Monday, July 22, 2013

A Reflection On My Son's 18 Month Birthday

Two years ago Eric and I made the decision to start trying for another baby. We wanted our kids to be close in age like my sisters and I were. We wanted them to be best friends and spend hours bugging one another only to turn around and become inseparable.  So when we found out that we were pregnant we were overjoyed. We absolutely loved being parents to Henrik and couldn't wait for another little one to run around with him. Don't be fooled though, our excitement and joy was more of an accomplishment kind of joy, like we'd done it, again. It came so easy for us that we thought we were beyond lucky. But we both had this intense fear that we didn't know what to do with two babies. How on earth could we handle two of them?

I can't explain the panic I had over whether or not I could love another child as much as I loved Henrik. I couldn't help but think horrible things like "what if this baby wasn't as cute or smart or healthy?" Would we still love it just as much? Was I being ridiculous? A lot of people have more than one child, it must be possible, but how?

Just a few days after discovering that I was 7 1/2 weeks pregnant, I found blood after I went to the bathroom. Obviously concerned, I rushed to the ER to find out if everything was okay. After several hours, we were told that I was undergoing a "Threatened Miscarriage" What the hell was that? Couldn't they tell if I was pregnant or not? Was it going to live or not? Were we seriously talking about a miscarriage? Where did I go wrong?  Was it that glass of wine I had before I knew I was pregnant? Was I not supposed to have another baby? Was I being punished for thinking I couldn't love another child?

The M word. It's the naughtiest word I can think of. A word that has a connotation as strong as rape or murder, but this word is worse. It means you should be ashamed or embarrassed. It means you some how have failed and were unable to create life. This is a word that people don't say to one another. It's a word that isn't in the news or talked about among friends. It's a word that may only be whispered and usually has a response of "Ohhh" as the other person bows their head and shifts their eyes. It's a word that I will never leave me and will haunt me on doctor's office paperwork for the rest of my life: Two pregnancies, one child.

That morning after my lab tests, I stood for a long time just looking at myself in the fogged up bathroom mirror. I examined my body up and down trying to figure out where I, we went wrong. I found nothing. I looked at my tired eyes and long face trying to find a glimpse of hope that I had a few days earlier, but there was none. I looked at my belly and tried to determine if there was something still in there. In my heart I knew there was not.

When Henrik walked into the room he ran over to me and climbed into my arms. It was surprising as he usually only greeted Eric that way. Henrik buried his head into my shoulder and just laid there for a minute. He could tell that his mommy was sad. He knew. I hugged him back. Fully embracing his love and holding back my tears, I finally understood why this was all happening. I had learned that I could love another child. In five days I went from loving the idea of being pregnant again to losing a child and mourning the loss of something I hardly knew. It was possible.

Just 16 days after I miscarried, I got pregnant again. Of course I was terrified, but not because I was worried I wouldn't love it, I knew I would, this time I was worried that I'd lose another baby. As the pregnancy went on I had multiple freak outs, like when I started bleeding again at 7 1/2 weeks. When I saw the ultrasound of a little peanut wiggling around and saw the heartbeat, I was relieved but not at ease. They told me I had a Sub-Chorionic Hemorrhage, and they hoped it would clear up on it's own. It did by 17 weeks. At 21 weeks we had another ultrasound and discovered an enlarged kidney and that while it was common in boys, if it didn't clear up on it's own it could be a sign of other things. A month later, they checked again and the baby was totally healthy. Were we in the clear? Why was this child putting me through all of this?!

Finally, on January 21, 2012, Theodor William was born. He was perfect. In every way. And when they put that brand new baby on my belly I instantly fell in love with him. I had that connection with him right away and my heart burst with love and happiness, tears of joy streamed down my face. It was then that I finally sighed a breath of relief.

Today, that baby is 18 months old. That baby, who caused me so much stress and anxiety during the very long nine months I carried him, has grown into a full out rough and tumble boy who still causes me a lot of stress, just not in the same way. He's sweet and compassionate and says, "hold you momma?" "Kiss you momma?" while he steals toys from his brother and flashes a smile when his brother gets upset. He's the same baby who runs wild through the house but stops to give a hug to his brother as he passes him. He's full of spunk, curiosity, laughter and energy. He's delightful to be around, he's funny, smart and witty. He acts like he's at least two and will not take any kind of restraint, and will accept any challenge before him. And though there are days he gives Max and the Wild Things a run for their money, he's exactly what I wanted in another child. When he looks at me I can see his soul. When he smiles the whole room feels warmer, and when he is around his brother I know that Eric and I made the right choice to try again and have another baby. We've got two amazing children who love one another, are close in age, and are the best of friends.

Today, when I look at my life and what I have, I often think about the one I lost and if there will be any more. I don't know at this point. I do know that I am perfectly happy with what I have and the family dynamic we've got. I am fearful of having another child, but not that I won't love it, oh God would I love it, no, I'm just afraid that I may never have a social life or sleep again and I'm afraid of the things that three boys could do to my house. Or worse, what if next time it was twin boys!

The whole experience of pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood is one amazing journey. It's filled with ups and downs, loss and reward, sanity and "WHAT THE HECK WAS I THINKING".  I'll forever have to say, "Three pregnancies, two children" but I won't have to be sad about it. I can sit back in that uncomfortable doctor's office chair and say that the two boys that I have are the best gifts anyone could ask for and the one I lost taught me the most valuable lesson world.

Today, on Theodor's 18 month birthday, I sit back and realize just how quickly time flies. One day I'm sitting in a hospital bed holding my second son and before I know it I'll be celebrating his 18th birthday and high school graduation. There's no time to go back, life moves on, and at times I have to remind myself that instead of wondering what could have been, I have to focus on what is here and now. That miscarriage will always be in the back of my mind and a part of me, but  right now, I've got my hands full of rocks, feathers, fruit snacks and cars and all I have time to think about how I'm going to get Theo his next snack and Hank to wipe his own bottom. It's odd to think that a miscarriage can be a blessing, at least in my experience it was. I learned a lot about myself, my family and of course, without it, I wouldn't have had Theo. And that's enough to be thankful for.

Minutes old

18 moths old

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