On Feb. 7, I had an article published on this page titled, “ Enduring another miscarriage ,” which detailed the three losses my husband and I had experienced.
It was also the day I found out I was pregnant for the fifth time.
Seeing the positive pregnancy test brought conflicting emotions as thrill warred with dread over potentially sustaining yet another loss.
The early phases of this pregnancy were marked with silence. My husband and I didn’t discuss it with each other. We didn’t tell anyone else, and I didn’t even allow myself to reflect on it internally. If we just pretended nothing was happening, maybe it wouldn’t be so painful when it didn’t work out.
This was a stark contrast with my first pregnancy, which gave us a beautiful daughter. We were picking out names from the moment we found out we were expecting, and telling anyone who would listen that we were pregnant far before it was physically obvious.
This time, the ultrasound at three months showed that everything was normal. We had to start spreading the news, since my waistline was spreading, too. People who knew our history reacted with cautious joy, often asking us for reassurance that this time everything would be all right.
That always confounded me – as if I could possibly offer the reassurance to others that I so desperately craved. We didn’t dare to hope too much, and still didn’t speak about the pregnancy unless necessary.
Another ultrasound at five months showed the pregnancy progressing well. Now, I was firmly into maternity clothes. I purposely did not think about having a baby, still trying to insulate myself against the flicker of hope that had begun to grow stronger.
I was surprised at the number of people who remembered my history and would stop me at work with a kind word or unbridled excitement. People who had shared their own story about loss would tear up, seeing that it might work this time. I was amazed and touched at this collective outpouring of faith and hope.
By the third trimester, even I began to think about the baby who might make it this time. My husband and I cautiously discussed names, occasionally allowing full rein to the joy of imagining our expanded family. At eight months, we finally decided to clear out our office and make it into the baby’s room, an act of faith that terrified me. Part of my brain insisted on imagining having to come home and shut the door, the room forever empty.
On Sept. 27, Gordon was born, a hefty 9 pounds 6 ounces. He was, and is, perfect in every way. That day, holding my beautiful baby in my arms, I knew I would endure everything we had gone through and more to get here.
I now have a glimmer of understanding of the depth of human strength. Not only to survive adversity, but to have the hope and faith to try again. Surviving the miscarriages was not the hardest part – that passed and eventually numbed. The most difficult thing my husband and I faced was the question of taking that leap again, to trust well beyond our control.
Gordon got sick at three weeks old. Emergency-room and intensive-care-unit sick. The terror and pain of seeing my baby, the baby we had prayed for and waited for and so intensely loved, hooked up to machines and struggling was gut-wrenching. In those moments, I exhausted every last reserve of faith I possessed. I am beginning to appreciate the intensity of love. I have never feared for my life the way I feared for Gordon’s – primarily because I knew that should he die, I would still have to go on.
Gordon pulled through. He got better, and two weeks later we were out of the hospital with a perfectly healthy baby.
Our two-year-old daughter, Mary, is entranced with her baby brother and with her new role as a big sister. She exemplifies happiness and good cheer, possessing that peculiarity of small children to live exactly in the moment – not fearing the future or dragging her (very limited) past.
I could choose to live in fear now, terrified with the reality that loss hovers so close to those we love. But that would be like choosing to lose them before they’re gone.
Instead, I cherish every moment I get, because they are finite. I want to be an example of strength to my children, because some day they will face the same desperation and fear my husband and I have endured.
And although a part of me wants to shelter them from sadness, another realizes that the courage to follow a dream is so much more important. Any dream worth pursuing, whether it’s a relationship, a child or a personal goal, will inevitably require fortitude and resilience to accomplish. My successes have not made me who I am – it is how I’ve chosen to respond to failure that has shaped my character.
These days, my house smells like cooking and is littered with toys. The phone rings 10 times a day and friends and family are continually stopping by for a visit, a meal, a cup of tea. Happiness flows out of every open door and window. This is the reason to keep trying, to keep hoping, to persevere.
Because the joy is always, always worth the fight.
Teresa Waddington lives in Calgary.