Quite often, for me at least, the questions of What If had been relegated to the pregnancy and/or time of the loss. It wasn’t until last weekend that the What Ifs made the change to life after loss.
It was Sunday, and we were at the grocery store. It was late in the day, and we should have known better. There were kids and babies everywhere. And pushing many of them, the parents who were more concerned with what was on their phone than the human being in their cart (yes, I realize this is judgmental, and at the same time, if you look around, you may just realize it is also true). It wasn’t until we were in line that I heard it. Five words that crushed me: “Hi, I’m Sally, Janie’s mom…”
That’s when it hit me: What If I’m never able to say that phrase? And it wasn’t just me. Earlier in the day, Double A said to me, I’m not sure what I’m more sad about, the notion of what actually happened to us, or the idea that I may have to give up my dream of having (living) kids.
Of course we don’t know what lies ahead in our quest for family. At this point trying again seems out of the question, although we have promised to meet with our doctor and have a “conversation” during my 6-week after check up (I’m sure I’ll have more to say on that subject later). Before we lost our twins, I had it in my head that somehow, some way, we would get our family. Maybe by conceiving “naturally” (read: by any means possible) and/or by adopting. Now, I’m not so sure.
Trying to readjust to the possibility of this new reality, is another layer of the grieving process. Now there are all of the questions that swirl in my head and haunt me, some related to having biological kids, including, but definitely not limited to: What If I never know the joys of a healthy, full-term pregnancy? What If my only experiences with pregnancy and labor are ones that end in tragedy? What If I never get to feel the kicks and full movement? What If I never experience breast-feeding? And then those that are related to having kids in general: What if I miss out on the middle of the night snuggling and bonding? What if I never hear the words, Hey Mom? If I’m never woken up in the middle of the night? Thrown up on? Or any of the other things that many parents would complain about? (again judging, yet I’ll stand by it) Not to mention all of the What Ifs as they continue to grow and mature. The firsts, the stories, the conversations, inside jokes and moments.
What If I never get to see what features of Double A and mine our children would get outside of seeing our twins with Double A’s lips on our son, and my nose on our daughter? Of course I know if we are lucky enough to adopt, our children will pick up plenty of traits from us. But what if we don’t get that option? And I don’t want anyone to confuse these questions with not being grateful for the possibility of adopting. It is rather a forced change of expectations.
We are, and have been since we “went live” in February, working with our adoption agency, in the hopes that we could become parents that way. But the fact remains, in spite of what our best-intentioned family and friends tell us, no one can promise us it is going to happen. Even our agency is realistic on this, and won’t promise “it will happen” for anyone. How can they? Truth is, no one knows.
The challenge for today, and each day moving forward, is to push past the What Ifs, and focus on doing whatever we can to spread the word, make connections and try to make it happen. Right now that seems like a somewhat impossible challenge. I just hope we have the strength—and courage—to do so. Because in the end, we really need to be able to say those five words.