When Mark and I decided to start trying for a baby, we had no idea what we were in for. We didn’t know how long it would take us to fall pregnant (not very long!) and we didn’t anticipate our initial reaction being one of shock and distress – not about the pregnancy exactly, but for all the changes that were suddenly upon us which we didn’t quite feel ready for. We didn’t know how common miscarriage is in the first trimester or that soon we would be joining the 30% of couples who experience it.
We didn’t know the pain of betrayal that you feel when nature takes away something she has given – or that our experience would reaffirm, too late, how much we wanted that baby. We weren’t prepared for the lingering sadness over the next months, the empty space where our new little family was meant to be. We couldn’t anticipate the intensity of relief when, after falling pregnant again 6 months later, we passed the looming D-Day of 8 weeks and felt like we’d triumphed over an unknown adversity.
We didn’t know the joy we’d feel when, at our 12-week scan, we were told we had a healthy little girl. We thought we’d be freaked out when she started moving – we never thought we’d grin at each other in delight the first time we both felt her kick. We never considered the possibility that we’d have complications the second time around – that nature could be cruel enough to trick us twice. We didn’t know how to process the news at our 20-week scan, where they told us our little girl had choroid plexus cysts on her brain, and that the condition is only found in a small percentage of normal babies. We were clueless and helpless, waiting like animals caught in a trap for the follow up that would tell us whether they were an indicator of a defective condition. We didn’t consciously decide to believe she was ok, we just took the only option we could comprehend and focussed on that – the alternative was simply beyond our ability to grasp. And when, 3 weeks later, we were told she was among the 95% where the cysts were harmless and were disappearing on their own, we weren’t prepared for the dazzling radiance of happiness we felt and our renewed determination to get this baby over the finish line.
If someone close to us had told us this story before we fell pregnant, it wouldn’t have had a major impact. What I’ve learned over the last year is that the decision to have kids and the process that each couple goes through is an intensely personal one. Everybody’s story is different, and many of those stories are coloured by loss, heartache and longing. No one can understand exactly what you go through except for the two people in it. For us, it has brought us closer than I would’ve ever imagined.
So this is a letter to my little family, a reminder of what we’ve endured so far and how strong it’s made us.
To our tiny baby who was never meant to be – you’re gone but you’ll never be forgotten. You will always be loved.
To Tarka, my precious pittie – you licked my tears during long nights of grieving and comforted me with your determined snuggles. You make life’s hardships so much easier to bear by making me smile when I think I have no more smiles left.
To my soon-to-be-born little pixie – no more surprises for the next 3 months, ok! Stay safe and healthy in there. Your dad and I and your big fur-sister can’t wait to meet you.
And to my husband Mark – I’m rarely at a loss for words, but you leave me speechless. I would do all this and then some a million times over for you. Your soul gives me life – actual life. I couldn’t make it one step without you.
And to everyone who has suffered loss and heartache in the miraculous yet scary journey of having kids – you’re not alone, and there is always hope.