One Child, Two Miscarriages, and the Family of My Dreams

I have always loved kids. When I would draw pictures of my future family as a little girl, there were always at least three children. As the oldest of three myself, I helped care for my younger siblings. I started babysitting as soon as anyone would hire me; volunteered to help with the toddlers at my church; and took a special class in high school that taught childcare skills by operating as an actual daycare. And even though I generally excelled in academics, if someone asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, the answer was always, “A mother.”

My husband is also one of three children and truly enjoys kids as well, but despite all our childhood dreams, we ended up with one child.

Our daughter Meagan was not exactly planned. We were very young (neither of us had yet reached our twenties) and unprepared, but we were definitely happy. Several years later, when we were married, settled, and a bit more experienced, we decided we were ready to add to our little family. We chose to let nature take its course and see what happened.

After several months, I began having familiar symptoms, such as fatigue, breast tenderness, and a spotty period. I excitedly took a pregnancy test, but it was negative. Disappointed, I chalked up my symptoms to wishful thinking. However, as the weeks went on, my symptoms only seemed to progress. Another negative test left me somewhat concerned. When I missed another period, I headed to the doctor.

She performed a pelvic exam and then asked if I would mind taking another pregnancy test. When I did, she informed me that I was indeed pregnant but didn’t know why my home tests had turned up negative...little did I care at that moment. My husband and I were ecstatic and couldn’t wait to tell our daughter she was going to be a big sister.

That night when I was sleeping, I awoke to painful cramps and heavier bleeding. I called the on-call doctor, who told me I might be having a miscarriage and, if so, it would happen naturally. He let me know that if the pain became more than I could handle, I could call him back and he would meet me at the hospital. I was heartbroken and hoping against hope things would change.

A short while later, the pain was so severe that I was doubled over and vomiting. Thankfully, my mother-in-law was staying with us at the time. We left Meagan in her care and rushed to the hospital.

The doctor performed an ultrasound and delivered the bad news: I was not miscarrying; rather, my pregnancy was ectopic and my fallopian tube had ruptured. It was life-threatening. I needed surgery to save myself, but nothing could be done to save my baby.

After mourning our loss, we discovered I had PCOS and fibroids, which made conceiving more challenging. A few years later, we decided to start the process of becoming foster parents with the ultimate goal of adopting one or more children closer to Meagan’s age (she was in elementary school by that time).

Our paperwork was turned in, a social worker had started our home study and we had signed up for classes when we found out I was pregnant again. We opted to put the licensing process on hold and focus on the pregnancy. My doctor monitored me closely and soon discovered I was experiencing another ectopic pregnancy. Once again, we were devastated.

Needing time to heal emotionally and to decide whether we should continue trying to conceive or focus on foster parenting, we put everything on the back burner. The first decision was made for us when I ended up in the hospital requiring emergency surgery once more. The fibroids had caused me to hemorrhage and I had to have a hysterectomy.

Surprisingly, knowing there was no way I would become pregnant again gave me a strange sense of peace. Again, it took a little time to come to terms with things, but after about a year, we decided to resume the process of becoming foster parents.

That is when we got the news that my father, who had been battling cancer for several years, had taken a turn for the worse. He could no longer live alone, so we brought him to spend his remaining months with us.

Once more, the painful loss and emotional exhaustion we all felt required time to heal. By that point, Meagan was almost in high school and had lost any interest she had in becoming a sibling. As these things do, the pain and loss faded over time. I always enjoyed being Meagan’s mom and knew I was blessed to have her. I licked my wounds in private and found other outlets into which I could pour myself, such as writing and working for a non-profit foster care and adoption agency.

One of the upsides to becoming a mom at a young age is that you’re more likely to become a young grandmother (at least, I saw it as an upside). When I turned 43, I earned the wonderful title of “Grammy”. Now, my first grandson has just started kindergarten and has a younger brother and sister at home, as well.

So perhaps the three children in my childhood drawings were not meant to be my own, but rather my precious grandbabies who have filled our home with toys, treats, and messes; and our hearts with love. Life might not always go as planned, but there is always something good just around the corner.

What was your ideal number of children – and how does it compare to your family now? Share your stories with us!

Tags : confessions   miscarriage   

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