Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Grieving for Linden and Archer

We are a family of three.
It wasn’t easy for us to conceive Raine, and if you followed our journey via Herzing Luv, you know that. For years we tried off and on to start a family. My Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome complicated matters and fertility treatments weren’t something we could afford. It was such an emotional roller coaster and such a struggle. I tried different medication combinations until ultimately we had one last chance in the winter of 2010. Our hopes were dashed when my ovulation test kits failed. We began to grieve the fact that we hadn’t been able to create a biological mini Dan or Leah.

To our great surprise four weeks later, I had a positive pregnancy test. We were shocked and completely thrilled to say the very least! Best Christmas present. Ever.

When Raine was 10 months old, we decided to try to conceive again. I was in a post-partum lunatic haze and actually thought hurrying up and doing the whole pregnancy/post-partum/breastfeeding experience all over again right away was ideal! No offense to those of you ladies who have done that successfully, it just wouldn’t have been right for me. It was all very tough for me with Fibromyalgia, so I just figured LET’S GET THIS OVER WITH AGAIN QUICK. I naively thought that because my body had just been through the whole process, it would totally get pregnant easily.

Of course, it didn’t.

I became pretty frustrated and bitter. Even though I had a child, I was still jealous every time I heard that someone else was pregnant. One night we found out that close friends were trying for their 2nd child. I became so angry and snapped “I’m sure they’ll get pregnant on their first try.” I was so irritated to be stuck wanting something that seemed to just be beyond my reach, but came so easily to others. A friend with me that night didn’t like my ugly attitude and challenged me—“Why do
you need another child when you have Raine?”

It was a valid point. How dare I be so greedy when I had been so blessed!? I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Raine is the most delightful, hard-won part of our marriage. The past 3 years with him have been completely magical. He is not only our baby, he is now a sweet, clever, handsome little guy! And I explained to my friend that because Raine is so awesome, I dreamt of creating another awesome person. And Dan and I felt our collective heart was big enough for more.

Dan as a new dad in 2011

As time has passed, we saw clearly that having one child can be completely fulfilling. We didn’t feel providing Raine with a sibling was necessary as we both have close friends who are like siblings to us since childhood. However it still appealed to us to dream about it. Just recently we had discussed our thoughts again for another child. At the rate that my business was growing, we felt it could be possible to grow our family. As an independent working mom, I would have flexible scheduling and be able to take a maternity leave or afford fertility treatments should we need them. I wanted to wait until Raine was another year or two older (so he could be more independent and also helpful) and that worked out well with Dan’s demand to have more by the time he turned 40. (Which I reminded him was a lot sooner than he thought! Haha.) We liked the name Linden Douglas for a boy. Archer for a girl. I also liked Aster for a girl. And River for a boy. I love words and I love names. Thinking of names was a daydream indulgence. Those names drifted around in the back of my mind during everyday tasks like fireflies in a night sky. They were magical, too. I believed I could catch one someday. Put it in a jar. Show it to Raine.

And suddenly, Dan’s diagnosis.

It has hit me in waves–this new, strange grief over our unborn children.

The first one was when Dan told me his diagnosis. What a nightmare. Every dream of the future collapsing in seconds.

Another one was when he asked one of his nurses at the hospital what her name Marisol meant. She smiled shyly and told him the sea and sun. She left the room and I burst into tears. There was no more secretly thinking about names.

Another one when I shared my grief with Dan over this loss, and questioned it, and Dan firmly assuring me that despite miraculous medical interventions to extend his life, he would never bring another child into the world who wouldn’t have a father. That is so right. But it was so hard to hear.

Another one when I saw a young man in Target carrying an infant.

Another one when I boxed up baby clothes for donation.

What can I say? The firefly lights are gone. The night is black. I am angry and I am sad. It is a small thing to grieve in comparison to what I am ultimately grieving. But each small thing matters and is a part of the process.

We don’t have fireflies in Oregon. Someday Raine will see them on a warm summer night in Illinois when we visit family and friends. I will be sure to give him a tender kiss, a good jar, and I will relish that moment with everything in my heart and soul.

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