A Family of Four

We briefly entertained the wonderful thought of twins.  We saw two heartbeats, two little heads and bodies, two little people.  And I said to myself at least once an hour “we are going to be a family of five.”  I thought about where I was going to fit another crib, my husband read reviews on minivans.

Then there was a screening where one baby measured right on target around 12 weeks, and one was so small, and so still.  Just when it seemed safe to be happy and read about twin strollers (with a standing option for the third toddler) it was over.  Turn the page.

How do you grieve for a child you never knew?  I don’t know what his smile would look like.  I never heard those meowing first day cries.  I don’t even know that he was he.  Maybe he was she.  And yet, my heart feels so broken that I find it hard to think that life will go on.

I know I’ll pick up my beautiful toddler tonight, warm and tired from playing, and he won’t know that Mommy is sad.  He’ll care that I’m there, and ready to feed him dinner.  I know there is still a baby to grow, and birth, and care for, but right now, a family of four seems like such a poor substitute for a family of five.  And I worry – will I love this baby – or always see it as half of what could have been.

How can I mourn when just months ago, a family of four would have made me ecstatically happy – when I know that there are never any guarantees, that I don’t deserve another child, but that he (or she) is lent to me by the grace of God.  I am grateful for my one surviving baby.  I’m sure I’ll be more grateful in a few days.  Right now I alternate between complete numb shock, and pain so sharp it makes it hard to breath, to live, impossible for my heart to beat.

In a few days, this blog will return to its happy self, but for today, please indulge me as I learn to be grateful for a family of four.