Thursday, November 1, 2012

Is Eight Enough?

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."


Andi said...

As always, you are so great to share your heart. I think Lily and Anna are some very lucky and blessed little girls!

Amy said...

This is so good, Stacey. First, talking about "the silent years" spoke to my heart. There is a song by Andrew Peterson called "The Silence of God" that you should listen to. Sometimes the waiting is equally as hard as the loss (though a different type of hard). And that's why I think it is SO appropriate that you have named this baby Anna. Anna was such a beautiful, patient picture of waiting on the Lord, and she was satisfied when she saw Him. So I think, if Anna may be your last one in this long journey, that it would be symbolic of you being satisfied as you waited on Him.
I also loved that you said closing this chapter feels freeing...I actually nodded in agreement. We are starting to try for baby #3, but there has definitely been more than one tearful (on my part) conversation with Paul about how I want another baby, but after loss, you are almost chained to fear of going through loss again. I want to just be free to get pregnant and be excited, but that fear is always there, that weariness of "I don't think I could go through that again." To feel free from that, to feel satisfied, that is no little thing. I will be praying for you as you prepare to meet Anna, that you will be able to enjoy her fully and be satisfied in what the Lord has for you now, and trust that He will show you what He wants for your future. Love you!

Connie said...

So well spoken! Love you, Stace! So anxious to meet baby Anna!

Shannon said...

Six years of loss - it's a VERY long time. Living it probably felt 5 times as long, but 6 years is a long long time. And then another three years - the silent years - of waiting? Right now two months feels like an eternity to me, so I just can't even imagine.

It took me a different route to get here, I'm still trying for #2, and I'm a bit older than you, but I can still empathize --- I know that if I were younger, I'd be wondering if 2 was enough, and I'd be telling myself it was, but wondering, with that 10% of me, if maybe I had it in me to try for another.

You are so blessed, but it was a long hard road to get here. It's only natural to have some "what if" thoughts...but that freeing feeling of knowing that you're done? I can appreciate that, too. I'm actually really looking forward to that feeling.

So looking forward to "meeting" your Anna!

Jo said...

Stacey, this post made me tear up. I relate so much to what you have said on this topic. Wishing you a contented final few weeks of pregnancy with baby Anna and lots of happiness and peace with whatever decision you may make. All the best, dear friend. Love Jo

Aubrey said...

I can identify with so much of this post. My journey to motherhood was not so nearly long and tortuous as yours, but I have also thought about whether we would have another pregnancy. I'm certainly not ready to make any permanent decisions, but like yours, this second pregnancy of mine has been a bit tougher. I don't feel like we're done, especially since we had already started the adoption process prior to this surprise, and still have a heart to adopt. It is encouraging to see how you've trusted the Lord through the trials and I know you will continue to follow and trust him as he leads you into whatever decision is right for your family. I'm excited for you all as you await your sweet daughter!

beth ewing said...

you are so great at expressing your feelings and the feelings of others. i felt a lot of these same feelings after #2. i know i could have been happy at 2 even though i wanted more. God had an easy fertility baby and a surprise natural pregnancy in store for us that i never would have imagined. but i can still see so much of what you're saying. praying for peace of mind and God's will for your family.

Joy@WhenDoesDaddyComeHome said...

Thank you for being so transparent! I cannot wait to "meet" little Anna (makes me tear up to think of her joining your family this month!!!)!

Jenn said...

Very, very well said. I have been on facebook too much b/c I wanted to "like" the comments of Beth & Joy :)

gg said...

Well spoken my friend! NEVER stop being honest with your feelings. God has given you such an amazing gift of journaling. I still think you should turn this blog into a book. :)
Remember your words in your last paragraph...."rest in this moment". Love you!

MrsDjRass said...

This is a beautiful post. I wish you luck as you continue your journey.

Sara Naqvi said...

Well said! a really nice post