I’ve been being a hermit these last couple of months. No writing and no social media (ok, a few peeks at what’s happen over there, but no interaction). I’ve needed to step away from things and try to be with myself, let a few things shift and settle. And the main thing that is shifting and settling is the question of whether to try for more children. I spoke about my hope despite multiple losses in a guest post last Autumn on Jennie Agg’s blog, The Uterus Monologue and at that time I was feeling ready to give things another go. It had taken nearly a year after my last missed miscarriage for me to get there, but I really did feel that I was ready. Then we had an allergy scare with Benjamin over Christmas. It turned out to be harmless, but there was a 20 minute period of time that I thought there was a real possibility we could lose him. He could suffocate in my arms and there would be nothing I could do about it. This had the after effect of closing down my desire to try for another child, again.
Anyone who has been on the trying for a baby roller coaster knows how all consuming it is, especially if you’ve experience miscarriage or termination for medical reasons or still birth or infertility/IVF. Suddenly, the thought that my attention could be diverted to this emotional and mental greed monster – taking away precious energy and resources from Benjamin, just didn’t seem like a good idea. I wanted to stay as cool as a cucumber with trying to conceive again, but I know how difficult this is. And what if I did get pregnant and then spent the next eight and a half months in permanent anxiety (which, let’s face it, I would). How would this effect Benjamin? And if the baby died, again, how would I be as a mother then? And then, what if something happened to him, while I was fixated on having another child? Or in amongst grief again? Is it right to be chasing this non-existent child, when I have one right here in front of me?
Talk about a head banger!
Last summer, I had made a bit of a deal with myself, with input from my therapist, to follow my heart with this story of making a family. The idea was to go with what felt right in the moment. Rather than making any definite decisions about trying again or not trying again, I would attempt to ride out my feelings about it, in real time. It’s the more difficult path. A clear decision to not try again means a decision is made. Move on. The path I’m attempting leaves everything open. In reality it meant that I had opened myself up to the possibility of another child, to then have life show me (yet again) how fragile our existence really is, which made me shut the door (but not lock it) on trying again for another child.
Poor Charlie! It’s a good thing he’s so kind and gentle and patient. He wasn’t so sure about this less defined ‘go with the flow attitude’, but he has all of the above mentioned qualities which help. He’s actually begun to feel calmer about this windy path that we have no map for.
For about three months after Christmas, I had been in a state of pause, sitting with this idea of ‘another child’. Then I pick up Julia Samuel’s book Grief Works. She’s a founding patron of Child Bereavement UK, a charity that has support us as a family every since Luna died. To be honest, I skimmed most of it and just read the stories I was interested in reading. I would recommend it for anyone experiencing grief, but especially those who may be trying to support someone in their grief. There was a part in it when she talks about the idea of the only child. How the word ‘only’ has a connotation of not being enough. This dropped into me like a cool, smooth stone, with a little clattering sound, it hit the other stones of wisdom piled up inside of me. I realised I have been carrying around this feeling that somehow my feeling that Benjamin is enough (more than enough) is wrong. How can one child be enough? I had ideas of being a mother of three, two boys and a girl, all about 2-3 years apart in age. They would be clever and creative, kind and compassionate, funny and friendly. With warm smiles and big hearts. These dreams are very powerful, they are often with us for a long time, we become convinced they are the truth. The one truth.
My feeling has been, for a quite awhile now, that Benjamin is enough. It’s a simple feeling, but I have tried to make it more complicated and then because it isn’t actually complicated, decided it must be a lie. I have felt the outward judgement of society that only children are not enough and somehow deficient in some way. Or, that I must be a selfish mother, because I don’t have more then one (living) child (I actually had another mother once say to me, when she found out we only have one child, that ‘yes, well, it’s so much harder with two’). Do people really judge in this way, or am I making that judgement on myself, through their eyes? Probably it’s both, their judgement and mine. I’ve decided to start calling Benjamin our Everything Child. I have started saying it to myself, in my head and just yesterday, I told Charlie what I have been thinking and calling Benjamin to myself in the last couple of months. It made him cry (a good cry, he liked it). I’m writing it here for whoever to read and see. Benjamin is enough. He is all of those things that I thought my three imaginary children would be and more, because I’ve realised it’s not really possible to imagine what a human being will actually be like – or at least my imagination is only capable of half a job, if that. I have a suspicion that it doesn’t matter how many children you have, that they are all your everythings. Which is why if parents have experienced the death of one of their children, the pain is not lessened by the fact they have other children. A unique ‘everything’ has been lost and can never be replaced.
Benjamin is everything, not ‘only’. And whether we decide at some point in the future to try again and whether that trying transpires into a living child, he will always be everything. I want him to grow up feeling and knowing that whatever happens in our family, he has always been and forever will be enough.
You can read about some of my miscarriages here and here and there are lots of articles about Luna, but my favourite is this one, here. Part of this story is how I am coming to view my unconventional motherhood. I recently wrote about this here. Please visit my useful links page for some links to organisations that can help you through a difficult time in pregnancy and pregnancy loss. You will also find some very good blogs from other loss mums there too. If you are suffering right now, I’m sorry. Know that you are not alone, even if it feels like you are.
As always, thank you for reading.