Balancing Aunthood, Grieving Motherhood, with a Side of Infertility

March 10, 2018

By Sanda Rathamone



"When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I." - Psalm 61:2
It has been a month now, since that last disappointment. I didn’t even get to take a pregnancy test that time. Aunt Flo decided to show up unannounced and just when we were so full of hope, thinking that maybe we ran into a sign.

It was nothing, but false hope. 

I could hear my husband shouting (but not loud enough), “He lied!” 

“He” as in the man who said, “You guys are having a baby, huh?” 

At the end of my last blog post, I mentioned how I just got on my period on the very same day as Jazmine’s, my husband’s niece, first birthday. She had just turned one. If Elijah was here, he would have been a year and three months old on Jazmine’s birthday. 

Elijah would have been three months older than Jazmine... 

It's crazy to see myself bond with Jazmine now.

The first few months of her life were the most painful for me, more painful than when my sister-in-law announced her pregnancy just two months after losing Elijah. More heartbreaking than the baby shower that I did not have the courage or comfort to attend. Even more painful than the day we visited her in the hospital and seeing my husband holding her for the very first time.

The first few months of Jazmine's life was spent at home - where I lived, too.

Living with the in-laws was by choice, yet, our bedroom was where I felt safest. Our bedroom holds all of the love and pain and hope and joy of our union and the magical creation of our first child.

After loss, all I had wanted was rest.

Rest from trauma, rest from heartache, rest from emptiness, desperation, exhaustion, tears, begging and crying out to God:

"Why me?" 

"Why her?" 

"Why this? 

I remember having dreams about Jazmine the day before I decided I would hold her. There was a dream of my husband and I leaving or moving to somewhere. He wanted to say goodbye to Jazmine, but I could not. He wanted me to. I tried so hard to focus on finishing the dishes, but all I could do was muster a farewell as quickly as possible. It wasn't that I didn't want to, it was just that I found it hard to face her. I was still grieving.

Strange though that I still do have a fear, a hesitancy to say goodbye to her before I leave the house (in real life).

I think it's because if I say goodbye to her that it would mean that she means a lot to me, the same way that Elijah does. Perhaps, I just find it difficult to admit that she makes me vulnerable. A part of me does not want to care for her more than I would for Elijah. The love that I had wanted and needed to share with Elijah is far too precious to give away.

That kind of love is forever reserved for a child of my own. 

Yet, here I am, thinking of what toys she would love and planning future art projects with her...

There was another dream that had different scenes, but had the same message. My sister-in-law would always be in some kind of need for someone to take care of Jazmine and for some reason, she trusted me to or that I was somehow the only person who was left to watch after her.

I kept these dreams a secret from my husband because at those times, I wasn't ready to face Jazmine. I wasn't ready to accept these dreams about her. And I denied and repressed them as much as I could.

It wasn't until I had a dream of Elijah and Jazmine that struck me. Two babies, one bigger/older than the other, both facing each other, communicating. Not necessarily talking, but reading each other's minds, like a telepathic conversation. Even though I couldn't hear what they were saying, it made me wonder that even as a baby, did Jazmine know about Elijah?

I often wonder and imagine that Elijah lovingly nudges me to bond with her and that Jazmine knows about my grief and tries to reach out to me with her curiosity and interest in me.

It took six months for me to hold Jazmine for the first time and just recently to call her my niece. When I notice children at work, I would say something like, "Oh, my niece is around his/her same age and she's crazy about exploring and touching things, too!"

As she continues to gain new abilities and learn new things, it makes me excited and joyful and amazed, as if witnessing her rapid growth is now a part of my life and something I am proud of. Yet, it brings a hint of sorrow for myself and Elijah.

I never got to see Elijah in that same light. I never had the chance to witness his every mark and milestone. It makes me miss him even more. It makes me want to turn to God and ask him again and again, "When will it be me?" 

When will I see my child running to me in the way Jazmine runs to her mother?...

Just the other day, Jazmine was sitting in between my lap watching Peppa Pig on the iPad. She moved her head and laid it on my left arm, while still watching her cartoon, with my husband feeding her grains of farro. She seemed to be enjoying herself, quiet and relaxed.

We all - including my father-in-law - thought it was adorable that she was so comfortable with me that she would lay on me in that way, as if she loved me. It was one of those "first things" that you could never forget.

I could see the awe in my husband's eyes.

After Jazmine was picked up and went home, my husband says something like, "We should have a baby so that it could lay on you like that."

I brushed him off.

Just a couple months ago, I had heard those heart shattering words, "I'm not ready." That is why I wasn't sure a month ago, on my period, did he really mean what he had said. Was he really "sorry" that I had happened to get my period the day after such hope?

Was he really disappointed as much as I was? 

Was he really in pain as much as I was? 

Did a period affect him the same way it did me? 

Did it make him cringe and curse the world like it does me?

Did he really want a baby as much as I did? 

Honestly, I have felt so alone and silenced with infertility for years... 

It seems that while I struggle to find the balance and acceptance of being barren (hoping temporarily...I don't know...), Jazmine always finds a way to bring happiness back into my heart.

Yesterday, after we got home from work and grocery shopping, we walked up the stairs to see Jazmine at the baby gate. It was as if she knew we were home and was waiting there.

My husband greets her, happily says hi.

As the last person, I had to close the gate. To close it, I had to put down the bags, but then Jazmine starts to move towards my legs and makes these sounds like she wanted me to carry her.

I said, "I have to close the gate! You have to wait!"

But she wouldn't budge! She held onto my legs!

I could hear my mother-in-law nearby, laughing in her room because Jazmine wouldn't let me go anywhere, unless I picked her up. This reminded me of the one time I was in the kitchen, washing dishes and my mother-in-law was chasing after Jazmine and somehow she got into the space between my legs and the sink cabinet, as if she was trying to hide from her grandma.

Anyway, since I was unable to close the baby gate, I picked her up and like she always does, she points to our bedroom and wants to go in there.

Is it strange of me to know that her favorite things to do in our bedroom is looking at herself in the closet mirror, touch things on our bookshelf (especially my mug with pens), try to turn on the bedside lamp, look and try to touch things on Elijah's wall, chew and try to take off the bracelet on Elijah's bear, and most of all, jump, cuddle, kiss, and squeal at the huge 3 feet tall, fluffy teddy bear that my husband got for me on Valentines day years ago.

Another new favorite is her opening and digging into my makeup drawers and trying to reach for my jewelry box.

Although, the one corner that appeals to her the most is our bookshelf, full of books and trinkets and things, and at the very top, has Elijah's memory boxes, his emptied urn, and his photo. There is never a day that she isn't curious to know what's on the shelf or her little finger pointing in the shelf's direction.

Her little finger...

Her little hand grabs my hand and tries to move it into the direction of where she wants to go because she hasn't yet learned how to say with words, "Auntie, I want to go here. Auntie, I want to see this. Auntie, can you do this for me?"

I am waiting to hear her say:

"Auntie, it's okay. Don't be sad."

"Auntie, Elijah is here and he loves you." 

"Auntie, there is a baby in your tummy." 

"Auntie, I love you." 

And then, I will be able to say, "Thank you for everything. I love you, too, Jazmine." 

"You are after all, a blessing in disguise."

Before Jazmine went home yesterday, my husband says, "You will make a good mom."

I said, "No, I wouldn't."

Paused.

"I don't have the money." 

That was one of the reasons why he said he wasn't ready anyway...

I checked out after that. I didn't want to hear his reply to my response. I didn't want to hear any of his compliments about my tenderness with Jazmine. I didn't want to hear any of his oohs and awes of what I could do with Jazmine or his hints of another baby.

It still hurts.

And I could still hear those words.

That is why I often keep the insane desperation, yearning, and wishing for a baby silent at home and loudly among the women who crave and pray for their babies.

The next mountain to climb will be my husband's cousin's baby shower in April. I know that the boldness of that mountain will not compare to pregnancy announcements of fellow loss moms here and there, reminding me that my struggle never needs to be alone.

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 Read the full story about Elijah:
Elijah's Story: From Gender Reveal To A Spontaneous Delivery

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