I accepted a long time ago that my childbearing years are over. Because of the harshness of pregnancy on my body, I can no longer risk becoming with child. As I have two beautiful children, this might not seem like a huge deal. And, overall, I was okay with the decision to not have anymore. I welcomed my new role as mentor and guide, the mother hen figure that I’ve always been carried on into this new stage of my life journey.
But then I began noticing that whenever those close to me—friends and family I love dearly—announced their pregnancies and began discussing their labors and post photos of new little ones, I felt a little stab. Just a tiny sliver sliced through my joy for their happiness. It was near imperceptible, that little sliver of pain. But the more time passed and the more I ignored it, the more persistent it became.
When my newest niece was born, I tried so very hard to be happy for them. I was overjoyed, truly, that they were able to bear children and begin their journey into parenthood, yet I spent most of the day in a cloud of sadness for a reason I couldn’t name.
It bothered me continuously that I didn’t and couldn’t feel wholly happy for them because of this strange sadness—until it came to me that I was in mourning.
Once that revelation made itself known, the slivers that had been continuously cut into my soul over the years merged together and out poured the grief I had been holding back since my daughter was born. The grief that had built since I was told that pregnancy would kill me should I attempt it again was released.
I have been told since then that two children is more than enough. People feel free to say that we could always adopt if we really wanted another one, that I was lucky and blessed to have the “perfect” family—one boy and one girl. What more could I want?
The answer to that question became blindingly clear the day my niece was born. I wanted the option to choose when I was done having children. I wanted to experience a normal pregnancy, and I wanted to experience a labor. I wanted to know what contractions felt like. I wanted to experience it. My very soul yearned for another infant to harbor in my arms, and I had been blind to that yearning for so long. I pushed it away as a selfish and indulgent thought.
These emotions came as rapidly as the tears welled in my eyes. I will never again be able to have a child. To carry one within me, to feel the little flutters of life inside of me. To experience the joy of delivery, the delirious happiness of the first few months. To watch their growth and their life, to watch as each new day brings a brand new discovery.
Grief poured out as scars stretched and tore, scars that had to be opened, to be acknowledged, so that they could finally heal. I confided in my husband and he, too, shared that he had the same thoughts, same emotions. Together, we mourned the children we will never have the opportunity to hold, to meet, although they will always be cherished.
Now, together, hand in hand, we can heal.