by Meghan Moravcik Walbert

“Stay. Please, stay. I already love you, please stay.”

I am curled up on my side, one hand cradling my belly, which hasn’t even had a chance to round yet. It’s funny how the body can look normal, healthy, alive from the outside even as death is happening on the inside.

No, funny isn’t the right word for it, is it?

This position, these words, it is all I have. I want to go on the offensive and fight, but I know better. I know the likelihood of changing this sort of thing once it has started is low if not non-existent.

I close my eyes against the pain, I hold my breath and I wish. I wish to have made different decisions. To have wanted this sooner, to have wanted it more. Maybe if I wish hard enough now, this baby will find a reason to stay.

Maybe I won’t have to say goodbye to another child.

My first goodbye was 18 months ago. I didn’t lose that child from my body but rather from my home. We’d decided to become foster parents rather than give our son, Ryan, a biological sibling. My first foster son was three years old when he moved in; 11 months later a judge gave me 24 hours to pack him up so he could move in with extended biological family members. We never saw or spoke with him again.

The second goodbye, one year later, transpired in a totally different way. That foster son, the one my husband and I felt sure we would adopt, had just turned 10. He’d been with us for three months before it became abundantly clear that our home was not the right home for him. We still talk to him on the phone every week, and we get to pick him up for occasional lunch dates; he still calls us “mom” and “dad,” even though we are not likely to ever parent him again.

And now this little one. The wild card. The one we never thought we’d try for until we knew, finally, it was exactly what we wanted. The one who materialized so fast, it was like we hadn’t really tried at all. The one who filled us with joy and hope and promise at the very moment it felt we were lacking in all of it. Our fresh start.

I breathe out. I know what is coming next, and I can’t stop it. It doesn’t change the fact that I am still a mother. One who has promised her son a birthday party today. Loss, sadness, and inconvenience take a back seat when there are cupcakes to pick up and out-of-town guests to greet.

What I can’t ever do for one, I will do for the other.

“I’m sorry,” I whisper. “I love you.”

With that, I roll over on my side. I place my feet on the carpet. I push with both hands to stand.

I have to move forward. I have to move on, again. As much as I may want to, I can’t stay.


Image: Photograph via Flickr by ladyvee9