I just got home from the supermarket. On my way back, I think I had an epiphany. I think I can go to the hospital and meet my niece. I mean, I reserve the right to change my mind, but I think I can do it.
This afternoon I watched a very moving video about a woman my age who got married today. A woman who has only a few months to live, and, in her own words, “chooses life.” I have often thought about people who, in the face of death, suddenly understand how precious life is. In some small way, I have often envied their zest, their zeal, their understanding of what’s important. I’ve almost been envious of their facing their mortality and have found myself thinking, on more than one occasion, wouldn’t it be nice to have this wisdom without the illness? These days I understand that I may have skipped the illness, but I can use my sad experience of miscarriage as an opportunity to gain considerable wisdom. I’ve suspected this all along — after all, this blog is called On Fecund Thought — but now I see it staring me squarely in the face.
I reached a very raw and vulnerable point. The next thought that popped into my head was this: if P-SIL, with her three losses, can get pregnant again, then so can I. Maybe there is hope for me too.
I acknowledged the part of me that wanted the first delivery ward I set foot on to be because I was the one in labour. I wanted the first newborn that I held to be my own. And then I remembered that the first brand new newborn I held was on the first delivery ward I stepped into — that baby was my sister, born when I was almost 14. And then I remembered the love letter I wrote my sister, whom I affectionately call Bubs, this past December on her 21st birthday, an edited version of which I present here:
The relationship I have with Bubs is the closest thing I’ve had to being a parent — and she’ll be the first to grumble that I’m like a third parent… When I found out our mother was pregnant I was actually not happy at all. I was 13 and starting to go through teenage angst: for the duration of my mum’s pregnancy, I vowed that I would put some sort of curse (where from, I had no idea) on her the first time I held her.
I’m glad to say that Bubs and I have often since laughed over this ridiculous curse idea. Because when I met her, all those jealous feelings simply melted away. I stepped into the hospital room where my mother and Bubs were sleeping. My mother, still sedated after the caesarian, outstretched her arm with a hospital bracelet on it and murmured She has my hands. I cautiously approached the crib and gingerly took this tiny bundle in my arms and looked down at this sleeping newborn… my sister.
Like all newborns, she was an odd-looking, scrawny little thing. But she also had a stitch in her scalp from where the surgeon had accidentally cut her. Plus, her skin was peeling, her nose was dotted with whiteheads, and her eyes crusty with conjunctivitis. But she opened them and looked up at me and smiled. She was the most beautiful creature I had ever seen and I knew (as I had secretly hoped I would) that there was no way I could ever curse her. In that moment, she waved her tiny heart at me and I fell in sisterly love.
Like a moment in which my heart stood still, I suddenly understood that the best way I can honour my Bean and his memory is not to disassociate myself from this new baby, but to love her and be the best aunt I can possibly be. Maybe I can be grateful, even, for the opportunity to hold a baby and shower her with love.
In the car on my way home, I began to laugh and cry at the same time. I couldn’t wait to get home and tell DH about my epiphany, that I am on the right path. And you know what? As if to confirm this realisation, every single traffic light on the way home was green.
Instead of marking off 30 weeks on my pregnancy calendar today, I am on CD4 and getting ready to pee on OPKs tomorrow. Instead of bonding with other women in person, in prenatal classes, I am bonding with other women online over our losses — whether pregnancies, fertility, or both. It’s not where I thought I would be, almost a year after coming off the pill.
But you know what? I think the grief that unites us has made for real connections. I know that I will still grieve the loss of my Bean until at least October 5th or until I am pregnant again, but tonight I feel like instead of living in mourning, I can be grateful for the circle of friends I have scattered across the globe, at various stages of growing their families, who take the time to read, comment, cheer me on, and accept me as I am.
This is me, choosing life.