You Can’t Go Back

During my first pregnancy, Dutch and I bought our first house. Built in WWII, our tiny Sugarhouse bungalow sat beneath the old, large leafy trees that reached up and over Hartford Street to touch in the center.

Our first Sunday at church, I noticed a dainty little girl with physical differences holding her mother’s hand in the chapel. Her name was Chelsea and her mom’s, Karen.  They would become my dear friends over the next few years and teach me a whole lot about acceptance, devotion, and strength.

“When one decides to have a baby, one has to be ready for every possibility,” said a voice in my head that first day at church.

I wondered if my first baby would be different. When he wasn’t, I believed it was because I had done a wonderful job of being pregnant, thus growing a perfectly lovely person in my womb. Parenting, while not necessarily easy, still felt like something I had control over.

I was so green.

The year before we moved to Hartford Street, we lived in Cache Valley in our little white clapboard rental house on a quiet corner near USU’s campus. We were students and life felt busy, but in hindsight it was just completely, luxuriously unpopulated by children.

While we lived in Logan, my visiting teaching partner lost her first pregnancy at twenty-two weeks due to the horribly-named (and just plain horrible) condition called incompetent cervix. The loss of her baby girl stunned me. She was the first pregnant friend I’d had. We had talked about baby names and morning sickness. I was quietly preparing myself for the day when Dutch and I could start our own family.

I took her flowers and homemade calzones. Then I went on a walk around the park, where I considered that my friend had been planning for her daughter’s birth, but instead she was now preparing for her burial service.

There I stood on the cusp of finishing graduate school, ready to embark on the child-raising leg of my adult life. As I rounded the park, the voice in my head said, “Being a parent has no guarantees, but plenty of surprises. Remember this.”

A cold sense of awareness blew through me, a premonition maybe.

Parenthood was a vast, rocky frontier. It scared me. I was going to do it anyway.

Now I’m entrenched in parenting, yet I still sometimes walk through my house and wonder where all these giant man-children came from and why they are eating so much food.

At this point in my life, when I see pregnant people I can’t help but think about all the ways their unborn babies could be affected by physical, mental, and behavioral differences. It’s jaded, I realize this. But from my family’s experience, how could I not see such possibilities?

I also get that most babies are healthy and typical, that not all children are dramatically affected by disabilities.

Some are, though.

I know this intimately now. And I’ve never been able to shake the realization that life can’t be controlled.

Only lived.

  

 

  7 comments for “You Can’t Go Back

  1. Jennifer
    July 10, 2015 at 11:03 pm

    Sometimes I look at pregnant people and I think, “You think you know what you’re doing, but you really don’t know what you’re doing”! I’ve thought so much about this lately. Did I know what I was getting myself into? Parenting my two unique kids is hands down the hardest thing I have ever done. I thought I was ready. I’m still not. But this I do know: what you did for your visiting teaching partner mattered. Writing this blog matters. The way you parent your sons matters. Someone is going to walk into the chapel on Sunday and see you and something will whisper to them to pay attention. Hopefully they will.

    • Megan
      July 10, 2015 at 11:24 pm

      Jen, you have a gift for saying the perfect thing. Thank you.

  2. Blue
    July 11, 2015 at 2:20 am

    Well, after Jen’s comment, there’s not much to add…besides that I think you are wonderful, wise, inspiring, and have important thing to say. Write on, little sistah! xox

  3. July 13, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    I only know from my experience, but I think that, too. There’s no guarantees for the perfect little family, the perfect child, etc. With Dominic, we had a false positive from blood work for down’s syndrome. I thought over, and over, and over, about my cousin who is Down’s and has autism as well. I thought a lot about my Aunt and how her life is still dedicated to serving her almost 30-year old son. I dreamt about the simian creases in my baby’s hands and whether there would be one or two.

    Now, I am waiting to meet baby girl and wondering what struggles she will have: physical, spiritual, emotional, etc. I certainly can’t hold her hand her entire life.

    And I chose this.

  4. louiseplummmer
    July 13, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    So well said. And still I keep trying to control.

  5. Molly
    July 14, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    Beautiful post. You always say it so well. Love the man-child who eat everything. Oh my goodness. I can’t believe I have 5 of them in my house, two that are now taller than me. And I cannot keep them fed. Ever. No matter how much I buy. Ever.

  6. Tom Plummer
    July 27, 2015 at 7:58 am

    Wise words that only experience can teach.

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