“It’s not fair!”
“How come this keeps happening?”
These are a few of the less graphic questions I asked the Universe when trying for our family. Wallowing in self-pity was easy to do. As was–I’m ashamed to admit–questioning why others “deserved” their family. Pregnancy loss messes with your mind in every way imaginable. While I would never wish losing a baby on another person, I questioned everything, and everyone. Thankfully, I had a fantastic therapist with whom I worked hard to focus on me, and my situation. She often reminded me that you never know what someone has been through to get to where they are today. A point I still try to lead with in the day-to-day.
Embracing the Unknown
The thing is, no one knows what’s to come in life, let alone pregnancy. And this is what makes the pregnancy after loss (PAL) journey all the more scary. We can no longer take things for what they appear. We wonder when the other shoe will drop. And each day is filled with hoping and wishing, while living in fear and panic. At some point, if we’re lucky, we accept that we can’t change what has happened. We realize, however, that we can change how we look at what’s happening right now. Perhaps that’s why this quote by Cheryl Strayed (best-selling author of Wild and former host of the Dear Sugar podcast) resonated with me:
“You don’t have a right to the cards you believe you should have been dealt.
You have an obligation to play the hell out of the ones you’re holding.”
Each day after loss, and during PAL, I had to make a choice: stay in fear and wonder why might have been, or take a chance at what could be. In reality, this didn’t feel like a choice because I knew I was meant to (and needed to) be a parent. On some levels I think we fight like hell to get what we want because of everything we’ve been through.
Now that I’m fortunate enough to have three boys here with us, I feel the obligation to make the most of it. C, J and E represent all of our children. They represent those hopes and wishes. Because of that, the experiences and milestones we get to have with each of them is even more meaningful. At the same time, that obligation can also feel heavy. Loss parents are different from typical parents, and yet, we’re the same. We are beyond grateful for the chance to parent our children, and we still experience the same stressors and challenges of parenthood. Allowing myself to be “typical” is a balance I struggle with from time to time.
While I still may question my cards on occasion, I never take them for granted. I’ve experienced the lowest of lows, highest of highs, and everything in between. And you know what? I’m still here. I have my good days and bad. I’m often too hard on myself, and don’t always handle situations in the best way. But I will continue to show up. Because every day, I remind myself of how far I’ve come, and what I’m capable of. I may not know what’s ahead, but I do know I can handle whatever the cards are in front of me.