Last October our second child died in Erika’s womb. My grandfather died two days later, on Sarah’s fourth birthday. At his funeral we talked about how his arrival in Heaven made him the first family member lucky enough to meet our child.
Barely ten months have passed since that tumultuous weekend, and now we are experiencing a kind of déjà vu. The child we lost last year was conceived after three years of trying everything under the sun and eventually resorting to in vitro fertilization. After the miscarriage, we returned to trying the old fashioned way, but that failed again and again, so we started up another round of in vitro in late July. My sperm successfully fertilized Erika’s eggs, and on August 10th our embryos (three of them) were transferred into her uterus. Home testing showed she was pregnant on the 16th, and office testing confirmed it on the 21st. We were elated. But then a follow-up test on the 25th brought the crushing news that this child has also passed.
Part of me wants to write about the feeling of helplessness that comes from all this.
Another part of me wants to write about how thankful we are to have Sarah.
Part of me wants to write about how we now have an even greater appreciation for the miracle of life, having experienced first-hand how many things must go precisely right just to conceive, and how many more must go precisely right to carry a child to term.
But another part of me seethes with anger over the knowledge that while we do everything right, countless crack whores seem to get pregnant at the drop of a hat.
There is no way to put any of this into words. The feelings are a tangle of contradictions that ebb and flow erratically, and there is no way to make sense of them -- which presents a problem, because for me, putting things in a way that makes sense is the whole purpose of writing.
All I know is that as much as I want to have another child for its own sake -- and to experience anew the thrills of seeing that first smile, watching that first crawl, hearing that first word -- the most important reason I have for wanting another one is so that Sarah will not be an only child. I have a brother and sister, and can not image having been the only non-adult in the household as the years of childhood peeled away. The very thought feels lonely. I think of how horrendous it would be for Sarah if something were to happen to me and Erika, leaving her all alone with no sibling on whom to lean or with whom to share memories of us late at night.
I have no doubt that the universe is the work of a Creator, and no doubt that there is a plan behind this material plain on which we live. I am also certain that each of us has a role to play towards fulfilling that plan, and that we are responsible for finding our role and playing it. The certainty does not, however, make the task any easier.
Tomorrow morning we return to the doctor’s office, bearing questions. And wondering whether that is the right place to seek the answers...