I have four kids now.
Wow, it’s true. I guess not many families are going for 3, 4, + kids these days, because Elizabeth and I usually get that open jawed “four?!?!” look from people when either we meet someone on the street we haven’t talked to in a long time, or just general strangers talking to us about our beautiful kids. (Yes, we’re blessed with four crazy, beautiful children and people have convinced us enough they really are extraordinarily beautiful to the point where strangers stop us to comment.) I’m not bragging. This is just fact that we’re relaying from our friends. (Ahem…okay, maybe I’m bragging a little.)
After the fact that we have four kids settles in, many people ask (no, not ask, comment as if they know something we should but don’t), “So you must be done?” Or, “So this is it then?”, and it always makes me laugh when either of us says, “Probably not, we want more.” To see their facial contortions is priceless.
So, we have four kids and we want more? Well, they must be really good and easy kids all the time. It must be a breeze then?
Hahahahahahahhahahahaaahahahahaha. That’s funny. I sort of, hurt, from laughing now.
Four kids is a butt tonne of work.
There are moments when I’m in the middle of making supper and I’m covered in sweat and haven’t showered in days. I’m taking a break from making supper as I’m (for the 5th time that day) forearm deep in a toilet full of shit being rung out from not-quite-there-yet-with-the-potty-training underpants. I’m thinking, for just splits of splits of seconds, that kid-less life as a-travelling-the-world-bassist sounds all right about now.
But then…I remember… the beating hearts…
That first time for each child going to the ultrasound and watching the nurse put the crazy blue gel on my wife’s beautifully beginning-to-bulge-belly and hearing the scratchy noise/feedback as the nurse tries to find the baby and simultaneously seeing some flutter of movement coupled with hearing that beautiful racing “wuu..wuu…wuu..wuu…wuu..wuu..wuu..wuu..wuu..wuu…wuu…” sound of a beating heart.
It is…truly…miraculously amazing.
I remember especially with our third child being in Labour and Delivery for the ultrasound on that cool laptop looking machine as the doctor poured the gel and chatted with us. Then I very quickly noticed our baby was dead.
There are just no other words to describe it. Our beautiful baby was dead. The doctor didn’t have to say anything.
There was no flutter of movement. There wasn’t a single “wuu” sound, just silence and grey. Our beautiful baby…died. His little lifeless body laid on his side, his head raised up a little looking almost like he laid down in bed to die comfortably. I hope he died comfortably, feeling no pain, and knew he was loved.
There were words coming from the doctor and the nurses, but I’m not sure what they said. They left us alone. I couldn’t muster a single thoughtful word to Elizabeth. It wasn’t real. We were 14 weeks pregnant. We were supposed to be safe. This doesn’t happen to us. This isn’t happening. I couldn’t cry. It wasn’t real. And then I thought of my two older children and THEIR beating hearts. And the realization of all that was not to be with our third child came rushing to my own beating heart and I wept so damn hard it hurt.
The following weeks and months were very alone—full of desperation and despair; hurt and sadness I’ve never experienced before, not even when my father died. To see my beautiful wife go through all of this (it was exponentially more than I was with both the emotional and physical aspects). Well, the feeling was horrific. I’ve never felt more useless as a husband and friend. It nearly destroyed us.
By complete fluke, we found a support group poster on a bulletin board. We joined the group and it was helpful to us both. We attended sessions for several weeks (or months) and told our story to people who had been through similar experiences. It helped immensely. We attended Walk to Remember where I was surprised to see other people I knew, but had no idea they experienced a loss like us.
Why does no one talk about this? I suppose it’s hard to bring up in conversation with anyone but those closest to you with a known trust level. But still, why do we not talk about it? Even I (who prides himself as someone who can talk openly about his feelings) found it very difficult to talk to anyone about this except for a few very close trusted friends and my immediate family.
I’m not sure if I’ve ever truly recovered. I’m still not sure if I’ve properly grieved for this and the other unfortunate losses we’ve experienced. But, I do know the immense joy and very deep (like you can’t understand, unless you understand) sense of relief I felt when I heard our next two beating hearts and saw their fluttering parts.
So you see when you comment and say to us, “Well you must be done?” At four kids, well, this whole beating hearts and healthy birth and series of first sitting, crawling, standing, walking, talking, running, growing, schooling, learning, amazing, enduring, beautifying, fullfillifying, and loving thing…..it’s kind of addicting.
Happy Birthday, to my little James Gallant, who can forever inhabit and borrow my beating heart.
*** Update: Feb 24th, 2015: have enjoyed hearing #5’s beating heart and seeing her fluttering parts these last few months. Coming to the Gallant house in June, 2015, and we couldn’t be happier.
Deryl’s story was first published on his blog: Bassic-ly me http://blog.derylgallant.ca/ on September, 18, 2013.