My cheeks become flushed as my eyes scan a pregnancy announcement.
In an instant, I begin to sweat.
My womb screams with a familiar ache.
My heart races at the thought of seeing a positive pregnancy test.
My arms long to cradle a warm, sleeping baby.
My fingers search for the fine, downy hair that perfectly complements the soft skin of a newborn.
These sensations are familiar, though they’ve been absent for a while. My body has existed in this state many times over the past decade—sometimes for months, even years, at a time. But this time is different.
Because this time, there is no remedy.
It’s as intense a baby fever as I’ve ever had, but this time there won’t be a baby because pregnancy is no longer an option.
This time, I know the ache of my womb will not be relieved by the presence of new life within it. My heart will never again race with untamed joy at the sight of a positive pregnancy test. My arms won’t be holding any more babies—at least none of my own. My fingers will forever search for that soft downy hair, but they won’t find it.
No, the prescription for this baby fever can no longer be filled.
Allowing it to expire was by choice, but it wasn’t one I wanted to make. My husband and I took the steps to ensure we couldn’t conceive another baby. And though I cling to the belief that it was the right choice, sometimes it still hurts.
I’ve got two beautiful children who I tuck into bed each night. I look into their eyes and tell them I love them before turning off the lights and am overwhelmed by the same awe and wonder as when I gazed into their eyes as babies.
They are mine, I tell myself.
And yet, somehow—right now, in this moment—it doesn’t feel like enough.
I feel like my motherhood has been cut short—the desire for one more baby multiplying every time my children outgrow another stage. Every time I look, really look, at the newborn photos displayed on the mantel. Every time a baby appears in my newsfeed.
You see, the road to two children was marred by loss. It was hard—harder and more heartbreaking than I could have imagined. There were four pregnancies, but only two resulted in bringing a baby home.
And when we welcomed what would turn out to be the last baby into our family, our hearts agreed we did not have the strength to risk another loss. We could not justify putting our family through the stress of trying for—or losing—another baby.
While I’m grateful to know what it’s like to walk into the hospital pregnant and walk out of it with a baby, I also know what it’s like to leave empty-handed.
I know what it’s like to step out of an exam room and come face-to-face with a pregnant woman immediately after finding out my baby was no longer considered viable. I know what it’s like to give birth to a baby who never cried while listening to the cry of someone else’s baby echo down the halls. I know what it’s like to lay a baby to rest in the one place a baby should never be—the cemetery.
I know things about life and death, loss and grief that no mother should ever know.
And for that reason, we made the decision to call our family complete after our second living child was born even though it will never truly feel that way.
I’m fortunate for the children I get to raise. Believe me when I tell you I’m grateful. But I assumed my arms would carry at least one more.
I see images of new babies, safe and secure in the arms of their mothers. I see images of complete families, their hearts whole and arms full.
In the past, the treatment for it has been the birth of a living baby—MY baby. Or at the very least, the idea—the hope—that there might be one in the future.
But there won’t be another baby. Not in this lifetime.
I’m not sure a full recovery is possible. Will I always feel the discomfort of an ailment that can’t be relieved?
But when the symptoms of baby fever consume my entire being, I cling to God’s promise that this life isn’t the end.
An eternal life awaits. Where longing and disappointment, emptiness and discomfort don’t exist.
But where two of my babies do.
So while there won’t be any more babies here on earth—while the two I hold might never seem like enough for this mama’s arms—Heaven holds hope. Along with the cure for this fever that has yet to be eased.