Monday, May 14, 2012

Godchildren, Hindsight, and Living the New Normal

Yesterday I attended the baptism of Michael Joseph, our first godchild.  Unfortunately, Dave had to miss it, but we had a good friend stand as proxy.  It was a gathering of the usual suspects, other young families of Christendom's class of 2008.  Thankfully, I found I wasn't nearly as bothered by it as I would have been six months ago.

At this point, more than a year removed from losing Little Dave, I'm probably about as over it as I ever will be.  The last few weeks in particular have been much better, all things considered.  Everyone's personal tragedy has a social expiration date, after which one really shouldn't keep nagging Facebook about it, or look for ways to bring it up in conversation.  The world has moved on, even if I feel like I physically haven't.  Being alone has really brought it all to the forefront lately.  If you've seen the movie, "Into Great Silence," that's what it's like around our apartment, and not in a good way.  I got married because I was no good at the contemplative life.  Yet, here I am.

They say you never think it will be you.  I know I never did.  My life had been picture perfect vanilla until two years ago.  I had a lovely childhood with no serious injuries, illnesses, or setbacks, cruised through school, went to college, met a great guy who is so much like me he could be a long lost twin, and was engaged a year after graduation.  We did have some suspicion that the matter of children could be dicey just because of certain aspects of our medical history, but we didn't let it dampen our spirits too much.  We were married in January and pregnant by Easter, but then all our expectations began to crumble rapidly.

I had been looking forward to those kids for years.  I remember a specific trash bag commercial I saw during those weeks while I was waiting to follow Dave to California after the wedding.  I was sure Dave would be an excellent father and make adorable children, probably even cuter than that kid.

Needless to say, my expectations of my life have changed significantly.  At this point, taking all my medical setbacks into consideration along with our hypothetical genetic issues and my apparent inability to carry to term, I am resigned to the fact that we'll never actually be able to raise those adorable children we were supposed to have.  At least, not any that are biologically our own.  Some people just knock harder when that door refuses to open.  I tend to take the hint and accept the rejection before we waste a lot of money or I really hurt myself trying.

I have no problem whatsoever with adopting.  That's currently the five-year plan.  What actually still bothers me - more so while he's not around to tell me I'm being stupid for thinking it - is that Dave deserved to have his own family.  I feel like the defective one in this relationship.  He was wonderful throughout the whole ordeal, but he never asked for all this.  Of course, no one does, but I was mortified, particularly because the timing could not have been worse for him, BOTH times.  I married him to be a help and support, not an invalid who can't stay out of the hospital or muster up enough strength to feed herself.  Part of what has scared me away from deliberately attempting another pregnancy is the thought that the black icing on the cake would be for me to die of uterine rupture and leave him completely high and dry.  I can't even bear the thought.  I've already failed him often enough.

In the meantime, most of our friends have budding families with all the traditional milestones, baptisms, first teeth, first steps, first birthdays.  Their blogs and Facebook pages are full of happy pictures and updates.  It can be extremely bittersweet.  I've invested a lot of mental effort into trying to feel blessed to have two saints rather than merely deprived of viable offspring, and some days are better than others.

In order to move on and be functional we almost have to forget, but we really don't want to forget anything because we already have little enough to remember, and the only memories we have are of hospitals and heartbreak.  I feel guilty when I forget.  It seems particularly hard while there aren't any other children demanding my attention.  Instinctively I feel like I should spend time with them now and then, but what that has basically amounted to up to this point is sitting on the couch and thinking about what we could have been doing.

One lesson I have learned, or at least finally come to accept, is that none of us is entitled to anything in this life.  Their normal may not be our normal.  Our normal is not what we thought it would be, but we are expected to make something of it, and in the end it will be for the best.  Eventually it will be like cheese.  For almost a year I went dairy free and felt painfully deprived each time I saw a pizza.  But after several months I just accepted that cheese was only for other people and that I would have to be happy with something else.  Eventually I forgot what cheese tasted like.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to pull it together to be the tough Navy wife with nerves of steel who can handle anything.  I refuse to fail at anything else, because that would just be lame.  So long as I have some meaningful human contact at least once a week, I'll stay sane.  I actually don't know exactly how long Dave has been gone.  I don't remember, and I haven't kept track.  It's easier that way, since I don't know when he'll be back.

In any case, being alone has given me the chance to confront all my issues and pull my life back together for its own sake.  My life is still awesome, even with all it's apparent flaws.  I haven't been permanently traumatized, and the only substance I have ever abused is chocolate.  I'm determined to get this show back on the road despite the detour.  I haven't quite achieved the goal of domestic warrior demigoddess, but just you wait.


  1. Powerful post. I can't tell you how sorry I am for the losses you've experienced.

    My wife had a miscarriage earlier this year. We both grieve, my wife especially. I posted about it on my own blog (link below) and wish I could write more about it.

    We are blessed (at least most of the time) to have our two children, but it's not a consolation prize for the loss of our third who would have been due in September.

    Your husband is lucky to have you. Follow God's plan, whatever it is, and everything will be fine!

  2. I can only imagine what you've been through, and I am so glad that you are doing better. If you're up for it, I would really like to hang out with you more. Just let me know.

  3. Where did you learn such courage? I am so proud of the woman you are.

    1. Thanks, Daddy. It must be genetic. ;)

  4. You are, quite honestly, the toughest mom I know. I know that's probably no comfort, but I look up to you a lot.

    I pray that your adoption dreams come true. You two will make some kids very blessed.

  5. I am so very glad to have found your blog, and this was the current post. God has a way of directing us, and allowing us to experience things of joy, and of sorrow in order to prepare us for what awaits us next.

    I will not bore you with my back story, but will instead share this: Please, please, please consider looking in your state and/or county at the foster system. Most if not all are set up with two paths. One is for just fostering the children in the system. The second is a foster to adopt program. These children are God's children as well and need loving mothers and fathers too.

    The motto there is that the children are looking for "Forever Families" and also the children were born in your heart, not your belly. There are so many children waiting and wanting to love you. God has a way of placing the child he created just for you with you, in His time, in His way.

    As I said, I will not bore you with the details, but God has blessed my wife and I with five wonderful children over the years from the foster system - all adopted and they are our children in every way. God just chose families like yours and ours to have and raise children in a different, and special way - a way that was like St. Joseph's.

    God Bless, and keep up the great blog!!