Saturday March 23, 2013

It happens every few months here in New England. There is a shift in the air. It starts as a cool breeze or a warm ray of sunshine. Tiny details transform into something completely different. Leaves fade from green to yellow to red then brown. The grass slows its growth, birds head south. The green lush landscape is replaced with beautiful crystalline white which, slowly, melts away to green once again. Before we are fully aware, the seasons change completely. Just as beautiful as the last one but completely different.

Change is good and without it life would become stagnant, stale. Sometimes it happens as naturally as the seasons and other times it takes an outside force to enact it. I have gone through many changes in my years here. From baby to girl to woman. I am barely the same person I was 15 years ago. Many factors have contributed to these changes but none so profound as the past 18 months of my life.

There has never been doubt in my mind that we would go on to have another baby. After our daughter was born we talked and decided that we would love to have our children close together. Two years apart was our ideal. So, a few months after her first birthday we started our journey to a family of four. I got pregnant quickly. Three months later I lost the baby. We were devastated but refused to let it slow us down. We kept trying. One year, three miscarriages and no new baby later, here we are.


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I put on a brave face and say things like, "When the time is right it will happen," and, "At least I have my daughter." But, the reality is, I miss those babies that I never got to meet. I mourn not having ever felt them kick, giving birth to them or holding them. I struggle to answer the frequently asked, "Are you going to have more children?"

I just read an article recently that talked about some new pregnancy findings. Researchers have found that every time a woman becomes pregnant, regardless of the length of pregnancy or outcome, the fetus’ cells become a part of the mother’s body long after she has given birth or miscarried. This means that every baby changes the mother. She is no longer the same at a cellular level.

These findings give me comfort. I may never have been able to hold these babies but they will always be with me and I am changed because of all four of them (we had a loss before our daughter). This change is not just cellular. I feel like a different person. I try to remember that time brought me these changes, this sadness. Time will also help soothe it.

I try to live my life with a focus on positivity and love. The love I have for my family helps to guide me through the sadness. The days and weeks following my losses were a blur of gratitude for the life I was given and deep sadness for the ones I had lost. I spent days focusing on grieving until one day I realized I had so much love and laughter in my daughter to be thankful for. I shifted my focus off from what could have been and onto what is.

I do not take one second with our daughter for granted. I try to laugh as often as possible. I try to soak in every idiosyncrasy of being a 2-year-old. Listening to her say, "I love you," and sing me her favorite song make me strive to be a better person. The messy, noisy, chaos reminds me of how lucky we are to have her.

I relish and take in every day as her mom. Even the challenging days. Those are the days I try to slow down the most. Those are the days I try to learn the most. We are growing our relationship and learning each others ever changing needs. We are both a work in progress. Every moment I have with her is a blessed one.

Like the changing of snowflakes to raindrops, I cannot pinpoint the moment I changed. I don’t know if I am done. All I know is that our dream of having another baby is still the same. And, for now, we are still trying to make that dream a reality. In the interim I find comfort in our life, our love and our daughter. This beautiful, smart, funny and completely awesome little girl who changed me more than anything in the world.

Michelle Stephens is a wife, mom to a toddler, photographer, writer, the most outgoing shy person you will ever meet and a super hero in her head. She blogs at www.JuiceboxConfession.com Email her at JuiceboxConfession@gmail.com Follow her on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/JuiceboxConfession.