This was the debate my hubby and I were having last night over a glass of wine. Perhaps you can guess which side of the debate each of us were on? I do, he doesn’t. It is that simple. And therefore it is so complicated. It seems we cannot effectively have the conversation about another child without seriously reflecting on what it all means that our son died, what we have taken from this experience so far, and where we go from here. We were “done” having children at four, and felt very pushed at the idea of five. Given our last pregnancy was a surprise and was a serious miracle at that, it seemed out of our hands and meant to be. We were thrilled! Our worlds both changed first because he lived, and then entirely because he died. These changes have been uniquely profound for me, as the mother in the equation. Not that I believe my husband has not been changed. He has, but our experience of this event has impacted us differently.
The physical and emotional connection I had with my baby was so immediate and tangible. Nothing about Samuel was theoretical. He was real time for me. Every kick and turn and twitch I felt in my own body and heart all at the same time, and his health and safety was mine alone to ensure. Or so I thought. The loss of him did not protect me from all of the post partum experiences a mother of a new baby has. I just didn’t get to have him to share them with. My body had no outlet for the hormonal changes I was enduring. It has been the single most painful thing I have ever gone through in my life. And because of that, the lessons I am learning from this experience have been life altering.
When I reflect back on the loss of our little one, I can tell you that I had a sneaking suspicion, a funny sense, something that didn’t feel right, throughout my pregnancy. Only in retrospect does it all fit together and I now recognize that this unsettled feeling foreshadowed that Samuel was not going to be with us in the end. None of my gut feelings really served to change the outcome or prevent what happened to our baby, because his death wasn’t predictable or preventable. This is the medically validated truth. I am at peace with this fact now most of the time. Yet I am told by an experienced obstetrician that 99% of the mothers in his practice who have had still born babies subsequent to other live births, say that they too just didn’t feel right. They had a funny feeling, but they just didn’t know what it was. Something felt distinctly different. Only later can we know what to attribute that feeling to.
Because of this experience, I have resolved to reconnect with my gut feeling in a very intimate way. I am purposely tuning into this intuition every day and giving it more airtime when I am trying to make decisions, big or small. It is like Samuel is telling me “Mommy, listen to your heart. Trust your instincts about every single thing. Know that your mind cannot make sense of all of what you feel in a place that is deeper than your thoughts can reach. Be in synch with your intuition and faith and follow it where it takes you. Even if it doesn’t make sense.” I imagine this is his voice speaking, because this is the most life changing and profound lesson my baby boy gave to me. This was his gift.
So now my gut feeling is strongly telling me to go forth and make a baby! The trouble is, my husband has to agree with my gut feeling’s advice. That’s the tough part. For him another child doesn’t “make sense.” My gut feeling doesn’t care. But as a responsible adult, I know that I must put a gag order on Mr Gut Feeling for a moment, and try to assess the idea of another baby from a pragmatic standpoint. Husband is worried that I want a baby to replace the one we lost. This seems a reasonable and even necessary thing to suggest, I am sure. It must even seem like a responsible question to ask. But it makes me want to shout, “If it were only that simple, it would be done already!” I swear with my right hand on the Bible, I am fully aware that replacing Samuel is not possible. We are not talking about say, the dead cactus in the living room. You pop it out of a pot, toss it, and in goes the new cactus.
Nope, this is not the same thing.
However, losing a baby for whom you have prepared and made space, does leave a void in your life. That space is his alone and it will always be there. Protecting that space is your job as your child’s parent. You say his name, show his picture, honour his memory and talk about him freely. In doing so, the space continues to exist and remains only his forever. But losing your baby also opens up the idea that there is room. Maybe even room you didn’t think you had before, and now you know you do. You hold the space in your life for a while and try to imagine different things that might fit there. For me, the space is there for a new baby. Nothing else fits like that does. And nothing about that is pragmatic. That is my loud mouthed gut feeling weighing in. I try to ignore it for a moment, so that I can think logically. I ask myself, “If Samuel was here today, would we try to have another child?” The answer is no. “Did we ever plan for five?” No. “Would having another baby facilitate more life balance?” Unequivocally no. “Would having five be financially beneficial?” Duh? HELL no. You don’t have kids because they make sense financially, ever. “Can we afford one more?” Probably, unless something went totally wrong, but the tally sheet is still in favour of the status quo. So why in the world are we even having this discussion?
Because it is a deep and unrelenting desire. I feel it past the tips of my toes down to the depth of my soul. And from there I feel peaceful and things feel right. It is that simple. There are practical disadvantages to having another baby in the short term for sure. But I also feel more willing and able to problem solve some inconveniences. In our case these concerns are not remotely insurmountable.
So that is it. I want another baby. He is not convinced. Now what? It is now just hubby and me and the bottle of wine. We still aren’t on the same page. Let’s hope we can both find some way to come together in a way that respects both of our hearts’ desires.
Wish us luck.