Several weeks ago, I was at the playground chatting with one of the moms. We were trying to remember the first time we met. We recalled it was at a mutual friend’s BBQ and I pointed out that she had just found out she was pregnant with Max (her second child). The conversation meandered somehow as we were watching our girls squeal and run around and she said, “so, you just have Monchichi?” I said, “yes, just Monchichi” and she followed up, “so, you guys are done?”
It was a matter-of-fact question with no judgment or harsh tone behind it. In fact, it’s a natural conclusion and since I’ve gotten the question before, I wasn’t caught off guard.
I responded, “well, I don’t know. We had a couple miscarriages last year, so we’ll have to see what happens this year.”
A look of oh god (the kind of oh god, like when my husband asked someone when her baby’s due and she told him she’s not pregnant) crossed her face and as she grappled with some words, I quickly reassured her that I’m fine.
After a year of ups and downs, I really am fine. Had I been blogging last year, I might have chronicled the saga of my miscarriages that ultimately led to my surprising decision to try a single round of IVF last December (which did not work). However, all of that seems so long ago and I’m in a different place today.
Given my friend’s expression on her face, I realized that it’s easy to conclude that I might be uncomfortable or sensitive about other’s pregnancies. To the contrary, I continue to revel in my friends’ pregnancies. I love hearing the details of how the pregnancies are going, if it’s different from their last one, what they’re craving, names they’re thinking of, touching the bellies, and holding their babies. Because I still feel connected to that process, I love talking with and sharing in my friends’ joys of motherhood.
I feel compelled to say unequivocally, that in our journey for another child, there has not been a single moment where we have not felt grateful, happy and blessed for Monchichi. We actually say to one another, “we are so blessed.” While it sounds so saccharin and “Little House on the Prairie-ish,” telling each other that we feel fortunate, I know that it reminds us not to take Monchichi for granted and to feel content with what life has given us. I know that couples are struggling to even have one child. Monchichi’s sweet, lively spirit that makes our heart smile every day is why last year’s challenges did not get anywhere near crippling or heartbreaking. Disappointing, yes. A few tears, yes. Frustrating, yes.
Frustrating, because with Monchichi, I got pregnant on the first try, had an easy pregnancy and was blessed with a healthy, beautiful baby girl. Not surprisingly, we were lulled into a false sense of ‘geez, that was easy’ and decided to wait a year before trying again. That’s where being a 40+ mom tripped me up. As I’ve learned, you can’t get around the age of your eggs. No matter how youthful moms appear to be today, a woman’s eggs look and act their age. Sorry ladies, no botox for your eggs.
Because it was so easy and wonderful with Monchichi, I was stymied that this was becoming insurmountable. For a type-A person like me, the idea that I couldn’t make it happen, no matter what I did, added to the frustration even though I knew intellectually, having a baby is one of life’s many things you cannot control. We even took the unimaginable step of undergoing one round of IVF, which seemed so drastic, invasive and expensive. But with IVF, I knew that I could look back and tell myself that we did everything possible and would never wonder, what-if.
At the end of last December, when we received confirmation that the IVF procedure was unsuccessful, the process of closure began inching forward. However, I am finding that my definition of closure is a little murky.
For the most part, closure equals acceptance. I accept that my vision and idea of what our family would be like has changed. I had envisioned that the kids might argue whether Santa was real, whisper silly things under a blanket tent, play together and yes, argue like crazy which I believe, teaches one so much. I accept that I will have to find ways to ensure that Monchichi doesn’t expect to be the center of the world even though she has our undivided attention and love. I accept that time is whizzing by and each of Monchichi’s milestones I witness, will, in all likelihood, be the last and only time I’ll experience such milestones. But I happily accept that with Monchichi as my only child, I will not be buying that minivan and can get a car that doesn’t scream “I’m one step away from wearing mom jeans!”
I find however, that closure does not necessarily mean I have to extinguish hope. I would be lying if I said I didn’t still have a smidgen of hope especially since I know technically, there is still a possibility (albeit a remote one) that I could get pregnant again. The difference now — as opposed to last year — is that it’s a realistic hope, closely managed so that it still falls within the confines of closure. Like a fluttering “maybe?” that floats by for a few seconds, but dissipates quickly so that it doesn’t have a chance to become a disappointment. A hope where I continue to be proactive in making certain lifestyle changes to boost the healthy quality of my eggs; but if nothing comes of it, the efforts will just make me healthier.
Since we’re in an ambiguous place where Monchichi is at an age that people wonder if we’re having another child and yet, at the same time, assume we’re done, the closure process involves being open about where we are. Last year, because the emotional roller coaster was pretty raw, it didn’t feel possible to expose each and every step with everyone. Being able to talk about it now, in the past tense feels natural, comfortable and brings clarity to my journey towards closure.
On the heels of Mother’s Day, my heart could not feel fuller and my family feels complete.