Tag Archives: motherhood

The Unrepeatables

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When I became pregnant again, there were lots of reasons not to tell for a long time.  First I just couldn’t talk about it because of how afraid I was.  I was under so much stress and the idea of anybody watching me waiting for something to happen was just one more stress I couldn’t bear.  But the greatest reason has been that I can’t quite get over the irrational feeling that celebrating her publicly looks like forgetting the boys.

Every Mom feels protective of their children and that remains true when they’re gone.  You can’t protect them from a whole lot.  They’ve gone beyond the need for your protection really.  But you want to shelter their memory.  You want to make sure people speak of them and think of them respectfully.  Anything that devalues their lives hits a very raw nerve.  People say things that hurt, usually without thinking.  Sometimes it’s obvious stuff. “It’s a sign they died, well really, what did you want a baseball team?” being one example.  Other times it’s someone trying to be comforting and just getting it a little wrong.  Under this is filed: “Don’t worry, you’ll have another.” And that’s the one I’ve struggled with this whole pregnancy.  It implies that Charlie or Samuel are replaceable. They aren’t.  They’ll never be here and nobody who does end up being here will be them.  It’s not like I had 5 roles to be filled and we just go “the part of fifth child will now be played by ___” and carry on.  Fifth child is Charlie.  Sixth child is Samuel.  Those roles will never be played here on earth now.  The characters are written out of the script.  And I feel, not guilty exactly, but bad, that in celebrating the arrival of our newest child many people may think. “oh good well that’s all better then.”

It isn’t all better.  I love her so much.  She’s beautiful and wonderful and she wouldn’t even be here if either one of her brothers had lived.  It is, biologically, an impossibility that they would all be here.  That’s hard to wrap my mind around.  She only exists because they do not.  And I want her to exist so desperately.  But she doesn’t take their place.  Charlie and Samuel aren’t a chapter we close and never think about again because I finally got a fifth child.  Because none of our children are just numbers.

Number.  That’s the concept that has always bugged me, even before our losses.  Everybody gets asked these questions, it’s pretty natural small talk. More so if your family is a “weird” size, either bigger or smaller than the average.  Are you having more? Is your family complete? How many kids do you want?  In 9 years I still haven’t come up with a great way to put into words the answer in my heart.  I usually just laugh awkwardly and shrug.  “I don’t know” is accurate but not thorough. But at the same time I’d like more than ever to have a good answer when our answer has gotten complicated.

My kids correct me if I try and give the easy answer. “No Mum, we have four boys and three girls.” It melts my heart that they so fully include their missing brothers but it sure drops a bomb into conversations with strangers at dance lessons. I have 5 living children.  I have delivered and held 7 children.  I have conceived 8 though one barely brushed the world with her or his presence, a twin who disappeared, leaving behind a sibling.  So how many kids do I have?  How many do I want?  It’s all in the counting.

But I don’t want a NUMBER of children.  I want a collection of individuals.  A collection of Ones.  The Unrepeatables, just like the blog name says. I don’t have a target output.  My children are not a product, or workers in the domestic economy, or figures on a spreadsheet.  I have one Jean, one Gus, one Gina, one Dulcie, one Miriam.  I have one Charlie and one Samuel.   Do I want more?  Maybe?  Yes? All I really ever know is I want the ones I have.  All I ever ask is can I take proper care of another right now?  It’s a daily decision not a 10 year plan.  I don’t know what we’re having for dinner tomorrow; trust me, my plans for the future are pretty vague.  My family is always complete right now.  And always might have room for another.  Both true.

I have been pregnant since July 2014.  Two years with only two small spaces where I was recovering from birth.  So it’s feels like a 2 year pregnancy.  I worry that when I celebrate the birth of my little girl, people will think “oh good she finally got that fifth baby.” Like I was trying for an accessory and it just took a really long time to acquire one.  I’m not having my fifth baby, I’m having Miriam.

Miriam would not exist if Samuel hadn’t died.  And Samuel wouldn’t exist without Charlie’s loss.  I’m thrilled beyond measure to meet Miriam.  But I can simultaneously be sad, a little angry, and confused, that those boys couldn’t be here.  I still wish it.  Because I love them.  Not the number 5.  Or the number 7.  Or the number 12.  I love them.  I wanted them: Not A child, that child, every time.  I don’t want anyone to think I just kept getting pregnant to hit a number, to prove something to myself or anyone else.  I kept getting pregnant because I kept being ready to meet my next child, whoever that might be.

I’m not any less excited to finally hold this beautiful, dainty, solemn, mysterious little girl who made it to us, looking up at me with a face so like her brother Charlie’s.  I can’t wait to get to know her better. But I will always wish I’d had that chance with the boys too.  JD told me it is kind of like I will always be pregnant with Charlie and Samuel but not give birth to them until I get to heaven.  It’s an imperfect analogy but pretty deep coming from an eight year old.  In some sense I’ll always have that hopeful waiting of a pregnant mother trying to imagine the child she loves already but has not met yet.  I still wait with breathless anticipation for our first hello.

 

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Filed under Motherhood, Our Family, Religious Ramblings, Stillbirth and Miscarriage, Uncategorized

Big Families – Bad Doodles

There is a category of question I and my friends who also have above the national average number of children get asked, or told about having “so many” kids.  I’m not talking about from the snide but from the sincerely curious.  Some are just amazed at something they’ve rarely seen before, others are contemplating adding to their own brood but are nervous.  This category I’ll call the “love” question.  Variations might include, “Don’t you feel like they don’t get enough attention?” or “I love my child so much I just can’t imagine loving another as much.” or “I feel like I’d be robbing him of me.”  When I found out, a mere nine months after JD was born that I was pregnant again, I was a) thrilled b) overwhelmed and c) sorry for JD.  I snuggled him extra thinking about how soon he wouldn’t be my one and only.  So I think these are fairly natural reactions and fears.  But in the years since then I’ve learned a lot about the nature of love, and that’s what I’d like to share today.  Now, I am not an artist.  Let’s just get that clear right out of the gate.  But they always say visuals help so I’ve sketched up a few here.

Here are a few analogies for what we might fear about expanding a family.

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As you can see, here love is a finite thing.  You have only so much and you have to ration it carefully.  Just one more:

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But that’s not how love works!  My first attempt to explain this was my Bucket Family:

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Here we see Mr. and Mrs. Bucket in their leaky roofed house.  Joy and love and blessings are continuously pouring down on them.  Eventually they are full to overflowing, better get another bucket!  I liked this analogy because it does feel in our house like we become so full to bursting with happiness that we all want to share it with another little Bucket.  But it’s not quite right.  For one thing, it would seem to say that some families get enough joy and love and blessing to grow and others don’t.  Not a fan of  that.  Also, it seems to ignore the fact that it’s very good and also easy to share your love and joy and blessings with Buckets who don’t even live with you.  Finally, the Buckets each have a limit.  But love has no limit, either in how much you give or in how much you receive.  Time for a new model. This time with no measurable things.

It starts like this:

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Pretty straight forward right?  Cait loves Mike, Mike loves Cait.  I use arrows for two reasons.  One, to show that there are two separate actions going on, one in which I am the giver, one in which I am the receiver.  Arrows also go on forever.  So I can always give more love, I can always love better.  I can also always receive more love.  Alright, got that?  Now watch what happens next:

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Ok so now there are six separate love relationships.  JD has a relationship with me and with his father.  Also, I didn’t split the previous arrows.  These new relationships are completely original, completely unique.  Now’s probably a good time to point out one of the great things about this model.  Each of those arrows is infinite remember?  So if this is as big as your family ever gets, well there’s still a limitless amount of love to be had by everyone!  But another cool thing happens when you add a sibling:

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Now we’re at 12 love relationships!  The number of relationships (each in itself infinite) grows exponentially.  Wow.  John Paul II once said that the best gift you could give a child was a sibling.  Now we see why.  Because they’re not losing out on love here!  They get extra places for love to flourish! They give and receive love from Mum, give and receive from Dad, AND give and receive with their siblings.  And it only gets better.

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(20 arrows)

And better!

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(30!)

Now this is how I picture my family.  A big chaotic mess of love jumbled together and wonderful.  I can’t lie.  You DO run out of energy.  You DO run out of patience, money, time.  But that’s by no means the same as running out of love.  If it were then anybody who worked a job, or who suffered with debilitating illness, or who was in poverty couldn’t love their child as much as a healthy, wealthy stay at home Mom.  Breadwinners would automatically love less.  Well clearly that’s silly.  And there are more than enough hands and hearts to pick up the slack when somebody is running low on any of those things.  My husband comes from a family with 11 children.  Can you imagine that chart?  Well you’ll have to.  Because I’m not going to attempt to draw it.

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Filed under Marriage, Motherhood, Our Family, Uncategorized