Family legacies, they can be very life-altering presences. In my case, the family legacy I most identify with hangs like a black cloud over me, threatening to take my children like it took my mother’s.
I can imagine it’s hard to understand why I’m so scared to loss this baby. I mean, I had a healthy pregnancy and child the first (well, second) time around. There is every reason to believe the same will happen this time. I say that to myself a lot: I already had a healthy baby, there is a great chance I’ll have another. I know my body can perform this incredible task. In fact, I remind myself of that on a nearly daily basis; I shouldn’t have to worry about a second trimester miscarriage because my body has already proven it doesn’t have the abnormalities that generally (but not always) cause them.
Except my mother had every reason to believe the same things when she had her second child. I’m sure after trying for over two years to conceive me she was thrilled to find herself pregnancy again after so little trying the second time. I’m sure she thought that she might just be able to have the family of three or four she always dreamed of.
Except she didn’t get to have that. My sister was born with so many grave medical problems that she never left the NICU and died before celebrating her third month birthday. She had so many surgeries during that time that she spent most of her life in pain. My mother had every reason to believe that her second child would arrive happy and healthy, but she did not. That wasn’t what happened at all.
After mourning my sister’s death, my mother kept trying to build her family. She got pregnant again–with a baby boy–and lost him at five months. Then she got pregnant again–with another baby boy–and again she lost him at five months. After she lost her third son she decided she had had enough of birthing dead or dying babies and went in to get her tubes tied. That was when she found out she was pregnant with my second sister.
So you see, my mother had every reason to believe that her second child would come to her happy and healthy, and yet she didn’t. And neither did her third or fourth or fifth children. They all died. She lost each and every one of them. And seven years after I was born she was finally able to welcome another healthy baby to her family. My sister is my mother’s second child–as far as the world is concerned–but really, she is her seventh. (My parents put my older sister up for adoption when they were 17, 10 years before I was born). So yeah, I’m a little scared of what might happen on my quest to have a second child. I know I have every reason to believe that it will be alright, that my second baby will arrive healthy and happy. But I know that not everyone’s story arrives at the fairy tale ending. I lived through all those babies lives and deaths, even if I don’t clearly remember them. Their passings are etched on my soul as surely as they are etched on my mother’s and the greif of their short lives is engrained in my subconscious.
So I think it makes a sick kind of sense that I’m scared for my second child. So much of my reproductive history mirrored my mother’s and while I recognize that her story is not my own, it’s hard not to worry that the reflection is more complete than I’d ever hope it to be.