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The Worst Year Ever

20 March 2012
"Mommy, where is my brother?"

Sparrow asked me this the other day. I can't remember what I told him, but I think I probably just redirected his attention elsewhere and he forgot about it. But I can't forget.

When Hawk and I were married, we had Plans. We were going to have four or five kids. I had their names picked out - Nicholas, Kestrel, Caleb, Kalli (a combination of my two best friends' names) and... well, I don't remember. Something else.

After I got pregnant, when I spent my 21st birthday in the hospital throwing up blood, I informed Hawk we were only having one more child. "Just one more. I can't do this 4 more times, but I will give our baby a sibling. I don't want him to be an only child."

And in 2008, when Sparrow was born, I considered getting pregnant again after the 6 weeks of healing were up. Then we'd have had another baby in December of 2008 and our insurance would have been thrilled with us. Cooler heads prevailed - we decided to move back to Utah, so when I got pregnant again, my family would be close enough to help with Sparrow. I struggled with postpartum depression and anxiety. We decided to consult with a doctor before I got pregnant again, since the first pregnancy was so scary and traumatic.

January of 2009. After running a battery of tests on my heart, my OBGYN informed me: "there's a hole in your heart. If you get pregnant again, you will die. It's a good thing you came in before you just got pregnant on your own; we'd have probably needed to abort the baby."

A "crazy high risk pregnancy" doctor gave us his opinion: "If you get pregnant again, you might die. You might not. But you do have a 75% chance of developing preeclampsia again, and it will be as bad or worse as the first time."

And so, I was sterilized. I had Essure, a non-invasive sterilization surgery which did not work, and a tubal ligation, which left me in pain for 2 years. Last May I had a hysterectomy and apart from the no-more-babies-no-seriously-ever-again thing, it has been FANTASTIC.

But adjusting to the reality is hard. It's still hard, even three years later. It's hard when I walk into Gymboree and see the infant clothes, and all clothing in Sparrow's size are skaterzz and pirates (neither of which are allowed in my home.) It's hard when friends or relatives announce their pregnancies. It's hard when I see cute newborns and babies at church or the mall or anywhere.

But it's the most hard when Sparrow is lonely, and when he asks for a brother or sister. I cannot give him one.

For personal reasons, adoption is not really an option for us. And so Sparrow will be an only child.

It's hard, but I'm not going to lie - part of me is relieved. Now that I've had a few years to grieve, that is. Because! Sparrow has been toilet trained for almost a whole year. No diapers for a year! He is very independent and can dress, feed, and play by himself! He can use his words to tell me what he needs, and even though there are copious amounts of whining in my day, at least I'm not playing the "why are you crying?" guessing game. I find I am a much better parent to a small child, because I know how to play with him. When he was an infant, we mostly just sat around and stared at each other blankly. The one thought that gets me through all the "no more babies" grief is - soon, we will be able to travel! Like crazy. We'll be able to afford to go places, and I can focus all my attention and love and airplane-wrangling on Sparrow.

And let's face it - Sparrow is cute, but he is a very, very difficult child to raise. If I had two Sparrows running around I'd probably die. There have truly been days when I cried because I was so grateful I didn't have twins. Yikes.

This isn't the life I'd have chosen. I would still love for Sparrow to have a sibling. But I grew up with siblings, and the ones I grew up with don't like me. I was a total turd child and I don't blame them. The siblings I didn't grow up with like me, because they met me when I was a cool 19 year old. So see, there's no guarantee that if I had had another baby, Sparrow and him/her would have even gotten along.

And he has the chance to be around babies often. He has infant cousins he is very sweet with, and our friend's children. And it's so nice for me to be able to hand a stinky or crying baby back to the mommy and give my own kid a squeeze.

2009 sucked for a lot of reasons, but that was the worst one. But we're surviving. And even though our family is small, I love us. We have fun together and we love each other, and we always will, no matter how many kids we have or don't have.

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This blog hop is hosted by Chocolate on my Cranium. To participate, write a post about a time where you've had to make an adjustment to meet an unexpected event in your life and head over to Cocoa's blog to link up.

5 comments to The Worst Year Ever:

Emily's World said...

Thanks for sharing your story. Heavenly Father's plan is always different than our own but always for the best.

The White Silk Purse (Dana) said...

What a handsome young man! I love your photo.

Mama Rachel said...

What a beautiful, personal post. I think the peace you have is a great lesson for all of us.

The details of the Lord's plans for us are not all the same, even though the over-arching Plan is the same. It's wonderful to read about your perspective.

Blessings to you and your family!

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

I LOVE your family picture at the end! Thanks for sharing your story with us. I, too, like the perspective you have shared.

Heather said...

I admire people who can be so personal on blogs. I think it takes a certain amount of bravery. I never get too personal on my public blogs.

This post really resonated with me. 2009 sucked for me, too. I had a miscarriage before I had my oldest and one after I had him. I didn't tell very many people about the second one (happened in 09) because of all the stupid things people said to me after the first one ("It was for the best", "You're young", blah blah blah). I didn't get pregnant with my second baby until almost 18 months after the second miscarriage, so people would always comment about Max being an only child, saying all sorts of stupid things again about it ("Aren't you worried he's lonely?" "Don't you want more kids?" Grrrrr.). I felt so confused and lost about it and so, so guilty (like it was my fault that my body wasn't cooperating). I can relate to so many feelings you expressed -- I've glared at many a pregnant woman at the store and felt bad for myself. Not my best moments, but there you have it.

It took a lot of soul searching (and even some therapy -- I'm not ashamed to admit), but I made peace with my son being an only child. Sure, it's nice when kids have siblings, but that doesn't mean that it can't also be great when they don't. There are so many things your little guy will experience that other children won't. God truly is in charge and he knows what's best. I still get stupid comments from people ("Wow, they're 4 1/2 years apart? Why do you have such a big gap?" Grrrrrr.), but I'm completely at peace with the way things have worked out. I don't completely get why they've happened, but I'm learning so much.

Wow, long comment. Thanks for your post.