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When do you know your family is complete?

By Danielle Skinner 7 min read

I thought three children was what I wanted—but my heart had other plans. Losing two babies along the way however, wasn't part of it.

We had just welcomed our third child into the world: a precious boy after two gorgeous girls. We were absolutely stoked and showered our baby with love. Hubby and I had discussed and decided that three was our magic number, and that our family would be complete. 

Yet, as the weeks and months went past, every time I held our little boy in my arms, I couldn’t help but think that it was the last time I would hold my own newborn baby. With each milestone, this thought would creep in and my heart would ache.

Our bodies were designed to bring life into the world and the thought of this being it had me in tears in my quiet moments. I just didn’t feel done, but prayed that God would take that longing away as this was what we had decided for our family. As time went on, that longing became a bit more submerged and I came to accept that my days of baby-making were over.

One evening, a group of us were having a mums’ night out at a restaurant. The question arose as to whether each of us was finished having children. A few mums were definitely done and a few others were not. I sat there quietly, not really wanting to answer. I knew what my mind needed to say, but my heart wasn’t ready to say it out loud. Instead, I asked a few mums how they knew they were done. Each of them replied, “You just know!” Since I um-ed and ah-ed about my response, a few women stated that I probably wasn’t done.

This thought played through my mind as I went home and lay in bed next to hubby. As we always do, we debriefed about the evening, and this topic came up. I shared with hubby that I didn’t quite feel done, ready to shut up shop. To my surprise, he stated that he could possibly handle having four kids. I told him that there was no turning back now. I had spent the last year submerging those thoughts and desires, and I didn’t want to have to do that again!

It was decided. I would take the IUD out and we would see what happened. It was either now or never, as we didn’t want too much of an age gap between our kids. About six months later, I had a positive pregnancy test. We were overjoyed and promptly booked a doctor’s appointment to confirm our findings.

With all my other pregnancies, at the five- or six-week mark, terrible hyperemesis gravidarum (excessive vomiting) would begin. I anxiously waited for it to arrive, but much to my delight, it didn’t! Hubby and I were eager to share the news with our family but thought we would wait just a little longer.

When I was around seven weeks pregnant, my brother and sister-in-law
announced that they were expecting their first. We were absolutely overjoyed for them and struggled to keep our news to ourselves. We didn’t want to take away from their news, but decided to tell everyone at the end of the day. It turned out we were due one week apart! I was so excited and looked forward to sharing each milestone together and hoped that this would be a chance for us to connect even more.

At 10 weeks along, our world came crashing down.

I woke up to find that I had some spotting. This was out of the ordinary for me, so we made a prompt appointment with my GP who did a check and booked me in for an ultrasound that afternoon. Hubby took the day off to be with me and my brother-in-law took our son for the day. It was a long, drawn-out day and I just felt numb. How could this be happening when all the other pregnancies had been fine?

Sitting in the waiting room, I could only think that I was losing my baby. Tears welled as I held on tight to hubby’s hand. During the ultrasound, the sonographer was quiet. Anxiously, I stared at the screen, hoping to see something, anything. What we had feared was becoming more of a reality with each passing silent moment. We were told nothing, except that they would now do an internal check.

The sonographer finished what she needed to do and told us the GP would be in touch with us. That was it. Hubby asked if things were bad and the lady informed us very dryly that she was not allowed to say anything, but that we obviously knew something was not right. We were left still questioning and longing for someone just to say what we didn’t want to hear.

During our car ride home, I sat there staring silently out the window. Why was this happening? How could this happen to us? My heart ached for the child we would not get to hold and fresh tears began to roll down my cheeks. I needed to get home and just be alone; to begin processing our new reality. Hubby dropped me off back home while he went to get the kids, and I found myself curled up in our bed weeping uncontrollably. Was this going to be it? Were we not meant to have another child?

When the kids arrived home, they each came in wondering why I was crying so much. We had to break the news to them and allow them the chance to adjust. Each of them came and gave me big hugs and had a little cry with me. It broke my heart to see the sadness on their faces as they tried to make sense of it all.

It was Friday, March 31, 2017. I was supposed to be celebrating 10 weeks of pregnancy. It was also our 11-year wedding anniversary that weekend and we had already organised a getaway—just the two of us—in the city. We decided we would still go as the time together would be beneficial in the grieving process. It was bittersweet but allowed us time to support one another and discuss what we wanted to do.

Danielle with husband Dale and children, Emily (age 9), Tayla (7), Hayden (5) and Sophia (7 months).

Six months later in September, I was a week late. I had been reluctant to do any pregnancy tests as I didn’t want to get my hopes up. During a doctor’s appointment for something else, I mentioned that I was late. My doctor suggested we do a test and my GP thought she saw a very faint positive line. I went home with a little bit of hope.

I started to have some random spotting, so my GP got me to do a blood test to check how viable the pregnancy was. The numbers were low, but they were there. I kept getting the random spotting, so did another blood test to check the levels again. Throughout those weeks, I tried desperately not to get my hopes up. In my mind, I wasn’t convinced that things were good and so I tried to remove myself from the situation. The results this time were better than the previous test, but still low for this many weeks into pregnancy.

A few days later, I had some heavier bleeding which was later confirmed as another miscarriage. I felt numb. I didn’t know what to think. Should we still try for one more? It was over a year now since we started trying and the age gap that would be between our two youngest was getting bigger.

Could I handle having any more miscarriages? Why was this happening?

A week later, my sister-in-law had her little baby boy. We were overjoyed for them and enjoyed meeting and holding our nephew. But my heart also ached for our babies who we would never get to hold.

As the next few months went on, life got extremely busy as we moved interstate to new jobs. We were excited about our new adventure, especially with me starting work part-time after seven years off. We knew God had a plan for our family and we tried to put our questions behind us and just trust in Him.

Two weeks into our new jobs and I was again a week late. With great apprehension, I did another test. As it sat there on the ground, I tried not to stare at it, but to my great relief, a solid pink line showed up straight away. This time I just knew things would be different.

Almost two weeks later, I began to feel the nausea coming on. As horrible as it was, it was a welcome sign that helped to confirm the viability of this pregnancy. Hyperemesis gravidarum crippled me yet again, leaving me bedridden and weak for weeks on end.

We were grateful for each week further we got with the pregnancy, but I couldn’t completely relax until we saw our precious little baby on her first ultrasound. It brought tears to my eyes hearing her little heart beating so steadily and seeing her body moving around. Another miracle was here for us to enjoy.

On October 11, 2018, after two years on this journey, we welcomed our fourth child, a precious healthy little girl. When I held her tight to my chest, I knew that I was finally done! I knew that my body had been through enough and would not handle the strain that pregnancy placed on me physically and emotionally. Our family felt complete. And now, I finally understood what those women had said those years ago back in that restaurant: You just know!

After two miscarriages, Danielle and her husband welcomed their fourth child, a precious healthy little girl.

As our little bundle of joy continues to grow, I am doing my best to treasure each of those “lasts”. It still pulls at my heart strings, but I know that this chapter and stage of my life is almost done being written. I know God has great plans for our future and we have truly been blessed.


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Danielle Skinner is a stay-at-home mum to her four children. She trained and taught as a primary teacher in Australia and Cambodia and has started blogging at TrundleWithUs.com.au.


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