Empty Arms: “A Mother’s Intimate Story”

What we perceive is not always reality.  For example, spying a family happily playing in the park, one might automatically conclude that the creation of that family was a simple and natural thing.  However, their truth might present a rather different narrative.

Married at 18, and still somewhat a child myself, having a family was not at the forefront of my mind.  Once we decided it was time, I naïvely assumed pregnancy would happen quickly.  It didn’t.  For two long years, we tried to conceive. Every month when failure knocked, tears were shed.

Finally, the happy occasion arrived, the stick turned blue!!!  Like many first-time parents, we were overzealous in our excitement.  By the time I was four and a half months along, the nursery was ready; the crib was assembled with sheets, blankets, mobile and bumper pads in place, the changing table was stocked with diapers and wipes, the baby dresser was filled with sleepers and pictures hung on the walls.

Our joy was cut short when my water broke at four and a half months.  The amniotic fluid provides a type of protection for both the mother and baby.  Without it, the growing child may develop severe deformities and the mother’s reproductive organs could become irrevocably infected.

We faced an incredibly difficult decision, terminate the pregnancy we so desired or continue to carry the child and risk infertility.  How could I choose between my child and myself?  Despite strong counsel from both my obstetrician and a specialist, I continued with the pregnancy.  I willingly risked my own health for a chance to save my child.

Matthew James Miller - 08091990I carried that child, a boy we named Matthew James, for another four weeks before nature took over.  There are no words to describe how it felt walking out of that hospital with empty arms, a flat stomach, and breasts engorged with milk for a child whom I would never nurse.

Physically my body recovered quickly, the emotional wounds took much longer.  For the first months, a heaviness hung over me, a relentless grief.  Eventually, the haze began to lift, but there were days when completely unprovoked, profound sadness would strike. Tears would stream down my face with no apparent trigger.

My story does not end there.  Matthew died August 9, 1990.  On September 20, 1991, a little over a year later, Stephen Michael made his much-anticipated appearance.   His presence helped to dull the ache of our loss.  In 1993, I conceived again but miscarried early in the pregnancy.  Living overseas and being admitted to a foreign hospital exacerbated the trauma of that experience.

IMG_1182After those struggles, in 1994 & 1996, two more babies graced our lives, Brittany Rebecca, and Christopher David.   Looking at our grown children now, one would never guess the hardships we endured before they arrived, which is why I felt compelled to share our story.

Desiring a child to hold, love, and nurture while enduring the heartache of not having one is a lonely road to travel.  Should you find yourself on this forsaken path, I pray my story offers you not only the comfort of knowing you are not alone, but also the courage to continue hoping for your happy ending.

Until Next Time,

Becky J Miller
“Warrior Princess”

*Additionally, you can read my “Living Outside The Lines” post on San Marcos Corridor News.

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