This story was written by our daughter Shannon. Shannon fills in for me on Gerry Tales and last year she wrote this wrenching column. She told me it was a story that she thought needed to be told, for all of the women who shared her experience. I read it and as a parent it was crushing. I told her I couldn’t edit it and maybe we should wait before publishing. She was not happy with me.
In the end, I did not have the guts to publish this story because a daughter’s anguish sticks to a parent like a Velcro vest. Families are complicated. As is this story. Which deserved to be told last year. I’m sorry for that Shannon, but I do think it’s a case of better late than never.
I saw the Humane Society notice: "Meet your best friend at the
Zoo." I knew that if I made it to the zoo our current rescue dog, Princess
Fiona, would have a companion canine. There is a hole in my heart I’ve been
trying to fill and I thought a small dog would fit there just fine. My husband
Steve is compassionate, but knew another puppy wasn't the answer to our aching
Steve and I have been trying to conceive for over a year now. Our son Asher is the joy, of our life. He’s turning three in November and our plan was to have a little brother, but preferably a sister, join our family by now. Asher has determined that it could be easily accomplished with a visit to the "little sister store," which should be located next door to the Doll Hospital and Toy Soldier shop in Berkley, for easy pick up. His simple solution made us smile through the tears of the reality.
Our first miscarriage happened in November. I was only six weeks along and when my spotting was joined by a sharp backache I put myself to bed and a couple of blood tests later my worst fears were confirmed. In the weeks following I was assaulted by the emails I had gleefully signed up for when I first learned I was pregnant. I deleted them all, including the ones showing the size of the baby at various months of pregnancy. With every new pregnancy that was announced I tried to be happy for the new moms and dads, but privately, it brought tears to my eyes.
Common wisdom says you should wait three months to start again, current studies say one full cycle. I found out that no matter what my physical story was, emotionally I couldn’t even fathom another pregnancy until at three months later. Amazingly – we got pregnant right away. The Spartans were playing basketball just as they were when we found out the good news about Asher.
Easter arrived. I was still pregnant and quite emotional. The new dress I had bought had a broken zipper – my tears were flowing freely as my hubby kept zipping and unzipping while he reassured me that the extra weight I was holding onto was a part of my pregnancy.
The spotting didn’t start until after dinner but even that tiny amount of blood was shouting at me.
This time I knew the drill and I continued on with life as usual. My birthday arrived that week and I returned home from my blood draw to a childhood friend whose landscaping company I had called to do our spring cleanup. He stopped inside. As I wrote him a check, we talked about the stupid games we used to play in the neighborhood and I kept thinking “this is so nice, I can talk for two hours and I don’t have to mention once how I’m feeling, or what I’m going through. He’s giving me a birthday present and he doesn’t even know what’s going on.”
Six months have passed since then. We’re still trying, I’m still grieving and I’m still healing. I finally understand how hearing others’ news can make you feel unequivocal joy and soul-sucking sorrow simultaneously.
The seasons are changing again and it’s my favorite time of year. Time to call Mike Bancroft to do our fall cleanup. Time to put my garden to bed, and maybe, just maybe we’ll get another little bit of March Madness good news. But for now, I’ll enjoy the little things that are slowly filling up the hole in my heart. The ear to ear grin when Asher catches sight of me after preschool, a glass of wine on the front porch with Steve after a long day, and Sunday night dinners that bring four generations of family together.
Two years later...
Eileen Frances Crepeau is 3-months-old and we’re planning Asher’s fourth birthday. We were all really, really happy it was the beautiful little girl Shannon had hoped for, and we’re pretty sure if it was a boy, he was going to have to learn to enjoy tutu’s!
Even today, Shannon can’t look back on her story, yet she still wants it to be published and shared with others that have been in her position. I’m proud of her. Life is grand and sad and complicated.
It’s Monday…let’s go!
Gerry Boylan is the author of the novel Getting There and the short story collection Gerry Tales. Both are available at Amazon.com and the Yellow Door in Berkley, MI.