Our third was unplanned. Our timeline of properly-spaced out pregnancies had been changed. We made a video of Shauna finding out she was pregnant, and looked forward to joking with our child about how unexpected this was.
Test results back. Turner Syndrome, which meant our third would be a girl, although the test we used had a high rate of false positives because it’s done early in the pregnancy. Further testing showed our third wouldn’t make it into this world at all. “No heartbeat,” Shauna was told in a moment that will be one beyond my comprehension. “However sad you are, it’ 100 times worse for her,” a friend who has been through this told me.
There’s a certain stigma attached to miscarriages. Researched showed us it was common. There are probably a bunch of our friends who went through it without telling us. Like mental illness, it’s a subject you’re not supposed to talk openly about. Maybe because death is uncomfortable. What can you say to a friend who lost a pregnancy? Words fail, although some thoughtful friends sent flowers.
“It’s OK to be sad, just don’t start drinking,” is what I tell my clients. Men especially avoid processing trauma, and the truth is we can’t afford to sit around on a couch talking about our childhood. We must move forward, but not yet. Today I’m sitting in a room following my own advice. It’s OK to feel sad, at least for a little while….
There was an obituary that a political reporter posted about her father, and I was going to quote it here because it moved me in ways writing rarely does, and it made me want to be a better father. I now see she deleted it. Writing about others, even taking shots at powerful people who may make your life difficult, is a rush. Writing about your own life requires you to rip open your own wounds and then be called “self-indulgent” by the mob. The crowd wants you to fight other people. Put on a show. No one wants to see the struggle you face internally, because that may shine a mirror on their own vulnerabilities. What might they find if they looked away from the spectacle and focused within….
“Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body,” is a quote from Elizabeth Stone you roll your eyes at before you have your first child. Oh come on, there are billions of us alive today, and over 50 billion people have lived. There is no miracle of child birth, it can’t feel like that. I believed every word of that rebuttal. Then it happened to me.
Life happens to everyone, and it’s a miracle when you experience it. Death happens to everyone, and that makes it no less of a tragedy when you feel it.
Loss has a way of bringing focus. I was concerned about the stresses a third would bring, and began doing calculations on how we would handle the additional workload. Cyra is older and headstrong. Would Rumi feel like a neglected middle child, as she’d be 20 months when the third (we hadn’t decided on a name) arrived? With Shauna’s parents nearby, we’ve had all of the benefits of parenthood without the usual downsides of struggling to find childcare. A third would have been a lot of work. My international trips would be delayed. Some projects would be moved around for lack of time. “Two kids in diapers, what a mess,” is where my mind was. Such petty, trivial, selfish nonsense. That’s how it feels now.
I’m sitting here wishing we had received this incredible gift of chaos.