Adjusting to Three, When We Wanted Four

This weekend I cleaned out all of Thea’s baby clothes. I was over the moon—they went to a lovely friend who has been trying to get pregnant with her own babe for a long time. I’m elated to see her sweet baby girl in the pieces that hold so many memories for me when she joins the world later this year.

I’ve had Thea’s clothes and baby things sitting in the basement for the past three years in the hopes that some sort of miracle pregnancy would happen. I knew in my heart it wouldn’t, but I’d read about it happening and even had a few friends experience it—so I stupidly allowed for that hope to creep in. But I’m at the point now where I’m tired of waiting for a miracle—waiting with anxious breath that time each month to see if something against the odds of science would happen to me too.

Watching that last bag of things get placed in my friend’s trunk felt good, and I’m grateful for that. I honestly wasn’t sure how I would handle it emotionally, as emotions love to surprise you. I’ve found, especially in this journey, that there are feelings that hide themselves so deeply, only to surface at the most inopportune times.

After my friend left with all of the trash bags filled with the hopes that I had decided to let go of, I sat down on the couch with a glass of wine and mindlessly started scrolling through Facebook. And there it was. A birth announcement. A sweet, brand new baby being held by his big brother beaming ear to ear. And my heart began to ache.

They say grief comes in stages, and I’m no stranger to processing loss after losing my dad. However, that grief came in the normal phases. Shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, testing and lastly acceptance. Grief stemming from infertility is so much more up and down, as I find myself skipping back and forth between acceptance and denial. That’s a leap back and forth between five entire stages! It’s not as final as something like death, so at what point do you finally retire the hope that your body will do what it’s built to? I’m continuing to reprocess everything over and over, and that takes an emotional toll.

Shortly after those Facebook photos were posted, another post went up—this time about how this sweet baby was a rainbow baby after a loss the previous year. I’m grateful that they shared their story, as it’s a reminder that I’m not alone in this struggle. While my situation is on the more extreme side, I need to remember that there are so many people out there that are building their families in a way that they never imagined for themselves.

My grief surrounding the loss of the dream of having multiple kids is going to come in waves, and I’ve learned to accept that. I’m looking forward to this new chapter and focusing on the positive. Vacations are way cheaper and easier. I’ll be able to afford a new car when Thea starts kindergarten next year, and for the most part I am able to sleep through the night. That extra bedroom that was supposed to be for our second kid can now be turned into a craft and office space for yours truly, and I didn’t spend the past year being hooked up to a breast pump in the storage room at my office.

So if you see a bit of a wince from me when you show me an adorable baby picture, or a tiny pair of shoes, don’t feel bad. Know you are helping me process, and that I’m still working on embracing this idea of a family of three instead of four.

This post originally appeared on Living the High Life. It has been reprinted with permission.

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