Almost 10 years and 10 babies into our journey to become parents, it’s a little bittersweet to think we’re done. We have seven babies in Heaven, being loved on by three of the sweetest grandparents anyone ever could have had, and three little boys here on Earth, creating chaos most of their waking hours. Because we’re practicing Catholics, we don’t believe in any permanent methods of birth control, nor do we believe in using the pill, IUD, etc., so while there’s a chance we could have more babies, we’ve made the decision for my heart and my health (and maybe our sanity) that we need to do our best to end our journey through infertility.
I would have all the babies (just ask my thankfully-more-rational side I married), but that hasn’t been God’s plan for us. I was born to be a mama and as hard as many of the days are, I wouldn’t change them for the world. I relish in listening to Matthew narrate a game of Uno (although we’re known to make him play “Silent Uno,” too), never knowing who Mason is going to come down as (today, it was an astronaut), and watching Maddox chase after them both as fast as his wobbly little legs will take him. These little boys God has blessed me with are my world. I couldn’t be more grateful to have them to snuggle and wrestle and teach, but I think a lot of that gratitude comes from knowing what I lost.
Looking back at our infertility journey, it’s hard, sometimes, to have the grace and understanding friends ask of me when they’re “struggling” to get pregnant after only a few months of trying or, on the opposite end of the spectrum, when they’re complaining of getting pregnant “AGAIN.” I try to remind myself, though, that their pain is their pain. Just because someone else lost a leg, doesn’t mean your broken leg doesn’t hurt, right? And, even more than that, it’s apparent that God’s timing was always there for us. Despite moving 9 times in 7 years, 3 deployments and countless TDYs with the Air Force, and more trips with the airlines than I can count, Ryan has never missed one of our sweet babe’s births– despite spending significantly more than half of our marriage away from our family when you add up his time gone. We’ve always had a home to call our own before we had the baby (even if we had to drive 12 hours 9 days after a baby one time to get to said house). Even with job insecurity at times after the Air Force, he has always been able to provide for our family.
The truth is, though, that even as I’m grateful for God’s protection and His timing, the pain of miscarriage never really goes away. It dulls, like any other grief, but it also comes raging back at the most seemingly random times. I’m told routinely that our “spacing” of the boys is “perfect.” That may be true, but it hurts every time it’s mentioned because it implies the seven other babies would have messed up our “perfectly timed” family. When a friend tries to discount what I’ve been through with our infertility journey because they’re hurting in a different way, I struggle to show them love. Being asked whether we were going to try for a girl or if I’m sad I only have boys, while in my heart, acknowledging that, because of infertility, we likely have daughters we haven’t met. Knowing I have three beautiful, perfect, amazing babies here does not ease the pain of knowing I have seven I have yet to meet.
Seven times, I’ve gotten excited about a new life in our family, and seven times, I’ve had my heart shattered. Seven times, I’ve had to love on friends who were blessed with joy, and seven times, I’ve had to swallow my grief for them (something I haven’t always been good at, but always attempted). Seven times, I’ve thought of names and dreamed of room decorations, and seven times, I’ve had to save them for the next one.
I’m not sure I’ll ever stop imagining which of us those babies would look more like (let’s be honest, though– I didn’t have a chance of a mini-me anyway!) or what personality they’d have. I know one day I’ll get to find out, but until then, my earthly heart will carry seven little babies in it, unseen to the world, forgotten by most who knew they existed, but never, never unloved by me.