Some Far-Reaching Thoughts on Fertility, Etc.

Miscarriage is a phenomenon in my mind. Not because in some instances, like Ethan’s, we will probably never know why it happened, in medical terms at least. Rather, because until it happens to you—or you happen upon this blog—you don’t realize that you know someone who’s suffered through it.

 

The reality is that fifteen to twenty percent of pregnancies end in miscarriage. That means that everyone knows someone—whether it’s a mother, sister, aunt, grandmother, or friend; whether she wants to talk about it or not; however she’s dealt with the grief—who’s been there. This is not to say that this kind of loss only affects women, either. When John told his colleagues what happened, two of his male coworkers immediately responded that their families either were or recently had been working through their own miscarriages.

 

Through being open about our experience, and primarily through this blog, I learned of four women, a degree or two away from me, who had experienced miscarriage within six months of our losing Ethan. Among them, a friend, a former roommate, a friends’ sister, another friends’ sister-in-law. Every baby lost at a different stage; every woman and family handling the grief in their own way.

 

Would you like to know something beautiful?

 

All four of those women are expecting again, and are currently in their third trimesters. Hearing news of them, one by one, is like blessings heaped on top of blessings. Thank God for His mercy and grace. Thank God for these children, who are being welcomed into families who love them so desperately already.

 

And then, there are other women in my life, for whom my hearts breaks in a different way. They are women who, not because they don’t want to, and not because they haven’t found and committed themselves to good, decent men, physically cannot have children. I think of the two months between losing Ethan and finding out I was pregnant with Henry, when I didn’t know that I’d ever carry another baby to term. I can imagine only a slice of the pain that comes with that path. I am a firm believer in God’s will, that He knows better than we. At the same time, it can feel colossally unfair that some who can have children don’t want them, and others who want them, can’t have them.

 

Every night I feel Henry kick and realize it is hands down, the greatest feeling I have ever experienced. While with Jacob I thought I was stuck in the movie Aliens, this time I am aware of how beautiful carrying a new life is. It hurts sometimes, and it will hurt a whole lot more later, but that pain really is a labor of love.

 

I don’t write this to make those of us who have or haven’t yet had children feel guilty. There is nothing life-giving in that. My point today is that whether it’s through biological children or not, we—men and women alike—each have a way of adding to the love and the goodness in the world, in our workplaces, in our friendships, in our homes.

 

For some of us, it is in the tender nursing of an infant. For others, it is showing adopted children that they are loved for who they are, every day, all the time, indefinitely. For still others, it is creating something of beauty to share with others, helping an organization run smoothly, or simply being generous to those whose paths cross ours.

 

Children—really, all people—are great cause for hope. We don’t know when, why, or how we will be challenged, but, parents or not, we have good reason to persevere: because someone went before us and did the same, and because there is a whole lot worth living for in this life.

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