My husband, daughter and I sat in the kitchen eating one day a few weeks after my son died. I can’t tell you the date; all I know is it was deep in the sea of shock and horror and hadn’t been that long. That entire time is a complete blur. I can tell you it was during a time when I’d put food in front of my daughter and not know how I even had the wherewithal to do so.
My husband made a comment. Again, I don’t know what prompted it, but I knew it was coming moments before he said it. I could feel it.
“We have to have another baby”, he said.
“I know”, I replied quietly.
It wasn’t going to happen that day. Or that month. We couldn’t even wrap our heads around the fact that our son was dead. We didn’t know if we should even be concerned about this investigation going on. Oh right, and then there’s that saying about how you shouldn’t make big decisions in the wake of trauma.
It wouldn’t have been a good time to do anything anyway. My days consisted of dropping my daughter off at school and coming back home to cry outside on our deck and smoke 2 cigarettes, and then get into his crib and cry some more, inhaling his crib sheet as deeply as I could to see if I could smell him. My husband and I also smoked cigarettes sometimes late at night in our garden after our daughter was asleep. Whispering near the hydrangeas, inhaling deeply and talking about how this could possibly be real. I wasn’t eating very much, dropping down to a seriously unhealthy 119 pounds. I looked awful. I had deep circles under my eyes, wasn’t too fussed about showering and took a Valium at night so that I wouldn’t wake up at 2am filled with terror. When you lose a child, the middle of the night is pretty much the scariest time ever.
And yet, we knew that getting pregnant was what we wanted to do. Our daughter was an amazing sister who loved her brother with all of her heart. We loved raising two kids. The chaos of adding another person to your bunch is scary and hectic, and then one day you realize you love it and that your family is really complete. We knew we could never get our little boy back. But as someone else who lost a child put it, you want desperately to turn a light on in the incredibly dark world you have found yourself. It’s a world surrounded by death, and loss, and fear. All of those things wouldn’t go away, at least not for a long time. But after all that life had taken away, we needed to figure out what our future was going to be. Another sibling for our daughter? Ultimately being able to raise two kids? Those things could happen, or at least we could try.
The cigarette smoking and nighttime Valium popping started to phase out. I was easing into this new life, mostly I think because of our little girl. She was there to help me smile in the midst of disaster, and by doing that, I was able to heal enough to get myself back in the shower. Back to life. Plus, I really hated how much my fingers smelled after smoking.
Nine weeks after our son had died, we finally got a call from the detective stating the investigation was over. As much of a relief as it was to hear that, we still hung up the phone in the same circumstances. The phone call we had been waiting so long for turned out to be pretty anticlimactic, and at that late date, it wasn’t even surprising. He was still gone.
I had previously downloaded an app to track my periods, as I am horrible at tracking my own cycle. I got a text message the week after we got the phone call saying that I was ovulating. It said, “The Flowers Are Blooming.” I wasn’t sure they were. I guessed at my cycle length when I downloaded the app. I really had no clue when I was really supposed to start my period. I told my husband anyway.
“So, what do you think?” He asked.
“I don’t know. Maybe we should try…” I couldn’t even get the whole sentence out. It just made me cry. Trying to have a baby meant admitting to myself that Jay was really dead. It wasn’t a dream. We were “done” after we had Jay. We never would have gone for a third. We are only trying for a third because he is gone. I just couldn’t wrap my head around it.
Day two came along. I received another text message about blooming flowers. My husband and I had the same conversation. I cried some more and nothing happened.
On Day three, I got out of the shower and got another message. I casually added up when the baby would be due if I got pregnant that day. January 2014. What if we waited another month? That would make it February, the month Jay died. I don’t want to do that. How old do I want to be when I give birth? I’m 39 now. How long would it take to get pregnant? All of a sudden I knew what I wanted to do. Life had taken so much from us. We lost a child. We lost a part of ourselves, and a giant chunk of our life. What did we want for the rest of our life? We aren’t ever going to get that life back, so what do we want for our life going forward? How long do I want to wait to create another path for us? I impulsively called my husband at work.
“We’re doing it tonight.”
And we did. Afterwards I had one thought: Well, that worked. I had never stopped taking my prenatal vitamins because I was still nursing when Jay died. I stopped having any wine. I reached for my Valium one night and stopped myself, thinking, “Oh, I can’t take those anymore.” I had no nausea or bloating. No more fatigue than usual. I had no evidence I was pregnant. I just assumed I was.
Two weeks later I noticed some blood when I went to the bathroom (TMI, I know). I was confused. I was so sure I was pregnant. I just sat there on the toilet dumbfounded. This isn’t right, I thought.
I decided to take a pregnancy test. I dug out a super old test I’d had forever. It was so old that I literally got no result. Blank. Unbelievable. I headed to the drug store, the same one that I had gone to with Jay less than a week before he died to buy valentines. I couldn’t believe that I was now standing in line there waiting to purchase a pregnancy test. What a ridiculous situation.
I returned home with the test. My husband was working on his laptop in the kitchen. Without a word I made my way to the bathroom and took the test. I brought it back upstairs when I got the result and showed him.
“How did you know?” he asked.
“It’s my third time doing this.”
I am due in 2 weeks. We are happy about it. It is a good thing. And the most terrifying situation in the world.
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