My rainbow baby turned five last week, and there is something momentous about that, because he isn’t a baby anymore. He will graduate from preschool in a couple of months and we will begin homeschool kindergarten, alongside his fourth grade sister. They will fuss at and love on one another, fiercely, and I will fuss right back at them and remind them what a gift they are to us and to each other. They keep me hopping, and if I had a nickel for every time I’ve been told I have my hands full, I would be able to afford Starbucks on a regular basis.
I’m sure that most mothers watch wistfully as their babies grow up, remembering the days of diapers and milk-drunk sleepiness and chubby cheeks and legs. But there is a different kind of special when it’s the baby you thought you would never have, when it’s the baby who was light in the darkness…and when it’s very likely your last, even though you wish with all your heart that it were not so.
That is my situation. My son is my second living child. We lost three babies between him and his older sister and then, when he was two, we got pregnant again, without trying. We thought the days of infertility and loss were behind us. But then that baby died, and then it happened again a few months later, and then nothing. It’s been over two years and we’ve had no more pregnancies. And since I am now firmly in my mid-forties, I may very well not have any more babies, in Heaven or on earth, and that thought just makes me sad.
Because my hands and arms are indeed full of my children on earth, but they are also empty of my children in Heaven and of the children who have never existed. I say that my heart and my hands and my home will always be big enough for one more. And yet, for me, I’m not absolutely certain that one more will ever be enough. If God were to give me a third child on Earth, I imagine that would whet my longing for a fourth, and then a fifth.
I know that is not true for everyone. Some women are perfectly happy with one, or two, or whatever finite number of children is the size of their ideal family. But I have two things going against me in this realm: I have always wanted a big family, and that “ideal” family vision died with my daughter, when for the first time in my life, something happened that I could not fix. I would never have the family on Earth that I had dreamed of, because part of it was already in Heaven. But my heart still longs to get as close to it as possible.
So even though it may seem crazy, we still hope, and try, and pray, and wait to see what God has in store for us. We could have our own acronym – trying to conceive after loss after a pregnancy after loss (TTCALAPAL?). And in the meantime, I live in this weird contradiction, this juxtaposition of What I Dreamed Of, What Might Have Been, What Is, and What Could Still Be. Where my arms are both full and empty. Where I hope and pray for just one more, knowing full well that I will always want just one more. Where I feel foolish to hope, but too stubborn to give up and give in (and besides, God specializes in giving miracle children to those who seem barren). Embracing the journey I am on, but also fighting like crazy to bring new life into this broken world and to sustain and nurture the lives He has entrusted to me on Earth.
My children are growing up, including my rainbow boy, and as I watch them, I am such a mixture of happy, proud, longing, sad, remembering, and hoping and praying that there might yet be one more to bring home.
What about you?