The incomplete, complete family

Before my world shattered and my beliefs were turned on their axis, I was a firm believer in two children.  I never thought I would have to specify two living children.  I felt two children was socially, economically, logistically and environmentally responsible.  Replace yourselves. Mimimise your footprint.   In the same idealist and naive manner, I assumed that when I did have children, I would fall pregnant easily, carry blissfully, have empowering births and enjoy the baby years as the best of my life.  And that all my friends and family would enjoy the same experience.  Sometimes it seems like everyone pays a price on this journey called motherhood, and my price was an exceptionally high one.  As though the good fortune I had experienced with pregnancy, birth and babyhood stacked so high that it was destined to topple.

My white-picket fence dreams have been smashed to smithereens.  My logical approach defeated.  Because families are not logical.  They are messy and wonderful and frustrating and beautiful and they defy reason.  We go back and have more children.  Even when the baby is still crying, when the toddler is still tantrum-ing and the mother is wondering when she last had two minutes to herself.  We go back.  It defies all reason.  There is the biological imperative and there is something else.  Even when we doubt the car or the house, our hearts that will always, always accommodate more children. And once opened, they never contract.  Our babies can leave us, but the expanded heart remains.

After we said goodbye to Xavier, I came across a number of bereaved families that had gone on to have numerous children after loss.  At the time I wondered whether they were trying to mend broken hearts with babies.  After having Elijah, I no longer think that.  I think tragedy changes your priorities.  I think the importance of family grows.  I think things that seemed scarily impossible no longer seem so.  I think that in the face of surviving the death of your child, anything is possible.  I think the noise and the joy of children is the most healing of all music.

Our family feels complete and incomplete.  I do not think there are any more children.  There will always be an aching void, but it is an Xavier-shaped hole that cannot be filled by anyone else.   And with that realisation, comes a little grief of its own.   I think every woman probably feels a pang when the realisation hits that there will be no more babies.  No more pregnant bellies and pushing kicks.  No more euphoric, inexplicable, indescribable moments of joy as a newborn babe is first put to your breast.  That the intense intimacy of caring for a newborn will never occur again.  

But I know that there are even more wonderful adventures to look forward to.  That the priceless moments all three of my children give me are abundant.  That my future will be full of them.   And that is a bright future.