For as long as I can really remember, I wanted four children. As a child myself, I used to plan how I’d have two boys and two girls (my prepubescent self had settled on two sets of twins. Perhaps, even then, I understood what a ballache pregnancy is). Number one entered my equation far earlier than I’d truly anticipated. I had thought that there’d be marriage first. Or at least a few dates. Certainly, finding out I was pregnant, five weeks into a new raletionship was slightly brow raising for both of us. But we went with it and once we had one, we figured we might as well keep going. We both knew we wanted more and what was the point in waiting, now that we had already started our family?
Number two was a honeymoon baby. I wanted to “do it right” this time, so I dragged him down the aisle, a mere four months after finding the ring that he’d hidden inside a game of Mousetrap. He arrived nine months later. Easy. According to plan. We discussed a third early on. We were in agreement (for once) that we both wanted another and that we wanted one soon. So I stopped breastfeeding when Ralph was 6 months old and we started trying straight away. Number 3 was due not long after our 2nd wedding anniversay. Until we lost it. So we tried again. We waited the obligatory one cycle and were excited to discover that we’d be welcoming a third around Daisy’s 3rd birthday. Until we lost that one too. 13 weeks this time. Missed. Devastating. We decided to take a little break after that one. An abnormal smear gave us little choice. By the summer, we were expecting again. There was no excitement this time. It made it easier when, a couple of months later, I was diagnosed with a molar pregnancy. Another loss. Another heartbreak.
On the first day of 2016, we got another positive test. Neither of us smiled this time. Neither of us rejoiced. By this point, I think the spouse had accepted that we’d be a family of four and, for him, that was ok. He only continued to try because, with each loss, my desperation grew. I almost wanted the doctors to tell me it wasn’t possible, to give me a medical excuse as to why I’d have to remain a Mother of two. Just so i coud stop putting myself through this. But the only answer they could ever give me was, “bad luck”. So we kept trying. And 2016 brought with it, a healthy pregnancy. Nine long months of fear, anxiety and an abject reluctance to get my hopes up. No inclination to prepare, or buy things, or even think too much about what was growing inside me; until one afternoon in late October, my rainbow son was suddeny in my arms. Real. Alive. And worth every single second of what came before.
So now, I’m left thinking about that fourth child I always dreamt I’d have. When I was pregnant with Rufus, even for a short while after I’d had him, I was done. We were lucky to have the three of them. A fourth is out of the question. But I don’t feel finished. I don’t feel like we’re complete because this isn’t quite what I’d envisaged. I know that there’s space in the puzzle for another piece. I know that four would be faultless. But I know that I could never survive that heartbreak again. I know that this isn’t just about me. I know that I can’t lose myself in grief for years because it will break my children and it will break my marriage. So how do we decide the impossible? How do we work out if it’s worth the risk to even try? Can I live with the “what ifs”? Can I live with the devastation of another loss?
My trio are everything. With them, life will always be perfect. But will the shadow of number four fade and disappear with time? Or will it always leave me wondering if we should have taken that chance?