"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in."

-- Robert Frost

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


I think every day when I look at our girl, how nearly she almost wasn't.  

There's an emotional version tucked away in a pen and paper journal in my top dresser drawer but here’s the once upon a time of it, minus the emotional flood in the moments.

At begins with a routine visit to a doctor and a sheepish revelation that we wanted yet another baby. (Let’s face it, when you already have five, they do start to look at you like you’re irresponsibly keeping them in business.)  A routine exam.  A not so routine call the next morning.  An outpatient surgery.  Another exam.  Another unhappy phone call.  Another surgery and a question.  Can we still have another baby?

When that first stick answered yes, I saw the end from the beginning.  What mother doesn’t?

Then the loss and the tears as my husband put his arm around me with quiet reassurances that he didn’t feel our family complete either. 

And we waited.

When that next stick said yes, I was excited but cautious.  I think I was realizing how for granted I'd taken five easy pregnancies and births.

Losing that first gave cause for routine ultrasounds with the second.  I watched heart grow to head, fingers and toes bloom, kicking feet and thumbs to mouths.   At a routine ultrasound, I prattled on about mindless nonsense until my senses told me everyone in the room had stopped moving.  That whirring motor of a heartbeat whirred no longer.

The rest is a sickening daze.  One, I think every mother who has experienced, never quite forgets or fully overcomes.

Politely downcast eyes from exit secretaries who were joyful greeters on entry.  Hospital preparations feeling too familiar to ones with happy endings.  Quiet, dark nights of healing without a bedside bassinet to ease the pains.

This time, we decided it might be time to close the books after all.  Perhaps our feelings of not being complete meant we had this trial to face.  Perhaps post-surgery, I'd not be able to carry to term after all. I had five beautiful, healthy children.  Each a bigger miracle than I'd ever expected before I'd stared life's fragility full in the face.  Time to let it go.  Time to move on.

So … when surprise stick number three said yes, I was fearful.  I closed off without expectations.  One pregnancy problem after another presented and I braced myself for the worst.  When it all hit home that this was in reality, going to happen, I started taking things in stride.  And then my stride was a little too fast and she decided not to hold on for the ride.

It wasn’t the kind of birthday where everyone gathers around with smiles and excitement that today a mother is going to get to hold her baby.  It was a dark night with subdued lights and hushed voices and furrowed brows.

When I heard her cry, a loud healthy cry, I joined her like we’d both been pushed through the roughest moment of our lives  …  so far.  She was good.  Tiny but good.

Every day that I look into her warm and welcome smile, I think how close we came to living a life without her.  It wouldn't have been the same.  Not every mother has her happy ending, of that I'm fully aware.  She's healed the wounds of past hurts and yet, every day as I watch her it hurts to know that she is my ending.  If only those faltering steps would last, those chubby fingers, that easy laughter.  But that ache in my heart for another is frozen by the fear of all that can go awry.

On this anniversary of her birth, I'm so grateful she was sent to us.  To be ours for awhile.  To bring light to our home.  And to teach us the value of life.


  1. I have been in your shoes and can so understand many of the feelings you described. We got strange looks on about child number 4! Our loss really pointed out the fragility of life....and what a true gift the opportunity to be parents really is. I too know that sense of feeling that we are not all here yet - and realizing that it doesn't make sense...to most people in this world! I am so happy that you got your little Eliza! She is a beautiful blessing to you and your family!

  2. I was having a perfectly happy, humming, mindless Saturday morning and now I have a giant lump in my throat to carry around with me. Thanks. Must go find chocolate...

    Your loving sister and avid fan,

  3. Once again you have expressed my own feelings so perfectly Marlowe. To live experiences like this is to fully appreciate the gift and miracle of life! Happy 'anniversary' to you all!!


  4. Wow, do I win the award for most insensitive comment or what? I have thought about you all weekend now and wanted to come back and tell you how brave I think you are for sharing this story.

    I want to thank you, also, for the extra moment I spent this evening standing at the door of each of my children's rooms after they were asleep, treasuring the sound of their breathing. I twisted a sweaty-wet curl around my finger and thought of your pretty baby girl and what a miracle each of them are. Thank you for reminding me of that.

    Kiss that baby girl for me (and those are still my curls)