I am in mourning.
I have two beautiful, wonderful, smart, energetic, stubborn, argumentative, emotional, creative, perfect children, and that is all I will ever have. I will never feel another twinge in my womb. I will never again experience the power that is birth. I will never again bring a child to my breast to suckle.
It is hitting me lately as I watch those around me announce pregnancies and birth babies.
I am a mother, I am young, but this part of my life is past. And I mourn the loss of the children I thought I would have.
If I compare my loss to that felt by women who struggle with infertility, does that make me insensitive? My decision to not have more children is a choice, yes, but not really. If I truly had the choice, I would have 2, 3, 4 more. Physically, I could conceive and birth more babies. Emotionally, it is not an option. This is what hurts. My options have been taken from me, by God, by circumstance, by my own limitations? I don't know. I just know I can't have more children, and I feel an incredible sense of loss.
I have a 6 year old, and he is the fire and zest in my life. He is extraordinarily intelligent. He is creative. He is funny. He is highly passionate. He gives me reasons to smile, to laugh. He also is angry. He is impulsive. He is self-centered and rigid. He values truth and being right above everything else, above everyone else. He is explosive, whiny, emotional, intense, anxious. He tests my patience every second of every day. I am consistently failing at being the mother I want to be, and the mother I started out as.
I have a 4 year old and she is my soul. She is sweet and sensitive and intuitive. She is thoughtful, she is generous, she loves and expresses love. In her 4 years she has known only turmoil. Arguing and tantruming, slammed doors and raised voices. She has never learned how to communicate without yelling. Her older brother, who she watches for cues on how to act, has set a terrible example for her, and I haven't been much better. With her brother's behavioral changes during my pregnancy with her and my own post-partum depression after her birth, I slipped farther and farther away from being the gentle mother I had been. I tried to be patient, but after hours of patience I would explode. I yelled a lot, and when I didn't yell, my exasperation was evident. It has been a hard journey but I have come a long way since then. I rarely yell and I watch my tone and expressions. I speak positively of my children to others. I generally feel proud of myself for the changes I've made.
And yet. The damage has been done. I have one child who neurologically can't control his impulses and emotions, and I have another who has learned how she should act from him and from an imperfect mother. I wake up to kids screaming and I put screaming kids to bed at night, and most moments in between are also filled with screaming kids.
I can't do it anymore, but I do it anyway. I have to do it.
But I can't add to it. As desperately as I long for more children, my situation with my son has made it impossible for me to have more. For the two children I already have, and for any future ones that would join our family, I have to be done having babies.
And it is tearing me up.
At church when I sit next to a mother with a new baby, I ache to be there, rocking and shushing a new baby of my own. When I read birth stories and see pictures of my friends' new babies, my heart swells with desperate longing. Like nothing in the world I want to feel my child rolling, startling, kicking in my belly. I want my body to surrender to wave after wave as I birth my child. I want to gaze into my child's eyes for the first time. I want to stroke her hair as her eyes flutter in sleep as she nurses, milk dribbling down her chin. I want to feel her curled up in the curve of my body as we dream. I want to carry her close to my heart. I want to hold her in my empty arms and rock and soothe her. I want to see her crawl, take her first steps, hear her babble her first words.
I want that so desperately that my heart aches, literally; it hurts in my chest.
I am in mourning.