What Could Have Been

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family-of-five Image via Shutterstock

It can hit you at the weirdest times. It just does. And when it does… it gives you an emotional chill like a shadow from your past.

I was driving my wife to work today as we often do in the morning and it hit me just then. She was going through Facebook scrolling by a picture of some old friends with their kids. I asked her, “don’t they have four kids now?” They do.

And it hit me. We could, too. Or could have. But don’t.

We’ve come such a long way… many years and thousands of miles from a phone call to my work one night. Something was wrong. My wife knew it. Through her tears she asked me to come get her. I left work right away. I found her in a stall in the women’s room at Boston University where she worked… crying.. her clothes soaked through with blood. I took her to the doctor but by then she knew… we knew… how could you not know… she had suffered a miscarriage.. what would have been our first baby as a newly married couple. Of course, my wife was physically OK and that was most important. We were assured we could try again at some point when the time was right. That was important too. In the meantime, we went home for a couple of days and hid ourselves in takeout and movies and self-pity. We told the few family members who already knew she was pregnant. But let’s face it.. There’s not a whole lot someone can say or do to make you feel any better. And all the good will can’t replace the fact that you were already secretly picking baby names and nursery colors and getting excited to be new parents. You compartmentalize that chapter of your life like an old photo in an album that you tuck away on a shelf and only glance at once in a long while.

Time passed. We went on to have a beautiful daughter Alicia.

We’d go on to have another miscarriage, too. By that time we felt like old pros at it. This time my wife was right in the doctor’s office at her pregnancy exam when the doctor informed her she was miscarrying. It didn’t make it any easier. We went home. We hardly told anyone. This time, we poured ourselves into caring for our young girl at home that we already had. And again we compartmentalized that chapter of our life like an old photo in an album that we tucked away on a shelf and only glance at once in a long while.

Time passed again. We went on to have another beautiful daughter Andreya.

We chose not to try for more children. Out of four pregnancies, two ended in miscarriage. I feel blessed to have two healthy kids. Why test the percentages again? Sure once in a while the thought of another baby creeps in… the idea of raising a new baby and having that excitement back in the family. For us, the time has passed. But yes I still think about it… sometimes… at the weirdest times… that our family might have been bigger… could have been bigger… but isn’t. And I know there are so many other couples just like us. This is my subtle nod to them.. we’ve been there too. I’m not going to tell you how to feel. I just want you to know you’re not alone. You’re not. Today I flipped through that old photo album in my mind and was taken right back there.

I dropped my wife off at work and returned home to make breakfast with the kids as one danced around with her panda stuffed animal… And the other drew one of her fantastic drawings. They really are the most incredible kids. Yes I still think about it… sometimes… at the weirdest times… that our family might have been bigger… could have been bigger… but isn’t.

It’s always going to be a page in that old photo album of our lives together. But my family is perfect the way it is and that’s just fine with me.

Related post: The Invisible Moms’ Club

Comments

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  1. 6

    Kate says

    We had a miscarriage before having our daughter and I have had all of these feelings. Once in a while I think about having another, but to be honest I’m frightened by the thought of another loss and how painful that is and how we just wouldn’t have the time to grieve like we did the first time.

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    • 7

      Kylie says

      Me too. I lost two before my daughter was born. My doctor even confirmed that I am very mc prone. I’m so afraid of getting pregnant again. But I know I’m going to have to because we really want her to have a sibling. I don’t know if I can take another loss:(

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  2. 8

    Kathea says

    Beautifully stated. Out of five pregnancies, four were miscarriages. It took going to a fertility doc to get #5 to work and he will be our only son. But each miscarriage created a photo album of what might have been. I don’t look at it often but it sits heavy on the shelf.

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    • 9

      Katy says

      I had 3 miscarriages out of 4 pregnancies. I was finally blessed with my twins after 7 years of infertility treatments (10 rounds). It’s something that stays with you forever.

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  3. 18

    says

    It’s hard sometimes when the “might have been” thoughts hit. I’m blessed with two amazing daughters, and my youngest wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t miscarried before becoming pregnant with her, but I still wonder about the baby we lost. Was it a son or a daughter? What would s/he have been like? I love my family as it is, but I would have also loved how it could have been.

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  4. 19

    Marta says

    That is beautiful… We also wanted four kids, 2 healthy kids later and 2 very rough miscarriages and 1 early miscarriage, I don’t want another one in the album to think about. It’s hard enough with the ones I had. Another miscarriage is not something I would ever want to go through again. I’m happy, we r happy. Time to close that chapter of my life.

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  5. 20

    says

    I can not thank you Enough for this. I lost 3 pregnancies and I don’t have any kids yet. I would love to have kids of my own, I dream all the time about how it will be when I get my own (if I ever do) but that dark cloud, the fear of it happening again is always there. And all the three times it got just harder after the other

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    • 21

      says

      i had 5 miscarriages (4 early but one at 17 weeks and two the doc had to go get out with a surgery) before I was bless with
      3 beautifull angels within 4 years. Thanks to one great and caring doctor who foundnwhat was wrong. It was hard but we consider ourselfs extremely lucky and we are trying for no. 4. :0). miracles do happen but sometimes we need medical help, dont hesitate to ask asap.

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  6. 23

    Kathryn says

    We hear about the “other side” of miscarriage (the partner’s) too rarely. My husband thought he couldn’t be sad in front of me, that if he expressed his feelings about it, it would make me too upset. As a result I saw that he was being supportive but ultimately felt he didn’t really care or feel loss.
    It’s wonderful to hear a husband expressing his feeling of grief (and how they never really go away). More men should feel ok with showing this side of loss. Thank you.

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    • 24

      John says

      It’s so very hard and painful. We feel we have to be supportive, be strong, the bedrock for her when we ourselves are a mess internally about this. After all, we didn’t just feel that life pass from us, we feel guilty trying to express our pain, thinking it cannot compare to her pain. We internalize, and it may come across as not caring as much, but we know we have to be strong at that time for her and the rest of the family.

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  7. 26

    says

    Twas the same for us. 2 perfect babies, 2 miscarriages. The 1st was done pretty fast. . wasnt even 7 wks. . but my heart broke for ages. the 2nd- i was a fanatic about hcg levels. . finally saw a heart beat. . just about the time i relaxed and ppl were saying hey! u are starting to show a bit! 4 pregnancies. . only 1 ob appt i went alone. . the one where our baby had been dead nearly 2 wks. . and the blasted dr let me go on carrying thru Thanksgiving week. Tears & turkey dinner. My husband faithfully picks out & plants butterfly and hummingbird plants each yr for our memorial garden.

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  8. 28

    says

    This hit home with me… Same as my situation. I just suffered a horrible second miscarriage that could have taken my life. I’m living for the two kids that I have rather than the ones I don’t. It sucks, but I have closed the reproduction chapter of my life and I’m moving on to the chapter of being happy with the kids that I have been blessed with. In heaven one day, I will have all my children.

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