I spent the weekend cleaning out the closets with Lou. And the toy chests. Every time it gets a bit easier as I find less and less of Ty’s things. It’s natural for a home to transition from baby toys, to big kid toys, to teenager “stuff.” But when the traces of a life lost slowly disappear from existence, it is painful on a level that I can’t put into words.
This year, I am giving away a silly toy where you blow into a pipe and try to balance a little foam ball as it floats above. Aunt Debi bought it for Ty while he was in the hospital. It was great for his therapy, but he never quite recovered the strength to get the ball in the air. It was time to let it go. I was consumed with guilt as I watched my hand open and the object drop into a garbage bag. It feels as if I’m throwing away another memory, but at the same time I know I can’t keep everything (unless we're talking about a decomposing cake - that I can keep forever).
This year, Spring Cleaning had new meaning. Lou and I are expecting a new baby in October, so we had to consider keeping some of the items that would have otherwise been disposed of. It was so strange to imagine we should hold onto those car seats, and the toy kitchen. Surreal, really. I know, many of you are probably shocked reading this. I never really talked about having another baby… I think because I never truly believed it would happen for us, and it made me feel vulnerable.
Cancer didn’t just rob Ty of his childhood (and his adulthood, and everything in between). It robbed our entire family of what we were supposed to be. I wanted to have at least one more baby after Gavin. A girl (of course) and the three of them would grow up being the best of friends. When Ty was sick I often cried to Lou about how cancer was threatening us with Ty’s life, and also stealing our opportunity to add a new life to our family. We needed to be 100% there for our son, and a baby was an impossible thought.
After we lost him, my thoughts about getting pregnant were so terribly inconsistent. On one hand, I shuddered at the thought – as if a new baby would be a futile effort to replace the irreplaceable. On the other hand – I was in a panic because so much time had passed, I was so much older than I wanted to be if I was going to get pregnant, and my ovaries were shouting “tick-tock” when I tried to sleep at night. I worried that if something happened to me and Lou, Gavin would be alone in life.
A couple of years ago, Lou and I agreed that maybe a baby would be a good idea. Maybe it would bring some light and happiness back into our home. We tried to get pregnant, but it didn’t happen. I was shocked and angry because I never had any trouble getting pregnant before. Why? Why when I’m already in so much pain do I have to suffer another monthly reminder of how terribly wrong my life turned out.
I spoke to a doctor about the trouble we were having and he had lots of suggestions. None of which felt right. Lou and I decided that after all we’ve been through, we didn’t want to take any measures to make it happen. If it was meant to be, it was meant to be. And when I turned 40 in October, I truly started to accept that it wasn’t. In January my best friend treated me to a girl’s weekend in Puerto Rico where I shared my acceptance of this fact, and she insisted – poolside with a cocktail in hand – that I would get pregnant. That I was being ridiculous for talking like that and together we laughed and decided that if I did have a baby it would be a little girl (obviously) and I would name her Faith.
Turns out, when you give up on getting pregnant, accept your life as it is, and start planning for a different future, that’s when life likes to get interesting again. I got pregnant soon after that trip and I am going to have a baby in October. Just when I got truly comfortable with the fact that Gavin can take his own showers, wipe his own butt (sometimes), fold clothes (sort-of) and clean his room.
Sorry we didn’t tell anyone sooner. But I’m 40, and the statistics on things going wrong at this “advanced maternal age” are frightening. After all we’ve been through, I needed to get the results from multiple screening tests and blood work before I was convinced everything is going to be okay. The benefit of all this advance screening for old ladies like me is that we also get to find out the sex of the baby early-on and guess what?.... it’s a boy. I’ll share my thoughts on that in a few days because I need time to spill the mix of emotions I have over that fact.
This morning I caught the early train. I stopped by the bakery just as they were opening for a coffee and a warm, sticky, fruit and cheese Danish. I got settled on the last car, opened the bag, and just as I was getting it on with that delicious morsel, I felt him move.
It’s real. This finally feels like it’s really happening! And I guess he loves a warm danish as much as I do!
Just like that, I traded in my vision of pigtails and sundresses for my new morning date at the bakery. He will hold my hand and point his little chubby fingers to his favorite cookies behind the glass, and I will buy him anything and everything he wants :)