In the lucid and surreal manner of dreams, there is no before, but instead it begins with the overwhelming ripping and burning intensity of the baby crowning. Reaching down with my fingertips, I can feel the downy head leaving my body, a euphoric cocktail poured over the agony of my body tearing apart, forming a gateway for another life.
The little body slides from me, still tethered with the pulsing blue cord and streaked with crimson, and is placed on my chest. A redhead, another son, with new-penny lashes and the faintest veil of copper haloing his soft velvety head. Complete complete complete, my mind swirls, I have been waiting for you!
I wake up with tears on my cheeks and pillow.
Another child was always part of my plan, but life was life and didn’t care much for my plan. Abigail was 4 months old when we lost David to drugs the first time, and in retrospect, I cannot fathom going through what the ensuing years brought with an even younger baby added to the nearly crippling load I carried. And yet… the missing has never gone away.
I thought enough time had passed now. Abby is eleven, Bean and Jeffrey are both in their teens. I have a step-daughter I love who brings me additional delight—my basket is full and I am keenly aware of my own blessings. So why am I still dreaming of that baby?
There was a pregnancy after Jon and I got married four years ago. We were surprised, but incredibly happy, as we braced for starting over with a new caboose. Eight weeks in, I lost that baby, and we both grieved for what would not be. It forced us to really look at our lives and ask ourselves what direction we wished to move. I had to face the fact that the miscarriage was incredibly taxing and stressful on my body and it took me a long time to recover and feel healthy again. Hyperemesis in one’s early thirties was one thing, in the early forties, entirely another. Was it worth the risk?
Jon and I both nearly lost our mothers to complications from later pregnancies and miscarriages. I had to weight the very real needs of our children here with the idea of another who haunted my dreams, and the physical limitation of my body. It was a teary decision for both of us, but we definitively closed the book on that chapter of our lives.
Neither of us regrets it.
And yet, I still dream. I dream of the little redheaded boy I am missing, and that dream is persistent, recurring, and very, very real. There is nothing I can do about it; the limits of the physical world hemmed us all in.
I’m sorry, baby. I am sorry for time, for addiction, for aging, for the impermanence of open doorways. I am sorry that circumstances made it impossible for me to bring you to our family, regardless of how much I wanted you. I don’t know how these things work. As a matter of reality, I’m not certain of very many things at all as I get older. But I am certain that I love you.