that September and we were overjoyed. We'd grown and changed in many ways (some for the better, some not), but most of all we were tired and ready to rest in the joy of the moment.
The eighth pregnancy in March 2012 came faster and more unexpectedly than we could have imagined, but we were ready and hopeful, if not more than a little bit terrified. We knew that having had one successful pregnancy did not guarantee another, but as the weeks and months passed, the baby lived and grew. We began to let ourselves entertain thoughts of a family of four, and let me tell you, it was so far beyond where I was five years ago after our sixth positive pregnancy test resulted in another devastating loss. Sometimes I still can't believe it when I look around me. The rooms of our house are littered with toys and upstairs there are two bedrooms with cribs in them. More than that, though, my heart is so full.
And so, all of that brings me to this moment, right now. I haven't made any final decisions (or any of the permanent type), but I often wonder if this will be it. Will this eighth pregnancy be our last? If I had to answer as honestly as I can and exactly as I feel today, my answer would be yes. I guess "enough" isn't a great word here, because YES, it is certainly enough! The last thing in the world that I feel right now is unfulfilled or that our family is incomplete (with our six babies in heaven always in my mind and heart -- we know we'll see them again one day, and they are part of our family as well even though they are not here). Having Lily was all we'd hoped for, and now having Anna is all bonus and so much more than we'd imagined. We are fulfilled. We are happy.
If I were ten years younger and had never suffered through miscarriage or infertility, would we stop after two children? Probably not. And that's the part that is hard. I'll be 36 a couple of months after Anna is born. I don't bellyache about my increasing age on this blog because I know there are people older than I am who are fighting their own battles. But I mention it to say that I'm aware of it daily, and I'm more than aware that after eight pregnancies and multiple surgeries, etc., my body is weary. It has been a long and very difficult road to where we are. Not to mention that after six miscarriages, the fear of another loss is always with me. And even though I know it has nothing at all to do with "luck," I can't help but also think sometimes that after bringing home two babies I don't want to "push my luck." I guess that's the pessimist (or the realist) in me.
I do know that women who are older than I am have babies all the time. I think that's great and I like knowing that it may not be impossible for me as well if we pursued that. I think the point of getting all of these feelings out is that I don't feel like the average woman of childbearing age. It took us an entire decade and a lot of emotional and physical pain to have these two children, so I can't help but have lots of feelings on the subject. Sometimes I envy those who had/have no limitations whatsoever on their family size, those who knew from a young age that they wanted to grow up and have "x" amount of children and then faced no obstacles in doing just that. But I've accepted the fact that I'm not and never will be that person, and I know that what I went through to have my miracle babies is part of my story and what makes this family unique and special to me in its own amazing way. From my perspective, which is based on my own personal experience, the thought of closing the chapter of my life that has been consumed with fertility feels... quite freeing.
It's a difficult topic for me to mull over right now, even though I feel 90% sure (and generally okay with it) that Anna will be our caboose. I want to be content in what God has given us, yet I don't want to be the one who has slammed and locked the door if He has another child for us in the future (biological or otherwise).
I can't help but think about it in these final weeks of this pregnancy. I wonder if this will be the last time, while I'm still amazed that I've been given the chance (however hard-fought) to do this twice. Either way I want to rest in this moment and be content right where I am. And I think, whenever we're ready and after praying about it at length, it will one day feel great to say, "Okay. It's enough."