I had not felt awesome in weeks. I was exhausted beyond exhaustion. I was moodier than normal. My boobs were a little sore every time my kids bumped into me. And, man, was I bloated. Every rational part of me knew that it was the new generic birth control that the pharmacy had given me around the same time that the symptoms started. But another part of me wondered … what if?
Now, my husband and I had gone back and forth for years about whether or not to have a third child. Could we afford it and still take vacations, plan for our kids’ futures, pay for all the extracurricular activities, save, etc.? Would we able to spend enough time with each kid? Would anyone still be willing to babysit for us when we needed a break? Would we ever sleep again? Also, could I keep any semblance of my sanity if we had a third child? (In all honesty, I lost that when we had the second child. So, the question really was less about if I could keep my sanity and more about how much could I lose before being committed).
Anyway, after numerous go-arounds, we each realized that if this was something we really wanted, we could probably make it work. After all, there is no perfect time to have a child, but somehow everything works itself out once you do. But, we could not seem to come to this conclusion at the same point in time. For years, when I was ready to have another baby, he was not. And when he was finally ready, I was not. Something seemed to be holding us back from getting on the same page, and it came down to the fact that although we both wanted all of the blessings that would come with another child, we also did not want all of the work and sacrifices that would accompany it. So, in the end, we decided that a third child was probably not in the cards for us.
Although we were both a little sad that our family growing would end there, there was also something freeing in our decision. We cleaned out the attic, the basement, and the closets. We gave away most of our infant possessions. We allowed ourselves to picture a world in which there were no more diapers, baby gates, and over-sized car seats. We even booked our first out-of-the-country beach vacation with our children who we felt were finally old enough to enjoy such a luxury (or at least allow us to enjoy it a little).
So, while every rational part of me knew that we had made the decision that was right for us, and that we were not going to have another baby, there was yet another insane part of me that couldn’t help but wonder …. What if? What if God, or the universe, or some other supreme force recognized that we were making the wrong decision and was using this pharmacy error as a way to correct it? To give us the baby we were meant to have?
Once this idea entered my mind, there was no escaping it. I even started googling “early pregnancy signs” despite already knowing what they were and taking online “are you pregnant” quizzes because surely that is the most accurate way to confirm a pregnancy. Within minutes, I was picturing myself wearing maternity dresses, making a Facebook announcement, planning a gender reveal party, and shopping for all the infant items we had just given away. A wave of “it does not matter what logic/quizzes/disposable pregnancy tests say, I am having this baby!” swept over me.
Fast forward one week, and I am not pregnant. I never was … except in my mind. And while my brain may know that adding to our family is not right for us, my heart still longs for the baby that never was. In fact, a small part of me may always grieve the baby that could have been, while, at the same time, being infinitely grateful for those that are.