Getting There

by Kathy on January 30, 2012 · 17 comments

in Abby, Background, Bob, Decisions, Family, Happiness, Infertility, Life, Loss, Molly, Sean, The Future

I wrote this post a few months ago, but wasn’t ready to share it until now. I think this partly because when I wrote it I believed what I was saying whole-heartedly. And then a little while later I didn’t.

Re-reading this periodically became a gage for me to see where I stood on the issue at hand. I have circled back (confidently at that) and even discussed with a therapist. I decided this was more than important enough to address with a professional after all that we have been through in the ten years since we started trying to build our family.

That said, here is what I wrote (sometime in November last year), though I could have just as easily written it today.

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Recently Bob and I have revisited our “soft decision” to not try to have anymore children. We tabled our discussion about this for awhile after Abby was born and again after we met with the pediatric geneticist.

Over the past few months, for various reasons, I have thought a lot about if and when we will make our choice to be done a “hard decision.”

We even flirted with trying for another or at least not avoiding, being open to new life and seeing what happens (within a time frame and a set end date).

But in the end, we keep coming back to our choice to be done. Rationally speaking, I understand why it makes sense for us to end our family building journey sooner, rather than later. We have given so much of our time and energy in our marriage and family to this pursuit and we feel ready to move on (for the most part).

However, we all know that there are so many layers and emotions wrapped up in trying to build and expand our families, that these decisions are not ones we take lightly or come to easily.

During a recent conversation about this topic, Bob said if you don’t feel ready to make this final or if you have any doubts we should wait until we are absolutely sure. I appreciated where he was coming from, but explained that I don’t think I will ever feel completely ready or sure that the time is right to put this stage of our lives behind us and move on.

No matter when we make this hard decision about being done with family building, I know that I will have mixed feelings that I need to work through and make peace with. However, that isn’t a reason to try to have more kids, just to avoid the inevitable.

We love children and though parenting isn’t always easy, we feel blessed and grateful for the two living children in our life. There was a time when we hoped for and dreamed about having a big family. But our family building/expanding efforts didn’t go as we planned (which is an understatement) and we realize now that it is okay to let our hopes, dreams and plans for our future, especially our family, evolve.

We want to give our time, love and attention to the two healthy and adorable living children that we already have, rather then dividing that time and attention with trying to expand our family.

After all we have been through to get where we are today, we think that the risk of another loss and everything that goes along with a Subsequent Pregnancy After Loss (SPAL) is not worth it to us anymore.

Though we know we could and would be able to survive another pregnancy like we experienced with Molly, if something like that we’re to happen, we are not willing to put ourselves, our family and especially our living children at risk of going through that again.

Will I always wonder how things might have been different had our family building efforts gone as we imagined they would? Yes! I do think some small part of me will hold on to such fantasies of an alternate reality of our life and family.

But the bottom line is that after years of trying and so desperately wanting more, I feel truly content (and really happy) with the way our family is right now.

Bob, Sean and Abby (with Molly and Babies Benson always in our hearts) is more than enough for me to feel that our family is complete.

Though I will likely never get that “Full House” that I wanted and dreamed of, Four of Kind (with Babies Benson and our Queen of Hearts in Heaven) works for me and I feel so very blessed and grateful.

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Esperanza January 30, 2012 at 8:47 am

A truly moving post. I can't imagine the time, energy and heart that went into reaching that decision. While I understand the joy that you feel being with your children I also understand how hard it is to let your original dreams go.

My partner and I talk about the size of our family all the time. I would like three and he, well he didn't originally want any so I think it's clear where he stands. I know we probably can't afford three. I know when it comes down to it I can't give rational arguments for why we should have three (in fact all the rational arguments seem to support NOT have three). So I'm just waiting, biding my time, until the choice in one I'm actually making and not reflecting on. I know, deep in my heart that it's already been made but I think I'm avoiding facing it until I absolutely have to. I wish everything in life, especially family planning, we're simpler but alas, it is not. I also wish my brain could tell my heart how to fell. Sadly that is also out of the question.

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2 Deborah January 30, 2012 at 9:41 am

I love the picture! The four of you, together, moving off into a new phase! I've been thinking about this issue a lot lately, too, although I'm at a different stage than you are. I always thought I wanted 3 children. K wanted 1 or 2, so I figured we'd have 2 and then, if I still wanted a third, I'd try to convince him. But as I'm seeing that it's much harder to have a second than I would've thought, I'm wondering whether I need to give up on that idea of a third. The reality is you *never* know exactly how things'll turn out, though. You can't control the sex of your kids, you generally can't control the age spacing. So maybe number is just another unknown. I hope you are feeling more at peace with this decision – you must be, if you posted this.

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3 Tina @HeatherandTina.com January 30, 2012 at 10:36 am

Lovely post Kathy. Even with the decision to not have kids, your biological clock and hormones can make things fuzzy at times. I'm glad to hear you're feeling comfortable with your decision.

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4 Lavender Luz January 30, 2012 at 11:00 am

Such a perfectly evocative image of the moving forward part of your decision, plus the wistfulness of potentials that are still within your vision and grasp.

Wishing you well with your decision, however firm that it ends up being.

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5 Anonymous January 30, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Kathy,

I felt compelled to comment having been in a similar place a few years back. I have two amazing miracle children that I am in complete awe of every day. However to get there I encountered 5 heartbreaking miscarriages, 8 IVF’s, endless doctor’s appointments, hundreds of injections and endless months of bed rest that consumed over a decade of my life. Was it all worth it? Yes. Would I do it all again? Absolutely, positively, no question about it, yes. (interesting, as I write this, I’m catching myself saying “I” but it was certainly “we”).

We eventually reached a point where it was time to stop, to accept, to step back and say “This is it, we’re done, and it’s okay.” And it is okay, in fact, it’s wonderful; healthy beautiful children and marriage that remained strong despite so much pain. But and here’s the but “hard stop” or not, I believe it stays with you, or at least it did me. I no longer covet every pregnant woman I see, I’ve given away all of my maternity clothes, and when the question comes up I answer without hesitation “Nope we’re done!” I’m still sad through. My experiences changed me, altered my reality to a new reality that I’m still navigating. I still have lucid dreams where I’m pregnant or holding a baby and am so disappointed when I wake up and realize it was only a dream. I guess my point is it’s a process and you’ve taken the first step. I think it’s awesome you’re able to truly feel these feelings and then verbalize them so eloquently and no doubt help others. Wishing you the best. OX

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6 It Is What It Is January 30, 2012 at 5:25 pm

I've expended intellectual and emotional energy with similar thoughts. When the life we envisioned isn't quite the life we are living and especially when that is because of factors beyond our control (IF, for instance) we are left to adjust our dreams in a way that makes living our reality easier. I have also learned that coming to terms and wistful longing can co-exist. When I apply that thinking to other, less emotional aspects of my life than family building, I know that it is true. I have always longed to live on a working ranch but it just isn't going to happen and that doesn't change how grateful I am for our house in the suburbs.

I know that is not the same as the more monumental decision of when to stop family building and commence family being (something I am coming to terms with myself, as you know). However you get to the decision and however final it is, it is OK to wish that it could have been different under different circumstances. It is something to acknowledge and let go.

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7 loribeth January 30, 2012 at 6:47 pm

Even when you know you're in a good place now in your life, it's hard to close the door definitively on a longtime dream. (((hugs))) I love that photo!! : )

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8 Anonymous January 30, 2012 at 7:26 pm

such a beautiful photo….

Gratitude is a very difficult thing sometimes. I love that you seek it and can feel it. Like you, I am in a good place (thank G-d) and have two happy healthy children, I still occasionally feel sadness and longing for the children I wanted but don't have. A health scare with a genetic component in one of our children (who is now fine) stopped us from trying to have any more. I don't think I'll ever stop wondering "If we were to have another child, would he/she be OK?" Luckily, time is catching up and soon I will be too old. I suppose it's still technically possible for me to get pregnant and deliver a healthy baby at this point, but I already feel too old, which helps to offset the primal urges to just go for it. I'm looking forward to being old enough to have the decision sealed for me. 😉

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9 Lisa January 30, 2012 at 8:48 pm

After reading your blog post, I want to share my grandpa’s story with you:

My grandfather is 87 years old, and lives with me for three months every winter. He has lived and continues to live a good life. He and my grandmother (of blessed memory) had three children…with at least 7 miscarriages between them. Their first living child, my father, was born premature weighing about 4 pounds in a Navy clinic on a small island in the days before the NICU and medivac existed. After the birth of their third living child, 12 years later, they were told to stop trying or to risk my grandmother’s life. They stopped trying to grow their family by having children, and instead grew it by welcoming six healthy grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren into their lives.

Every once in a while, maybe after seeing an orthodox family surrounded by numerous kids, or a pregnant women with several kids at the grocery store, my grandfather will wistfully tell me, “Your grandmother and I wanted six kids. We tried very hard.” Then he will get a faraway look on his face and be lost for a few moments before rejoining me in the here & now.

I guess my point is…the joyful man with 17 living descendants, the man who revels in helping my kids with their homework, who has dinner once a week with my cousin Josh and his kids, who tells every waitress/golf attendant/storeclerk who will listen that he has “three children, six grandchildren, and eight great-grandchildren!”, this man who daily celebrates the family he has, is still mourning the family he wanted to build but couldn’t.

Some people have so much love, that just two or three children isn’t enough to absorb it all.

With much love, your friend Lisa. 🙂

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10 Kerry January 30, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Don't forget, to a lot of people 4 in a family is a full house. Do what you know in your heart is the right decision. We support you in all your decisions!

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11 Kristin January 30, 2012 at 10:35 pm

Oh Kathy, what a truly beautiful picture of you guys. I can only imagine how hard it was to make this decision but it sounds like you are doing what is right for your family.

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12 dspence January 31, 2012 at 7:29 am

“But the bottom line is that after years of trying and so desperately wanting more, I feel truly content (and really happy) with the way our family is right now.”

You’ve hit it right on the mark.

The road to peace, even after R’s surgery, has been a long one. There have been times when I have mourned the fact that we couldn’t try. Those are the moment when I have been forced to look back at our decision – one that we made together and with peace – and had to trust that we did the right thing. After the confusion the beginning of last week, I realized that I am content with our family of four. Closure is such a beautiful thing – I feel peaceful for the first time.

I hope that this decision brings you and your family peace, too. You may feel regret at times but knowing that you made the decision with peace and prayer makes it much easier.

Just as someone who’s been there – be sure he gets the final count as scheduled. It’s been 30 months since R’s surgery and he didn’t do his final. That was a long time to hope!

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13 Meg February 6, 2012 at 9:51 pm

I wrote soon after you posted this. The first time in awhile that I had commented here rather than Facebook. But then, as I shared, it didn’t post as I was signed into my work G-mail account and didn’t notice. Hate it when that happens as I liked the original better but wasn’t able to re-type immediately.

So, I will try to recreate what I wrote a week ago. I admire how much thought Bob and you have put into this. I also see how you (as quoted above) “feel truly content (and really happy) with the way our family is right now.” You two have built such a beautiful family and we are so grateful to be an extended part of it.

As we contemplate what life might be like if we don’t end up adopting again and sweet Cora is our only child, reading your words helps me come to peace with that. And being at peace with that makes the adoption journey (along with the risk that we’ll be matched and they’ll decided to keep it again) not quite as scary.

I’m really grateful to have you as a sister and that you have traveled some of these roads before me and are so willing to share your wisdom.

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14 Justine June 11, 2013 at 6:52 am

Such a beautiful post. I love the way your picture captures it, too: walking forward, together, with just a little look back, but determined. Maybe there’s a pang of uncertainty, but you know the road you’ve chosen. It’s so clear to me that you “feel truly content (and really happy) with the way our family is right now.” You work so hard at nurturing the family that you have, and your sense of being blessed shines through in every post, even when you are posting about grieving Molly and Babies Benson. It’s inspiring to read.
Justine recently posted..NaBloPoMo: Worry About Yourself, and Roasted Tomato Soup with FarroMy Profile

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15 April June 12, 2013 at 7:44 pm

I love that pic. Abby’s grown so much!

I’m waiting for the day I can say I’m content as well. I hope I remember to come back and read this.
April recently posted..Time Warp Tuesday: DecisionsMy Profile

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