When I was little, I loved to play "house". In the woods, in the playroom, on Granddaddy's boat; we played it everywhere. Being the oldest, and also the one who most wanted to play this role in our games, I was always the mom. I was sometimes the dog trainer, sometimes the dolphin trainer, sometimes one of the Olsen twins solving a mystery, but for the most part I was the mom. My cousin Morgan and sister Becca were my children, either whining small children or teenagers who snuck out, and I feel like I spent most of my time pretending too cook with empty spice containers and "watching Oprah" (or soap operas) on the boat's rear view mirror we pretended was a TV.
I pretty much assumed that these games were preparing me for real life (can't say I've actually ever SEEN Oprah or a soap opera, but I guess someone had told me about daytime tv).
I babysat for years growing up. If I had been better at saving than spending, I could probably have paid for college entirely with my earnings as a sitter. It seems a little weird now, but sometimes when I was babysitting, I'd pretend that the babies were my own, making up little stories in my head about my life as a mom with them.
You probably know already that we've dealt with loss. For almost four years, we've waited and wondered.
Last week I had an ultrasound to hopefully diagnose things for me. The night before, I started thinking about it and the thought crossed my head that maybe the best surprise ever would happen and I would be pregnant. This was of course super unlikely, but I overthink everything and like to imagine possible outcomes to basically every situation that may arise, so I went in with this in the back of my head. In my scenario, I was past my first trimester, to avoid more worries, and also pregnant with twins. This is my go-to "ya never know" scenario.
It was a little strange being in the room with the pictures on the wall of babies and the big tv screen in front of me projecting what the tech was seeing. As you can imagine, when I was sitting in that dark room with the tech scanning, I saw nothing. Well, nothing like I've seen on other people's ultrasounds. I can't really identify things on those, but I know what a basic prenatal ultrasound looks like and this wasn't it. I mostly saw static. As expected, my womb was empty. The tech explained that things looked good and that I'd know more once someone "read" the ultrasound.
Just as I'd suspected, there was nothing.
I can't tell you the times I've considered exactly how I'd announce that I was pregnant. I can't tell you how many times I've debated doing a gender reveal party. I can't tell you how many times I've read birth stories. I can't tell you how many times I've bookmarked what seem to be good articles on breastfeeding and even potty training. I don't know why I do it, but I do. I want to be as prepared as I can be for when that moment comes. I am hopeful.
It's a vulnerable place to be, certainly. I know very well that I have set myself up to be crushed, and I am, every month. It has been 26 months since my last miscarriage, but every single month, even since my first miscarriage 4 years ago, I have been really really hopeful.
I realized a long time ago that life is out of my control. I realize that having babies may not be something that I can do (results still pending!). I realize that sometimes waiting lasts longer than seems bearable. I realize that just wanting something does not mean that it will happen. I realize that I do believe that God is in control, regardless of how bad life stinks sometimes. I miss my babies in a way that is strange and odd, because of course I never knew them and never will in this life. I have learned, I have grown, and while I wish that I was indeed a mother sitting here writing something entirely different before Mother's Day, I really am hopeful that one day things may not be this way.
The end of a Tennyson poem springs to mind, and I am certain that it will be familiar, but it seems appropriate nevertheless, in the face of emptiness and loss and sadness and hope.
I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it when I sorrow most;
'T is better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.
My womb may be empty, but my heart is not.