Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Trying Again--Against All Odds

By Cynthia Prest
With my first three miscarriages, I knew I was going to try again for a child. There was no question in my mind. When I had my unfathomable fourth miscarriage, after my son was born, I wondered if trying again was the right thing to do. I went through a short period of time where I thought we should give up. I changed my mind, and I went on to have two more pregnancies and miscarriages. In the exam room after learning our most recent child had died, I asked my husband, “How do you feel about Tyler being an only child?” I was reacting out of shock and unimaginable grief. He laughed in a “I can’t believe you’re asking me that” kind of way. Of course, he was fine with that. I just couldn’t imagine going through this experience again.

For reasons I have yet to discover, it was only after this most recent miscarriage that it occurred to me that my husband and I weren’t the only ones who should be involved in the decision. We had friends, family, and a child who were experiencing this right along with us. For that reason, I started to seriously consider whether it was fair to all of us to keep going through this.

When I met with a new doctor a few months ago, I asked her if I was crazy to keep trying to have a child after having six miscarriages. She looked me in the eyes and said very seriously, “This is your path. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you shouldn’t be on this path.” Her compassion and reassurance were tremendously healing. I knew I had to keep going.

My track record of having successful pregnancies isn’t great. I’ve had one live birth out of seven. What logical reason exists for me to keep trying?

I was reading through my journal recently and came across a quote I captured while reading The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, shortly after my fourth miscarriage. The couple at the center of the story had lost several children during pregnancy. The husband is trying to convince his wife to try again. He said, “One more time. Not because it won’t be terrible if it happens again, but because it’ll be wonderful if it doesn’t.” I held on to those words for many months, and it kept me going through the next two losses. Yes, it may happen again. But, what if it doesn’t?

I had a conversation with someone a couple of years ago about my then two year-old’s emerging stubbornness. I admitted proudly that trait came from me. He said it’s unusual for someone to admit to being stubborn (it’s not one of the classically positive character traits). I said my stubbornness had served me well. He grinned in a “good for you” kind of way. I try to maintain that attitude when Tyler is being exceptionally persistent.

Is it stubbornness that propels me forward? Is it faith? Is it believing this is the path that I was destined to be on? I don’t believe I need to have two children or was destined to be the mother of two kids. I just have always wanted two – that’s the picture I created of my life. I suppose part of my determination comes from resisting something preventing me from reaching my goal. I have drive. I get stuff done. And this is something I can’t get done. And that infuriates me. So, maybe that’s it – it’s the rage that propels me forward and keeps me trying against all the odds.

Perhaps there’s a resilience that grows out of repeatedly being denied something I want so badly…a strength that comes from trying to prove things wrong. It’s like telling a four year-old he can’t have something; he just wants it more. “I’ll show you,” he says. Maybe that’s not just young children; perhaps that mentality exists in all of us. I’ve talked to so many (too many) people who have experienced the death of a child, and with every story I hear, I wonder, “How do they keep going?” Perhaps our persistence is healthy – it keeps us moving forward, which is the best way to go.