In today’s post, Molly Volker shares the final part of her story of learning that her child, Nora, would be born with severe health issues, of life with Nora, experiencing the death of her child, and life afterwards. I encourage you to read Part I, Part II, and Part III.
Molly means bitter. It suited me well after Nora went home to God. Every glowing young mother or expectant mother I encountered left me feeling empty. Women who would complain about little things like not knowing how to clip their baby’s finger nails or being tired because they had been up all night left me feeling angry. They had no idea how lucky they were. I would give anything to tackle such trite issues with my own dear child, if only she were here. As time went on, I grew more and more angry and bitter, as well as judgmental and resentful of something I used to treasure, new life and motherhood.
Late at night I was driving home from a work trip and I sobbed the whole drive. I begged Nora to show me the way out of my state of misery. I thought I would pour myself into work and not have more children. I would heroically sacrifice having more children to bring Nora’s story to life. I would work non-stop to memorialize her somehow. I would use my grief as a catalyst to some wonderful cause. I made my mind up, we would have no more kids and work would be my focus and future.
The next morning I realized something was a little off, so I took a pregnancy test. All my well laid plans blew away as fast as they came with that second pink little line. I won’t glamorize it, I let out an expletive. This was NOT my plan. I was NOT ready for this. I did NOT want this. Thinking about it, I was scratching my head trying to figure out how such a thing could have even happened. Our two girls had been very carefully planned, how could this have happened? Well I knew how, but I wasn’t thrilled.
My husband on the other hand, could not have been more excited. It only took one day and I was excited too. New life, a new member of our family, was going to bless us yet again. Now when I saw glowing women with beautiful growing bumps I smiled. We shared a blessed secret knowing that only we women who are so blessed to carry children know. I was back! My bitterness vanished and I was my open, loving self yet again.
The pregnancy was challenging. In my grief I grew huge and my hormones got off balance and the baby grew huge along with me. Labor was hard, after 45 minutes of unproductive pushing I told all the medical personnel to be quiet (I wish I had been more polite). I closed my eyes and went deep inside myself, my maternal instinct drawing on the long history of buried wisdom we have as women built into our DNA. All was quiet and he slipped out gently into this world. The doctor was amazed and wisely told me to remember this moment for the rest of my life. And that is how I learned we hold the answers to most things; they are deep within us in the quiet and stillness. Andrew continued to be challenging as a baby and still is as a four year old but he is also beautiful, tender, and whip smart. I adore my first boy and I am grateful for his pulling me out of my lonely hole of bitterness and teaching me one of my life’s most valuable lessons.
Two and half years later our second son, Henry, was born. Nora attended his birth and continues to watch over us. I had a most sacred vision of her as a young adult. Henry is such a joy. Our family is lively and thriving in that crazy state of chaos and exhaustion many young families know. I treasure this time. I treasure these children. Someday in the future my house will be clean, we will have disposable money, and the house will be still, but now I am relishing this time. These children of mine are refining me, teaching me, blessing me. I savor it.
Do you remember your middle school or high school reproductive health class? When I think back to my education about periods and “How babies are made” my memories are brief. I can remember short parts of videos or awkward condom demonstrations and disgusting pictures of STDs. Does this sound familiar to you?