“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” E. M. Forster
Not long after my third child died, who I lovingly named Peanut, I was ready to be done with the whole pregnancy scenario. I was tired, depleted…could barely even form a coherent thought anymore. But there was a snag in my desire to throw in the towel. You see, I had a four-year-old in my life, and he wanted to keep trying.
“When are you going to tell me about the others?” he said to me one day.
We were on our way home from the grocery store, Julian buckled up in the backseat. “The others?” I asked, meeting his eyes in the rearview mirror.
“Yeah. The other kids you had.”
It was a bright and sunny day–thank God for that. At least that way, I was able to hide behind the tint of the sunglasses I had on. “You’re talking about Gabriel…” I hesitated, “and, Boo and Peanut, too?”
“Yes. Those are the ones,” he replied, matter-of-factly.
I inhaled sharply, my chest immediately tight and constricted. “What would you like to know?” I finally asked.
“Well, what you did with them, I guess.”
“What I did with them?” I repeated, wondering what he’d drummed up in his mind. “Honey…they all died, sweetheart. Each one of them lived for a short time in Mommy’s tummy, but for some reason they came too early, and because they were too early…”...how do I say this?…“they each died and went to Heaven. Their bodies just weren’t ready to be born yet, not into our world. Sometimes things like that just happen and, well, no one really understands why.”
He sat thinking for a moment, processing what I’d just said. “So, those guys are gone, and it’s really sad that they’re gone, but maybe it will be alright. Right, Mama?”
My vision began to blur, tears threatening to escape. “Of course, it will be alright, Julian. I have you, and you are all that I need.”
But he grew quiet. Too quiet.
“How are you feeling about what Mommy just said?” I had to ask. “Would you like to keep talking about it for a while?”
Julian met my gaze–my sunglassed gaze–in the rearview mirror. “Well,” he started, “what’s wrong with you? Why do all of your babies die? Because I saw a show on TV the other day. The one I wasn’t supposed to see. Remember? You told me to leave the room.”
“I remember,” I mumbled.
“And, it looks like all you need to do to have a baby is to have a special table,” he continued, with a rush. “First, you lie down on the table, then the mommy pushes really hard, and the baby comes out! And afterwards, the mommy cries and cries until the daddy comes in and says, ‘Awww, come here pretty baby.’ And that’s what happens, Mom! I saw it on that show! So don’t you just need to get a special table? And then your babies will all live?”
I pulled over to the side of the road, tears finally loose, cascading down my cheeks. “It’s not the table, Julian. How I wish it was that easy, to just get a magic table, and then, ‘poof’…the baby’s out. In Mommy’s case it’s just, I don’t know…fate, I guess. But I’m still trying, sweetheart. I’m trying so hard to give you a baby brother or sister.”
He brightened suddenly. I must have said the right thing.
“Yes!” he exclaimed. “And me and Daddy are gonna help you! We’re going to work really hard to make sure that you don’t lose another baby!” He looked out of his window, smiling, as I pulled back onto the road.
And moments later, under his breath, I heard him say…”we just need to go find us one of those tables. Me and Daddy…we’ll find us a table.”
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