When I met my husband, we decided after about one week of dating that we were exclusively dating each other. About three months later, right before Thanksgiving, we decided to get married. Eight months after that we were married.
The first child, our Eldest Daughter, arrived in the world *almost* exactly five years to the day from the fateful evening we decided to be together. We both knew we wanted to have children, but enjoyed our time together alone until we felt ready for kids. It took exactly one year to conceive that first child. Pregnancy was so rough for me emotionally; I had tearfully informed Aaron that this would be our only child. Fast forward to one week after she was born. In my postpartum euphoria/depression, I wept over the sadness of only having one child. He matter-of-factly stated, “Sarah, this doesn’t have to be our only child.”
After moving cross-country to live near family, our Eldest Son was born. He was eighteen months after his sister, but was conceived after only three months. Undiagnosed acid reflux, hydrocele surgery at four months, constant double ear infections from 6 months to a year, hospitalization for pneumonia, and daily asthma treatments had me knocked down and out. Not to mention that he wouldn’t sleep for more than a couple of hours at a time. We seriously doubted we would be having any more children.
As time wore on, it became an issue of constant tension in our marriage. We had originally dreamed of having four children. The reality of two kids was so overwhelming, but I had babies on the brain. A job change for Aaron and improved health of Eldest Son finally brought us to a point of readiness to try for child #3. Four months later, we conceived; forty-one weeks later, our Younger Son was born.
Younger Son failed his hearing test at birth and we were assured it happened all the time. After two subsequent tests, failings, and assurances we had the big test done and learned that he had bilateral sensorineural moderate-severe hearing loss. He was fitted with hearing aids at four months, but combined with his itchy eczema skin he ripped them out all the time and was covered in deep scratches all over his face and head no matter how short I kept his nails. We were using steroid cream on him daily. He had many tests and doctor visits that first year to determine if his hearing loss stood alone, and wasn’t part of a bigger syndrome he might have. He developed asthma that year too. Around the time of his second birthday, he started vomiting inexplicably 1-3 times a day. More tests ensued, with the verdict: peanut and egg white allergies.
Things started to calm down as we adjusted to our new normal. Overall, our children were healthy and happy. Eldest son began to outgrow his asthma. We knew how to read labels to protect Younger Son, and he finally realized his hearing aids actually HELPED HIM TO HEAR. By the time Eldest Son was diagnosed with the same type of hearing loss it was no big deal. We already knew the ropes, had an audiologist we loved, knew how to change batteries and clean out the aids, and were familiar with the special ed teachers in our school district.
Although there was still a lot of tension over whether or not we would have more children, we finally agreed again that we would love to have just one more child. Youngest daughter was conceived after six months. She was born into the world as a calm, beautiful angel. She slept well, she was healthy, her hearing was perfect, she had (has!) the sweetest disposition. I grieved over every “last” that happened: last time she slept in the co-sleeper, last time she took her morning nap, last time she wore her 12 month pajamas… I usually didn’t know the exact “last” but I dreaded them.
As marriages do, ours fluctuated. We started as the typical couple, feeling like our relationship was different and special than the usual relationships. We wouldn’t have real problems. We could work everything out together. Our love was just so strong. Life happens though. Love is tested, and stretched, and bent, and even broken. It offers hope, followed by despair, followed by renewed zeal, followed by failed promises, followed by new understanding, etc. etc. Amidst all of the real nitty gritty of marriage, we did agree that the only reason we weren’t having another baby was because of fear. We both felt like children are a blessing from the Lord and we adore our children. We agreed that whatever would be, would be. With our history of conception, we had time to change our minds.
It was to our great surprise that we immediately became pregnant. (Yes, we know how children are conceived. It had just never happened so easily before!) To be honest, we had very mixed emotions. The other children were thrilled and excited. So many of our family friends have suffered miscarriages, including two in a row of one of my closest friends. The kids all prayed every day that our baby would live. At the same time, we weren’t really expecting any issues, as I’d had four healthy pregnancies and never a problem. At ten weeks I started feeling remarkably better, and in a panic I called my midwife group. I hadn’t been in for an appointment yet, as my first one was cancelled due to vomiting children while Aaron was traveling. They had me come in and did an ultrasound right away. I was relieved when they found the little babe with its heart pumping away on the screen.
Five weeks later, I went in for my first real appointment. After going through all the questions and concerns, blood pressure, weight, how I was feeling (horrible again), listening to the heartbeat on the doppler was the icing on the cake at the end. I didn’t have a worry in my mind when it took a while; I had been through this before. But then there was nothing… followed by nothing… followed by nothing. Finally the midwife suggested we get in for an ultrasound.
Fortunately Aaron was in the car with the kids because we were heading to Costco after this simple routine appointment. I scheduled the ultrasound as soon as possible, about an hour later, and went to tell him the news. Everyone came back up with me, but I went in to the ultrasound alone so Aaron could stay with the kids. I still held hope that the baby was just tucked away, out of reach of the doppler. As soon as the image of that little body came up onto the screen, I saw the still heart. The one that I had seen blinking away just weeks before. I asked the technician, and she confirmed. The baby had died one week before.