Tuesday, December 8, 2009

And I said, "No."

It snuck up on me this year. I have been so busy with kids and home, Thanksgiving, birthday, Christmas, and anniversary shopping. Laundry, floors, blah, blah, blah. In short, life, which is a little ironic since this post is about death. I call it the December 10th Family Curse. I'm sure it's not actually a curse, but I don't know how else to explain it.

Thirty-three years ago, my mother was 9 weeks pregnant with her third baby. I wasn't around then so I don't know the exact circumstances, but she miscarried that baby on December 10, 1976. The doctor told her she should try to get pregnant again right away so she wouldn't feel such a sense of loss. My father told her to stop crying about it. After all, it wasn't even a real baby yet. Sixteen months later she had me, but the fact that I know this story proves that getting pregnant again right away did little to erase the pain and memory of the baby who didn't make it.

Thirteen years ago, my brother and his girlfriend were expecting a baby. It was an "accident" that no one was really very excited about. It's funny how feelings change with circumstances because on December 10, 1996, she miscarried as well. That day she entered into the same club as my mother. The one where everyone knows this terrible thing has happened, but no one talks about it. Her heart broke silently as the world went on, and life screamed by.

You might chalk this up to coincidence, but it is more than that. On December 10, 1997, I went in for emergency gall bladder surgery. The nurses asked me all the right questions, but with my mom in the room, I lied. I had heard all my life about my mom's first baby, my brother, being born when she was 19, unmarried, and alone. She always hoped I would learn from her mistakes, that I would make a better life for myself. On December 10, 1997, at 19, unmarried, and alone, I underwent gall bladder surgery, and miscarried my baby that no one knew about but me.

Long after the scars from surgery were healed, the pain from the baby I never saw throbbed. The guilt of the one word lie nearly overtook me. Wasn't this what I wanted? An easy solution to a very hard situation? If I had said "yes" would things have turned out differently? Would that have been better? Life went on, and so did I, but I never stopped thinking, and wondering, and questioning. Would it have had my hair? Its daddy's big brown eyes? The Ridenour nose? It's not the raw, shocking pain it used to be, but there is a tiny corner of my heart tucked away for this little person I never got to know. On December 10th, I let myself grieve a little, for that's the day that changed my life forever.

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