1 in 4

I should have had a baby this week. Our family should’ve grown by one to reach a grand total of six. I should’ve been watching Anya and Marie fawning over a new brother or sister, while Benjamin’s adorable fascination with babies overwhelmed us all with an overload of cute. He would be the sweetest, gentlest of big brothers. And I hope someday he gets to be one; but, unfortunately, that day isn’t today.

Today, I’m grieving the loss of a child I never held or named. One that existed only for a moment in my mind’s eye. The pregnancy was unplanned, but I fell in love the second that pink line appeared. I wasn’t ready for another baby, it’s true…but during the twelve or so hours between that positive test and the first signs of miscarriage, I convinced myself otherwise. I got excited. I daydreamed. I hoped. And then, as quickly as it arrived, that hope vanished.

I spent several weeks in a pretty dark depression, one I posted about online here and there without revealing the reason. I wasn’t ready to share just yet. I usually share everything, but this was my first loss. Every other pregnancy has ended in a beautiful baby placed in my arms and sent home with me to grow into the three amazing children that we already have. I never once for a moment believed that this one would be any different…until it was. It happened in November, just before the Holidays, which I’m sure didn’t help matters.

It still feels surreal that I was pregnant at all, while at the same time it seems impossible that the pregnancy was so short-lived. The kids don’t know; it wouldn’t be right to tell them and put them through this grief, so as parents we are mourning alone. There aren’t any more babies in the cards for us right now; the housing situation and lackluster medical care options available to us here in Okinawa just aren’t something I want to deal with through another pregnancy. My last overseas birth resulted in an intense postpartum depression that kickstarted years of autistic burnout from which I’m still not entirely recovered. My health is an issue, too, and I need to figure out what is going on there before I add anything else to the mix.

But, logic doesn’t sway the longing I feel for another baby or the intense reaction to the loss of this child we weren’t expecting. The kids are always asking when they will get another sibling; they have baby fever worse than I do, it seems. It fills me with joy to know that the love they have for one another is so strong and sure, that the idea of adding another member to their bond is a given to them. There is no fear or jealousy, just…love. And a desire to nurture and care for one another that seems innate to their precious little personalities. Knowing how much it would add to their lives for this child to have become reality makes it that much more difficult for me to process and bear.

I know it’s not the thing I should want right now; that it makes absolutely no sense to even consider it until I am healthier and preferably when we are no longer stationed overseas. I think it scares me a bit to know I’ll be in my mid-30’s by then, and considering the alphabet soup of diagnoses already present in our family that rolling those dice becomes exponentially riskier by then. It makes me feel like a clock is ticking, but life circumstances dictate that I must wait and potentially miss the opportunity to have another child entirely.

I try to convince myself to be content. I have three amazing kids; I need to be okay with this being it for me. They need to be enough. And they are. I had already accepted that three might be all we can handle for a multitude of reasons…but then that test turned positive, and it just completely wrecked all of the delicate scaffolding built through the mental gymnastics of putting the tangible realities ahead of my emotional desires.

I’ve been slowly rebuilding it, knowing that the best thing I can do is concentrate on myself and providing the best possible childhood for Anya, Marie, and Benjamin right now. They are here and need their mother; that keeps me going. I know I am blessed to have never experienced the loss of a pregnancy before now. I know the statistics. But that doesn’t dull the pain of knowing what could have been.

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