The one that didn’t happen.
On June 6, 2017, just over four weeks ago, my daughter Elanor was born.
Before Elanor was born I prayed and asked others to pray for her to turn from the breech position she’d been in since at least 32 weeks. We were hoping for a VBAC and that isn’t possible with a breech baby. Our primary reason for pursuing a VBAC was to avoid increased risk of complications in future pregnancies from repeat c-sections. We were not sure how many children we wanted total, but we had names picked for up to four more:
• Gilbert Carlyle, after our maternal grandfathers.
• James Godfrey, I just love the name James and Godfrey is an old family name, and the middle name of my great uncle, who is a wonderful man with a fascinating history.
• Beatrice Rose, two names I adore! Beatrice from my favorite Shakespeare play, and Rose from my family tree.
• Rowena Joy, for my great aunt, who is an inspiring figure in my family, and Trey’s grandmother.
But Elanor stayed breech, and this turned out to be the miracle that saved her life. When we went in for a version to try and turn her we found I had dangerously low amniotic fluid. We scheduled a c-section for that evening. I was sad to miss a VBAC, but mostly happy to have a plan, a day of rest pre–surgery, and the prospect of a healthy baby girl! It was actually a very restful and pleasant day. Elanor was born without complications, healthy and vigorous, and she knew me immediately! I was so at peace. That would have been a great end to the story, but sadly that is only the happy prologue.
They used conscious sedation for the surgery, so I was very aware of the moment we found out about the other miracle, the one that didn’t happen.
My uterus had developed an aneurysm; instead of a nice thick muscle a third of it was paper-thin membrane. This meant the uterus could not contract and doing so was essential to stopping both the normal blood loss of a completed pregnancy and that from the c-section. It had to come out or I would face massive hemorrhaging quite soon. Our routine c-section suddenly became an emergency hysterectomy.
This had to happen. Even had they been able to save the uterus future pregnancies would have been dangerous to me and the baby.
I was not and am not ready for this.
I am not ready to be done being pregnant.
I am not ready to be done trying to have a VBAC.
I am not ready to be done with nursing or holding my adorable jelly – bean babies or watching them grow and learn.
I’m not ready to give up the dream of a brood of kids to do Molly Wesley proud.
I love Elanor; she is perfect. But I am not ready for her to be my last.
So far this doesn’t feel like a door closing or a mere redirection. To me this feels like my children were real; I just hadn’t meet them yet. And now I never will because somehow they have been taken from me. I will never know if I’ve lost one, two, or four children, or perhaps more. I don’t know their names, their eye color, their first word, if they looked like me or like Trey. I will never help them learn to walk, or speak, or write an essay, or read Tolkien impossibly early. To me this is a real loss, not just the loss of an opportunity.
I waited to tell this story until I’d fully processed the events. Elanor is beautiful and nothing about her birth made this happen. It was always going to happen. My poor uterus was doomed and I didn’t want this story to overshadow the miracle that she is.
But healing my broken heart will take time, possibly a very long time.
So now if you see me getting weepy, know it’s not you, nor is it just post–partum hormones, though those don’t help, for sure. I’m healing. At least, I will eventually.
Lord, give me the strength to not become bitter;
Give me the courage to grieve;
Give me the will to accept your Will;
Give me hope and peace to one day move out of these shadows;
Make my love for the children I have burn away the sorrow for those I will never meet.
In closing, we are asking all well intentioned family and friends to please not mention adoption or surrogacy. We are grieving a real loss and don’t want to trivialize that or the seriousness of those options. We need to heal first. Down the road, like 3 to 5 years down the road, we will assess the possibility of more children. Until then, we ask that these subjects be avoided in the context of our family.
Thanks for listening.