Here's what I think every mama does: looks at those comforting statistics that say hey, once you get past about 20 weeks your chances of miscarrying drop drastically to about 2%. But that statistic becomes a huge anvil coming at your head when you realize, wait - two percent means that two mamas out of every hundred lose their baby. Then the odds seem much more real and less on your side. In fact, the odds weren't in my favor or in Wendell's favor and that is a hard thing.
We are on the verge of trying for our second baby, our third child. It is exciting and confusing and I feel a little mixed up but then again not really because I know, I know, I know in my heart that Wendell will always be with me. He'll always be my firstborn son and I will always love him and wanting another baby doesn't change any of that one iota, any more than creating Wendell and loving him changed my love for Maggie. Each of my children are individual and precious and that's set in stone.
We are barging ahead, full speed, fears cast to the wind because the alternative is to be bogged down in terror and that's not what I want. And the alternative, for me, would be to negate the joy of Wendell's existence. I'd conceive and carry him all over again a thousand times, even if I knew that every time would have the same outcome, that he'd never get to come home with us. Even though he didn't survive, he still existed. He was still part of our family. He still grew inside me and I got to hold him closer than I've ever held anyone besides Maggie. We still got to meet him, hold him in our arms, see his sweet face, tell him we loved him. The honor of all those things, the honor of knowing Wendell, that made all the pain worth it.
The doctor who delivered Wendell told us that he doesn't know why our baby died. In something like 60% of stillbirths the cause is unknown, so parents usually don't ever get a conclusive answer. Thankfully, the OB who delivered Wendell has no reservations with us trying to make another baby. I've got a point in my favor that I've carried a healthy pregnancy already - Maggie Mae is living proof - so I don't have to fear a blood clotting disorder or other issues that some mamas of stillborn babies have to tackle. I'm thankful that my body was up to the task of carrying and delivering Wendell, that it was not due to any known mechanical error on my body's side that we lost him. That gives me faith in hoping for another baby.
But I'm sure the truth is that I will have fears whenever my next pregnancy happens. I trust it will be when my body is ready, whenever that is. I'm hoping for sooner rather than later. There is still an ache in me to carry a child, to feel kicks inside me, to give birth in a home environment with my husband and midwife cheering me on, to nurse my little one, to be sleep deprived and gobsmacked in love with a tiny new creature that I created with Josh. I know fear will come with pregnancy, but doesn't it always, anyways? What I'm hoping for and praying for is to not be paralyzed with it -- and to approach that new experience, when it comes, with open hands.
When I carried Wendell in my body, I was learning the art of being present. I have such a slippery, meager grasp on that art but it began to grow as Wendell grew inside me. He was my sidekick in that venture, as my most frequent practice time was when I would finally settle into bed after a long day on my feet, with Josh sleeping soundly beside me. Without fail, the moment my body came to rest, Wendell would begin to kick my belly. I'd sit and breathe. Sometimes silent, sometimes repeating a mantra of love and gratitude and peace.
More of that, a deeper understanding of serenity and being present in the moment, is all I can hope for in my next pregnancy. I do pray I will get to meet my next child while he or she is alive and healthy. I hope for longer than just seven short months in utero. I hope I get to bring my next baby home with me. But even if seven months in utero that is all I get, even if I get less than that, I want to rejoice over that time and live it fully and love my baby even if I only get to do so from outside my body. I read a beautiful story of a woman who lost multiple babies through miscarriage and stillbirth. Rather than shutting down during her subsequent pregnancies, clamming up with fear and hoping to squash her feelings so she wouldn't feel attached to her baby, she dove in head first to making each pregnancy a beautiful time with her baby. She embraced the time she had, knowing that although she had no guarantee that she'd get to bring her baby home, at least she'd have this time with it to cherish and make the most of.
That's what I want -- to love my next baby with all I've got, just like I loved Wendell. With my whole heart and without reservations. I want to walk in gratitude rather than fear. To love hard and strong without regret, because any baby I bear is my child to love regardless of how long or short his or her days may be numbered.