April 3, 2019 on Motherhood Made Me
It’s Saturday morning and I find myself in a room full of women who gathered for a group reading with a psychic medium. I was naturally skeptical but very curious when I bought my ticket. During the last hour, the medium has communicated messages from a handful of lost loved ones to women in the room. There has been a dad, a brother-in-law, a grandmother, a childhood friend. Each time “a spirit comes forward,” as the medium explains, the begins with sharing basic information such as gender and family relation as well as images that get communicated by the spirit until she has identified the living relative in the room. More detailed information and messages then get exchanged. We have time for one more spirit. “Oh dear,” she says, “this is a tough one. Can anyone identify with a little boy, 4-5 years old?” No response. “Okay, let’s try it differently. Did anyone have a miscarriage 4-5 years ago?” Silence in the room. My body electrifies, and I begin to sweat.
Every time I fill out an intake form at a doctor’s office I am reminded of my womb’s rollercoaster ride over the years. Four pregnancies, two children. How ironic that there was a time in my life I wouldn’t readily have understood that the answers to these questions weren’t automatically the same. I had an abortion in my early twenties and suffered a missed miscarriage about ten years later. In between I had my daughter, and my son joined the family the year after the miscarriage. This makes both my children so-called “rainbow babies.” Motherhood is raw.
June 2. That’s the date they had estimated. The rest of the facts I have successfully eliminated from my memories. I don’t even remember exactly how far along I was. 8 weeks? Maybe 11? It was legal up to 12 weeks. When we met with a social worker to get the official permission for the procedure, my only concern was to ask her whether the baby would feel any pain. He or she had made me a mom. He or she would now be 13 years old. I knew then that the only way I could find peace was to experience an entire pregnancy, to birth a child, to become a mother, again.
Six years later, fully supported by a loving man by my side, I was fortunate to birth a healthy girl. She was perfect. And my heart was full. So full that for several years I could not even imagine having space for a second child – in my heart, in my family life, and in my busy schedule as a Ph.D. student. How do you ever really want a second child? I kept wondering. I knew that I wanted my daughter to have a sibling but did I want a second child? To be honest, not really…
Until I held a positive pregnancy test in my hands one fall day in 2013. There it was again – the instantaneous love and connection only a mother understands. Only this time it wasn’t meant to be. I was diagnosed with a missed miscarriage. A miscarriage that my body missed for way too many weeks. It seemed to hold on to the pregnancy for dear life. Numerous lab works and ultrasound exams revealed that my pregnancy hormones kept rising and that the amniotic sac kept growing. I tried acupuncture, herbs, and homeopathy. Christmas and New Year’s turned into blurs, and I fell into a deep hole. At almost 12 weeks I gave in and opted for the surgery. That was four days before my birthday.
What remained were deep sadness and a strong desire for a healthy pregnancy and baby. My body kept mourning until the estimated due date passed. And shortly after, my second rainbow baby was on the way. Another summer child. My son has made my heart bigger and full in a way I never thought possible. I often say that he was worth waiting for.
I raise my hand, blood rushing through my head. The medium gives me the message that it wasn’t my body’s fault but a heart condition that made the pregnancy unviable. She confirmed that I had another child after I lost this pregnancy, and explained that both souls had a pact, that my unborn child had to leave to make room for my son. She asked if there are a lot of balls in my house because she is seeing the image of bouncing balls. Let’s just say that since as long as I can remember, my last born has been obsessed with all kinds of ball sports. She wraps up our session: “He’s out there, and he calls you mom. He’s watching over your son. Make sure your son knows about his guardian angel as he grows up.”
All my children had summer due dates within a few weeks apart from each other. A midwife once explained to me that in addition to monthly cycles, she strongly believes that women go through larger cycles in their hormones and fertility. The female body is so wise and complex. Four pregnancies, two children. And two angels.