We all have experiences in life that define us. Some joyful, some not so much, some a combination. For me, the journey to having our one, and only, child has shaped me into who I am today.
My husband and I tried for eight long years to have a baby. Eight agonizing years. Six inseminations, four surgeries, one miscarriage, four rounds of In Vitro and countless shots and drugs. Add to that mix some marital strife, a hefty dose of guilt and self-loathing and upwards of $50, 000 that we did not have squirreled away, all charged to credit cards. Meanwhile, our friends were having babies left and right. With my tunnel vision all I could see were pregnant women or new moms pushing their chubby, blush-faced, beautiful babies in their “of the moment” strollers. All of my life was supposed to lead up to this. This is what a young, seemingly healthy woman should be able to easily accomplish, right? My body had let me down. And it had let my husband and our families down, or so I thought. Now what was I supposed to do with the rest of my life?
But, guess what? That fourth and final round of In Vitro? The one we decided to “what the heck” try because we had three frozen embryos taking up storage space…the one that my miracle-worker doctor recommended that after a seemingly unsuccessful transfer on a Monday to come back for another transfer on a Wednesday…the one that took 30 minutes when it should have taken five…that was the ticket! That was all it took. Imagine that. Our family of two (plus two adorable fur kids) was about to grow to a family of three (plus two adorable fur kids.) Unreal. Amazing! All we ever said was that we would have been overjoyed to have had just one child.
I gave birth to an absolutely gorgeous and healthy baby girl. It felt like Christmas morning. We were in complete and utter awe. It worked! Fast forward through the postpartum depression and anxiety (to be discussed in a later post, yay!) to a gorgeous and healthy 6 year old. She was always so happy on her own. Always quite content to play by herself; like she was born to be an only child. Just recently she has begun asking for a sibling to play with, to teach and to love. My husband and I declined birth control, we said we would see what happened. No emotional room left for more IVF (or financial room, for that matter). Yet, no more pregnancies to date, with my stage iv endometriosis the likely culprit.
So, back to my title question: Is one a lonely number for a child…or for mom and dad? Well, we are choosing to find the silver linings. A wonderful friend of mine who is an only child said to me “Think of it this way: it is quality over quantity.” And boy, did we get quality. I always joke that this is what we get for all the money spent! Those silver linings abound, I have the spare time every day to be in wonder of this girl. We are forming a wonderful friendship, we can travel, spend a bit more money on her and ourselves (sounds a bit shallow, I know). After all of the heartache we went through to have this miracle, we now have the capacity to embrace every moment of joy with her. Aaaand the not so great moments; she is still a kid, you know?? I will sometimes catch a glimpse of her and have that Christmas morning feeling all over again. How did we get so lucky? Did this really happen or am I dreaming?
My husband and I are blessed with loving families and wonderful friends who feel like family. We will surround her with those who love her. We will do what we can to make her number of one not feel lonely. I always thought one of the main reasons I wanted a child was to have someone there for us when we are old, to carry on our family. But, there are no guarantees in life. Some children do not outlive their parents. Some children choose to separate themselves from their families. When it comes down to it, all of our numbers are one. We, alone, live our lives, start to finish.
We consider ourselves as some of the lucky ones. Others who have endured the pain of infertility have no reward at the end. They have to live and cope with that emptiness. They have to find something to fill that hole. We have one child and that is absolutely not the loneliest number.
Not by a long shot.