Miscarriage is still something spoken of in hushed tones or never. An expecting mother who has faced life’s hardships writes a letter to her yet-to-be-born child.
The anticipated light of our lives,
I write this letter to you since I have so much to share with you and it seems like I have been waiting too long. Some of this may be too heavy for a ‘young you’. Perhaps one day, when you are old enough to understand, you will read this. But for now, I need to just pen down my thoughts. So bear with me.
I have loads to share. And I have been thinking all this for a long while now. 1.5 years, 2 miscarriages and 3 pregnancies long.
I remember the biology class when the science behind conception was first explained to me. Even as my classmates and I tried to hide our embarrassment around the topic behind the giggles, I couldn’t help but marvel at how perfect god’s process of reproduction is. The egg and sperm, half his and half hers, fertilise to make a whole human being. The nose may resemble the man and the eyes might belong to the woman. This amalgamation of two people was in my imagination a perfect testament of love.
I smile back at my teenager self. For I intuitively knew something without the life experience to go with it. At that time, I didn’t understand love. I had a crush on a Kashmiri guy, my senior at school, who in retrospect was too fair and had a hawkish nose! I know it sounds shallow but how he looked was my only connection to him.
I hadn’t yet realized how your spouse is the single biggest contributor to your happiness and success. I didn’t understand at the time what lifelong companionship meant, what it meant to love each other and depend on each other for the simple pleasures of life, how one comes to expect to lean on each other to move forward in ways such that life without the other person is incomplete.
Today, I know the feeling. I am blessed to have a spouse who is the wind beneath my wings – he simultaneously needs me, complements me and uplifts me. And having spent 5 years on the roller coaster of married life with him, we thought it was time to bring to life the ultimate testimony of our love by starting a family together.
The first time I conceived, my mind was full of ways to make this a fun and exciting time for us. I was thinking of fun ways to announce our pregnancy to our family and friends, the maternity photo shoot, baby shower and the surprise babymoon and gifts my husband would plan for me. I registered on pregnancy websites, marked the due date on my calendar, purchased a load of books to equip me with all the information I needed and took to pinning baby stuff on Pinterest.
That is, until the first ultrasound at which we were told that the shape of the baby sac was not right and that it looked unlikely that the baby would make it to term. There is no particular reason for this to happen. Nothing in science explains it except that ‘natural selection‘ ensures that what is unfit for survival is unable to grow beyond a point.
I have to be honest. The question ‘Why us?’ did come up but we took this in our stride. Both Daddy and I – scientific, rational and logical people, looked each other in the eye, accepted that ‘shit happens!’ and we needed to move on. So we spent the next 6 months reading, making travel plans, focusing on our jobs, living our lives happily, till we conceived again.
The second time, though the enthusiasm around what I now call the frills of pregnancy was subdued, I felt no fear. What had to happen, had happened and lighting doesn’t strike twice! We made it safely to 8 weeks of pregnancy and heard your heart beat at 180 beats per min. Our imaginations in overdrive, your tiny beating form looked like a caterpillar bound in its cocoon with only the head popped out. The calendars were brought out again. This time optimism was laced with caution and we waited for the next ultrasound at 12 weeks when we would finally see the silhouette of your face. Except that when the time came, we were told you had stopped developing at 9 weeks and there was now a complete absence of cardiac activity.
The realization that this was happening to us again shook us both. We started to have doubts and all of a sudden, your devil-may-care, feminist, ever-questioning mother became fearful of persecution by a society which places utmost importance on the childbearing role of women. And in this time, I cannot overemphasize the love, care and maturity that your father reassured me with.
He reminded me that we are a team and this is a team effort. As long as we decide to wade through this rough tide with our hands held together, we shall reach calmer waters together. Our togetherness, just like our happiness, will have to be a decision we make instead of us being bullied by our circumstances into a future we don’t want for ourselves.
And even as I plan to write the next few words, I am heaving an inward sigh. Because I know that when you do fall in love, you will forget all that I am saying to you now. You will forget to ask if the person you are with respects you for who you are. Will this person stand beside you to defend your value system especially when you refuse to conform to what society expects of you? You will be so driven by the initial flush of love and the hormones in your body that you may not remember to assess how the person reacts to a difference of opinion. Do they have what it takes to be respectful yet stand their ground to defend what matters to them and to you? It will be my job to remind you just as much it will be my endeavour to raise you in a way that you do all of these things for your life partner too!
But I am jumping the gun here. All that is far too distant. For now, I am pregnant for the third time. Even though the battery of tests I have gone through didn’t indicate any particular reason for repeat miscarriages, I am now on a lot of medication. I hate being pricked and poked each day but for now all of that is making you tick along at 175 beats per minute at 8 weeks.
You look the same, so instead of viewing each pregnancy as a loss, I have decided that we are all trying this again and again until we are successful as a family. Adversity tends to make one spiritual. And I am starting to believe that each time I get pregnant, even if the genetic material is different, it is the same soul making greater effort to be born as our child.
Just as I pick myself up to face another round of medication and morning sickness with cautious optimism, I imagine you flexing your muscles inside your cocoon challenging yourself to make it to the next milestone. I hear you, darling and am so proud of the effort you are putting in! Know that we are rooting for you to succeed.
And even though I don’t have any children to show for my pregnancies yet, I believe the experience has already taught us a lot about parenthood. It’s about endurance. After each miscarriage, I have told daddy that this is hard and I may not be able to do it again. Inspite of his support to do whatever makes me happy, each time, after a few days, I find myself doing what it will take to try again.
It is also about taking care of each other. Through all my bouts of morning sickness, sleepless nights, am-so-tired-I-can’t-move-an-inch days, can’t-keep-any-food-down phases, I have been taken care of. It has instilled in me a deep conviction that daddy will always be there to take care of you and I won’t ever find myself struggling in this on my own. For all the struggles life sends our way, daddy and I will provide you with a home and a family construct that makes you feel secure and loved.
It has made me pause and retell myself that my journey has to be measured with the yardstick of the challenges I face and comparison with others is meaningless. For all my pragmatism, I can’t help but calibrate the ages of my new born nephew, nieces and children of friends with what could have been for my child.
When a friend gushes over her daughter’s smile and smugly tells me I will know true happiness only when I can hold one of mine, I remind myself that she is unaware of my struggle. I am envious of the fact that almost no one in my circle of friends has had to learn about these lessons on their way to happiness. But I have to constantly remind myself that just as they don’t know my full story, I won’t ever know about all their struggles. I am hoping this realization will make us better parents as it will constantly remind us to value our children for who they are, given what their life journey has been.
Lastly, its made us realists. Lightning does strike twice. Sad things happen to people all the time. It will be heartbreaking if this never materializes for us naturally. But it won’t devastate or break us apart. We will continue to be mindful and grateful for all that is wonderful in our lives, not the least of which is each other’s companionship.
Even if we need to adopt you to complete our family, I believe it will be because your soul was always meant to be our child. And even though you may not share our physical features, you will still be half his and half mine. Because daddy will bring music to your life, he will infect you with a passion for sports and I will bring to you the joy of reading and a love for rains. We will celebrate life, share our experiences, debate our differences of opinions, and challenge each other to grow and together we will shape our family and happiness just like it was always meant to be!
Lots of love!
Can’t wait to meet you and start our journey together.
Top image via Pixabay