Flying Solo

From the time I was born, I believed all children came in pairs — like shoes, or Twix, or the elephants on the ark. This belief, however, wore off as soon as my twin brother, Ben, and I went home from the hospital and met our older brother, Jeff. But even then, I was still convinced kids came in nothing less than twos or threes.

I clung to remnants of that belief through to my adulthood. I’d met several card-carrying members of the “only child” club through the years, and for the most part, none of them were the bratty, overindulgent products the stereotype suggests. But even the highly successful or extremely charming ones of the bunch couldn’t sway me from believing that the perfect family includes at least a pair of kids.

But I don’t believe that any more.

After easily getting pregnant with Rainey in the summer of 2000, I assumed I possessed a uterus of steel. Then, when Scott and I started trying for our second child this past August, I became pregnant on our first try. It only took a few nights of getting up three or four times to pee and several hormonal outbursts directed shamelessly at Scott to convince us both that we were, in fact, in the family way again.

We giggled like toddlers at the double-lined positive pregnancy test. We picked out a couple of names we both liked. We considered room renovations and home improvement projects in preparation for the arrival of the newest member of our family. We even told a handful of our closest relatives and friends.

But two days before my first appointment with the obstetrician, when I was about ten weeks along, I began to bleed. I called Scott at the first sight of it. He told me to relax and put my feet up. Then I called my mom and cried. She told me to do as little as possible and prayed for me. And there I sat in the middle of my living room floor crying, knowing something might be terribly wrong.

Rainey simply touched my shoulder and said, “Mommy’s sad.”

And I had to agree. Not only was I sad, I was scared and alone with my thoughts.

What’s happening to me? Is my body somehow defective? Did I do something to cause this? Is this because I skipped last night’s prenatal pill? Is it because I carried Rainey around too much today? When will Scott be home?

Later that night, as the bleeding intensified, although he didn’t want to say it, the look in Scott’s eyes told me that I was, for sure, miscarrying our baby. The physical pain and discomfort over the course of the next few days convinced me of that fact.

Thankfully in the following weeks, my uterus healed on its own. My doctor followed up with an incredible measure of compassion and reassurance. My friends were warm and sympathetic. And Scott and Rainey were patient, kind, and flexible, even in the midst of their own loss.

In the months since then, though I’ve had my moments of sadness and self-pity, I haven’t doubted that God knows what he’s doing, even if I don’t understand why. Now I only doubt the belief that family is about numbers.

That doesn’t mean I don’t wish for a sibling for Rainey. And it doesn’t mean that I’m not stung by the occasional comments of other moms who unknowingly tease me that I somehow have an easier or less-fulfilling life because I only have one child.

It does mean I know how lucky I am to be the sister of two amazing brothers. And more than anything, I know how terribly blessed I am to have Rainey. If she’s the only child we ever have, then I can’t imagine having a better, more deserving one to lavish with my complete love and devotion.

And the other half of my Twix candy bar.

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