Thursday, April 24, 2003

Baby, you ought to be in pictures…..

I read a story (An Exercise in Fertility) in my ever continuing journey through my new book about a woman's brutally honest experience with being barren and so desperately wanting a baby that she would do, and did, anything. The story was very moving and made me realize that within the subject of babies and fertility perhaps lie the most painful experiences a woman can muster her courage to get through.

Having a child is undeniably one of the most incredible and mysterious powers that women possess. I would never dare go so far as to suggest you aren’t a woman without being a mother (I know personally of several woman who do not desire children), but I do think that womanhood is illustrated especially well by motherhood.

I personally never had any problems conceiving, and in actuality my son was conceived on the very first “try”. I merely decided that I wanted a baby very badly and that it was time. Almost too easily, like women before me for millions of years. But for the women around me, friends and sisters, I recognize it has not always been so.

My best friend had her first miscarriage when I was pregnant with my daughter. Our babies would have been born the same month, similar to the scant 6 weeks that divide our first babies, both boys. Instead an early tragedy prevented this, and it was perhaps never fully mourned due to the birth of my own baby. It almost seemed taboo.

I remember the moment the reality hit home. It was when my best friend held my daughter, lovingly, in her arms and with tears silently welling in her eyes quietly said

"She should have been mine"

that I felt an undeniable pain pierce my heart…. almost the worst pain I have ever felt, like I had somehow let down someone I would have done anything for. My joy seemed at the expense of her own and there were days I could not forgive myself for it, even though no guilt would ever have been implied. I could only hope she could forgive me.

There is nothing like the guilt a woman feels when she has a baby and another woman, close to her, can not. When that other woman is your best friend, whom you have loved since childhood, it is worse. It still haunts me, at times like this, when something triggers the memory and the experience creeps back.

When my best friend endured her second miscarriage, the effect was devastating to us all. She was 5 1/2 months pregnant, after a couple of years of yearning, trying, wanting. Five months is a long time. We had already made a place in our lives and world for this person, loving this little he or she that would soon grace our life. It's hard to understand the pain that comes with an event like this - we had lost someone tangible yet it hardly seemed real. Like someone had dangled a special prize in front of us and yanked it away at the last moment, gone as if it were never offered. My heart cried.

The good news is my best friend did eventually have two more children and in true Mormon fashion is about to adopt two more children. The author of the story I read, along with her husband, adopted a baby girl. Through the special pains that wanting and attempting to have children may bring each woman, there are glorious and amazing triumphs to be celebrated. My children are my greatest achievements. Family is an art form.

Children are amazing and beautiful expressions of how we love life and the people we are with. I have been blessed in my life with two wonderful children. They bring me a sense of happiness and purpose to my living that can’t be achieved in any other sense (as well as being challenged and downright frustrated at times!). The story has encouraged me to remember my experiences and to ponder potential future additions to my family…

My boyfriend desperately did not want to have children with his now ex wife, and I know she asserted a horrible amount of pressure, guilt and grief about this. Knowing this, I treat the topic with kid gloves, recognizing and respecting his tenderness around it. As I watch him, I see he nurtures a certain unspoken fascination with the idea of babies and children, gently mulling the idea over in his head. Sometimes we use humour to address it and sometimes we just daydream as couples are apt to do.

Yes, in the future I have a special place for another baby in my life. Not really soon, as we are in no rush, but at the perfect time. We even have a name picked out, ready for our little one. And in the meantime, as we both get busy with the business of living, we will look forward to a time when we welcome this expected miracle to share our life with us.

I believe in miracles.

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