It still trips me out to write, or say, “my kids.” With an -s. Plural. More than one. I have two children.
Every time I say it, I skim my fingers over the surface of an immense well of gratitude. Sometimes I feel complete and utter shock. Still.
I imagine it seems odd, that I feel so surprised to have a second child. It’s not like I struggled for very long with secondary infertility. But honestly, after we were given such dismal chances of having another baby, compounded by the knowledge that we couldn’t have afforded much in the way of treatments, I was working hard at accepting we wouldn’t have another child. I knew Mi.Vida wouldn’t stand for years and years of TTC on our own, and we were planning on doing the TCM diet/acupuncture for about six months before calling it quits. We were only half way through that six months when we got pregnant, but I had already traveled far on the path of accepting life without a second child. In fact, I was finishing a book on fostering-to-adopt–and admitting to myself that Mi.Vida would never feel comfortable doing it–when we found out the improbable had actually happened.
There is truly not a day that goes by that I don’t actively give thanks for this baby in our lives. I still can’t really believe our family is complete.
I was giving even more thanks than usual this weekend. We attended two birthday parties, one on Saturday and one on Sunday–both were FILLED with two-children families. In fact, all the families that didn’t have two kids were either pregnant with their second, or planning on having a second (their firsts were not yet one). I spent much of both parties, thinking of how upset those situations made me when we were trying for our second child, how devastated I would have been standing there, among all the four person families, if we didn’t have our baby boy. Instead of holding back tears the whole time I was showing off my sweet son. Instead of wondering why I couldn’t have what they had, I was thanking my lucky stars that I did.
Not long ago Mo wrote a post about the “Paradoxes of Gratitude” after infertility that really struck me. I know I never got to the place that she did–I didn’t endure a fraction of what she went through to build her family–but I have an idea of where’s she’s coming from when she expresses the deep gratitude that comes from really truly believing that you have lost the battle, that you won’t have the child you’ve been fighting for. Journeying to a life re-imagined, a life forever marked by infertility, and then being handed the life you always hoped for, it burns away so much of the grief. Gratitude seeps into all the cracks, it bolsters the foundation, it makes you whole again. At least, that is what it did to me.
So instead of spending my time at those birthday parities grieving over all the long hours I suffered in similar situations before, I rejoice in how wonderful they feel now, in how lucky I am that now they are moments of celebration, not suffering.
Because I have my kids, plural. And I feel so indescribably lucky.
Do you ever find yourself in situations that used to trigger grief? How do they feel now?