Rape-Related Pregnancy and Pregnancy Loss

Loss

Whatever you choose to do, being pregnant through rape means losses are forced upon you.  You have every right to resent them and grieve them.  That doesn't make you a bad person, or bad mother, and it doesn't mean you don't love your baby.  Damage from being raped or pregnancy complications can sometimes mean people can't have kids later.  This is also a significant loss and is talked about later in this page (you might wish to skip the other parts sections and go to Reproductive Loss).

Skylight Trust in NZ is an organisation which provides support for people of all ages facing a tough life situation of change, loss, trauma or grief.  It has some great resources, including ideas for remembering and honouring those you've lost.  You might also find the ideas I describe in In Memory of My Own on this website helpful.  Other organisations providing support are listed throughout the page below and in the links indexes. 

If you've chosen to keep your baby with you, you've got some wonderful things ahead of you!  But that doesn't mean you haven't suffered losses - lost freedom, lost sleep, lost financial independence, lost physical health ....  In my experiences gains and losses sit side by side rather than canceling each other out.  Be kind to yourself about the grief you have for what you've lost.  It's very natural to have mixed feelings, no matter how much you love your baby.

If you feel you've "chosen" to lose your baby, either through termination or adoption, remember this loss was forced upon you by the person who raped you.  You didn't choose the situation and losses come with any decision you make from this point.  This isn't your fault.  You made the best decision you could and feeling grief and sorrow doesn't mean you got it wrong. 

Termination's such a lonely experience for many women.  Arguments between pro-life and pro-choice groups can be very painful and confusing, and often women who're raped are used as examples.  Some women feel a real sense of loss after abortion and others don't.  How you feel is what matters.  There are no "shoulds" here.  If you feel relieved or if you feel grief, there's nothing wrong with you!  Please look after yourself very gently and kindly.  Although you might have been alone at the time, there are many women online who understand what it's like and who care about you.  You might find some support on these pages:
Post Abortion Support Message Board 
After Abortion Support Pages and Message Board
Peace after Abortion Author webpage

Option Line - After an Abortion
 

The loss of relinquishing a child is something I can only imagine.  To place a child for adoption requires such strength, bravery and love.  I'm sure this loss feels different - knowing that your child's alive and in the world, but not with you.  Please be very gentle with yourself.  You may find some comfort and support on the following pages.

In Australia:
Salvation Army Counselling Service  1300 36 36 22
Lifeline Telephone counselling service 13 11 14
Beyond Blue  - General mental health information and mental health services locator. 1300 22 4636
Relationships Australia - Various services including counselling, conciliation, courses, dispute resolution, trauma and crisis services etc. 1300 364 277
Origins Inc. NSW
- Counselling and assistance for birth mothers separated from children by adoption.(02) 878 61035
Origins Inc. QLD  (07) 3271 6813
Origins Inc. VIC 0423 616 256
Origins Inc. TAS (03) 6249 9314
WA Adoption Research & Counselling Service (ARCS)
- Professional counselling, support and information to anyone dealing with pre- or post-adoption issues.08 9370 4914
Adoption Awareness Week: How Adoption Works in Australia

Internationally:
After Adoption UK
Birth Parents First Parents Links to Information, Resources and Support
Birthmothers: Grief, Loss, Shame and Guilt Support Resources
Birthparents: Issues of Grief, Loss and Support 

 

If you lost your baby through miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirth or early neonatal death, that loss was also forced upon you.  Many of us feel bad for not doing more to protect our baby, though, when we're asked, we know there's nothing we could do.  Wanting to protect and nurture your children is very natural.  But if we could have, we would have! 

Many of us also feel responsible for the loss of our little one because we had mixed or negative feelings about the pregnancy.  It's inevitable that we'll have those feelings when the pregnancy is the result of being raped.  You can't cause a pregnancy loss by wishing, any more than you can stop one by wishing.  We just don't have that kind of control over life or death.

You may feel that your loss was "too early to count".  But we can bond with our baby at any time.  Dates and numbers don't matter - what matters is how you feel.  For me it was different each time and didn't depend on how far along I was.  This is a real loss - whether or not it was life we carried inside us, it was something significant.  All life is precious, and that maybe-life in progress mattered.  You deserve respect, time and space to grieve it properly.

There are many reasons for pregnancy losses and most aren't predictable or preventable.  Pregnancy loss is common.  Miscarriages happen to about 1 in 7 women who know they're pregnant. You're not alone in that experience.  You're also not alone in being pregnant through rape and losing your baby this way.

This information, including information about causes, might help you.  But remember, whatever you take from what you read, your losses aren't your fault.  Be very kind to yourself as you work through your reactions.

Loss in Motherhood - links on different kinds of loss from Radiantmother.com

Information About Types of Pregnancy Loss with Links to More Information from About.com  Books On Pregnancy Loss

Abortion due to Serious Health Complications for the Baby or Mother

Myths About Miscarriage Being Preventable
Causes of Pregnancy Loss

When a Miscarriage Occurs and Why it Can Happen

Miscarriage Help: Coping Emotionally After Miscarriage or Stillbirth

Ectopic Pregnancy
Ectopic Pregnancy: Emotional and Physical Loss

Some Causes of Premature Birth
March of Dimes - Why Do Women Deliver Early?

Odds of Survival for Premature Babies from about.com
Virtual Medical Centre Information about Premature Birth

Understanding Stillbirth      
Causes of Stillbirth
March of Dimes - Stillbirth
Perinatal Death
Stillbirth from Wikipedia
Surviving Emotionally After a Stillbirth

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Facts
Information for Families Dealing with SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome)

National Share Organisation for Infant Loss and Support

When an early pregnancy loss threatens your life or physical health there's an extra level of trauma involved, and sometimes a sense of being betrayed by your body.  You may be at risk for Post-Natal Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PN PTSD).  See the After Birth page here.  You need as much gentle help, understanding and support as possible to recover from such traumatic events. It's a good idea to talk to a counsellor about the rape and about these consequences.

These pages might help you find support:
Australian Helplines and Support Organisations for Miscarriage, Grief and Bereavement
Support after Miscarriage, Stillbirth or Newborn Death - SANDS VIC, Australia
The Royal Women's Hospital VIC, Australia, Pregnancy and Newborn Loss and Support Links  Miscarriage Support Organisation NZ
Online Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss Support 
Daily Strength: Miscarriage Online Support Group
Baby Centre Miscarriage Online Support Board
Miscarriage Online Support Group
Stillbirth and Neonatal Death Support - UK page
The Compassionate Friends - an international organisation that holds support meetings for parents whose child has died at any age from any cause.  They have no religious affiliation.
Healing and Grieving after Pregnancy Loss - a section of the Pregnancy Options website.
Parental Grief
Grieving the Death of a Child 
Griefnet.org Online Support Groups

If you have other children:
How to Talk to Your Pre-schooler About Pregnancy Loss
How to Talk to Your Grade-Schooler About Pregnancy Loss
Children and Miscarriage and Stillbirth

For more on talking to children about pregnancy through rape, see the A Pregnancy After This? page here.

If you're uncomfortable in settings where most people seem to have planned and wanted their child, you may find the best support in rape-related forums.  Pandora's Aquarium has a very compassionate forum on pregnancy loss, relinquishment, termination, and infertility.  People there understand both the rape and the pregnancy issues and will be very supportive.

People around you may assume, since you didn't choose the pregnancy, that your loss is a good thing.  I'm so sorry for the pain this may cause.  I know that it hurt me a lot to hear that "it was all for the best" - how could any of what I was going through be for the best? 

I hope it will help you feel less alone hearing how many people grieve for the loss of pregnancies they didn't want to have.  Mixed feelings are completely normal for these circumstances.  There's such a strong mythology of pure, clean, happiness surrounding motherhood, pregnancy and birth.  But in my opinion the nicey-nice version misses half the "miracle" of birth - the courage, strength and endurance that women put into it.  It's messy stuff and it's OK to have messy feelings about it.

Pregnancy Loss Through Assault:

Violence is the leading cause of maternal death during pregnancy.  There's also evidence that it increases the risk of pregnancy loss.  In most cases miscarriages are the result of random chromosomal abnormalities. But in some cases there's a direct link between an assault and a pregnancy loss.  The result may be connected but delayed.  Or it may be almost immediate. 

For me, this adds an extra dimension to the loss.  It's no longer a random event, but something chosen by someone else, either through cruelty or indifference to the value of human life.  There's a horror in that which is hard to find words for.  I don't know if the other little ones ever made it into "life", but the ones lost through assault ... there's no reason to think they weren't growing well, that they didn't have the full potential to be born and live. 

Some people make comparisons with women who choose a termination.  But there's a big difference between thinking carefully about the significance of what's growing inside you, considering what you can and can't do and acting to preserve your own life, and recklessly endangering or deliberately taking a maybe-life growing inside of someone else. 

In many legal jurisdictions there are crimes relating to the loss of a fetus through violence.  There's still a lot of debate about the effect of those laws, but very little debate about their intention.  Almost everyone agrees that there's an extra something wrong in making a woman lose her little one.

Intention does matter to me.  It matters in how I react to my losses.  I feel much more angry when losses were caused by deliberate torture or direct attempts to make me lose my babies.  I also feel more guilty that I couldn't do anything to protect them.  Guilt is a natural feeling when our minds rebel against helplessness.  I was powerless to save myself and powerless to save them too.  I know I am not to blame, but sometimes it's hard to feel that truth.

If you've lost a little one directly through assault you might like to read the section on anger on the Pregnancy Developing page here.  You might also find that counselling helps you work through your feelings.  I'm very sorry for your loss and also your exposure to such cruelty and indifference.  It is so deeply wrong and you did not deserve it.

Reproductive Loss:

The physical damage caused by rape and abuse can mean some women are unable to conceive or carry a baby to term.  For others, the psychological impact means it's hard to achieve the life circumstances required to have a baby.  There's a very fundamental loss in not being able to choose to have your own biological children. 

For everyone, pregnancy is chancy - none of us can guarantee to have children if and when we want to.  But, again, to know this was deliberately or indifferently taken from you adds a new dimension to your loss. 

People may try to comfort you by telling you that you can become a foster parent or adoptive parent.  For some people that's the right path, but it doesn't make your loss any smaller or easier to bear, and it doesn't quite fit the same space either. 

Some people feel ashamed or weak for grieving a loss like this.  If you read any of the links in the next section you'll see that it's particularly hard to grieve the loss of something intangible and not fixed in time. 

If you're feeling alone with this, you might find it useful to read the feelings and thoughts section later in this page.  Be as gentle as you can be with yourself.  This is something that's hard for anyone because the situation itself is so hard, not because there's anything wrong with your reactions.  

Infertility Help and Support
Pandora's Aquarium: Pregnancy Loss, Relinquishment, Termination and Infertility Forum
Beyond Childlessness

NIH Information About Infertility - US government site
About.com Infertility

About Infertility

RESOLVE.org: The Emotions of Infertility
Infertility Online Support Group 
Daily Strength: Infertility Online Support Group
The Australian Infertility Support Group
The Australian Infertility Support Group Links to Australian Support Groups, Australian Clinics, International Links and International Support Groups
Pregnancy MDs List of International Infertility Support Groups

RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association - US site, with links to local HelpLine numbers in the US
Conquering Infertility: Dr Alice Domar's Mind/Body Guide to Enhancing Fertility and Coping with Infertility
Infertility Sucks: Keeping it Together When Egg and Sperm Stubbornly Remain Apart
I Am More Than My Infertility 
Unsung Lullabies: Understanding and Coping with Infertility

 

A Child with Special Needs:

I've only ever been on the child end of this parent-child relationship.  When I was about 16 I acquired a physical disability.  I've seen my parents' grief and anguish and appreciated the extra efforts they've made to help me develop my full potential.  I've also, at times, misinterpreted their grief as disappointment, or lack of confidence, in me, instead of sympathy for my struggles.

That seems to be a common problem for children with a disability.  If you're able, tell your child often how proud you are of things that they can do.  Be as specific as you can.  You might want to see the section on building self-esteem on the A Pregnancy After This? page here. Children are very sensitive to their parent's feelings.  So, if you feel sad, rather than trying to hide it, explain you're sad because they have a harder time than other kids and let them know you're impressed by how they deal with that. 

It's normal for you to experience sadness, anger, guilt, helplessness, confusion, loneliness, feeling overwhelmed - lots of complex feelings.  You're not alone and there is support.  I’m very sorry you’re seeing difficulties now, and in the future, for your child.  I'm also very sorry for the effects on your own lives.  Go easy on yourself as you, very understandably, grieve those losses.  I hope these links might help:
Parental Grief and Adjustment to a Child with a Disability
 
Disability Online: Grief and Children 
Children with Disabilities: Understanding Sibling Issues
The Impact of Childhood Disability: The Parent's Struggle 
Having a Child with a Disability: Adjustment 
Disability and Grief Workshop Notes 
Parentlink: Children with a Disability 
A Trip to Hawaii: A Special Needs Parenting Fable 
The Elephant in the Playroom: Ordinary Parents Write Intimately and Honestly About the Extraordinary Highs and Heartbreaking Lows of Raising Kids with Special Needs  
VIC Better Health Channel: Children with a Disability - Support for Parents 
Pandora's Aquarium Special Needs Parenting Forum 
Special Needs Parenting Internet Forum, Articles and Resources 
Special Needs Children: Finding a Support Group
Parent Support and Disability Mailing Lists/Forums Directory
Some More Special Needs Parenting Support Groups
 
Parent Support Group - Washington, US, with online resources
Parent/Caregiver Support Groups - Cincinnati, US, with online resources
Netmums Support Groups (Offline) for Autism Spectrum Disorder 
Raising Children Network: Children with Disabilities - includes discussion forum
Raising Children Network: Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder
 
Stress Management Tips for Parents of Children with Disabilities
Living with Your Child with Special Needs
Association for Children with a Disability: Parent Stories
  
You Will Dream New Dreams: Inspiring Personal Stories by Parents of Children With Disabilities
Parents of Children with Disabilities - Friendship 
Journaling to Relieve Stress for Parents of Children with Special Needs
Comparing Ourselves to Other Mothers

There's more practical information, support and resources for parents of children with special needs on the A Pregnancy After This? page here.


 

Grieving:

This page talks about what makes pregnancy losses unique when it comes to the grieving process.  I can certainly relate to all these points.  I hope if you relate to any of them too you'll at least feel less alone. 

Here's some information about common stages of grief (go to the Fact Sheet on Grief and Loss) and the healing process of "normal" grief.  Here's a support page about unacknowledged grief you might also find useful and another about parental grief.  This page on Loss in Motherhood covers many types of losses.  These pages might help if you're going through this very difficult experience with other children:
Helping Children Through Crisis, Grief and Loss
 
Grief and Loss for Children

Looking at the stages that are being described, I've definitely been in shock and denial (see the Recovering Memories page here).  I think perhaps something that rape adds to this situation is the horror of someone else completely disregarding the sacredness of life.  I'm shocked at how little the people who raped me cared if they created a new life.  In fact they were willing to use that as an element of torture.  There's something peculiarly awful about that.  It certainly adds to the shock and to wanting to deny it for me.  I want to deny the existence of that level of cruelty too.

I have felt guilty and I do still feel a sense of responsibility, just wishing I could turn back time and somehow have the strength and ability to prevent what happened. 

I think that's a very common response to rape and sexual abuse too.  It seems almost universal that people feel somehow to blame.  So many different people, so many different circumstance, yet always this in common - I think the feeling has to be an effect of being raped, not the truth.  When you combine it with the normal sense of responsibility people have to their children then it can be overwhelming.  It's taken me some time to start moving on from here ...

At the moment I mostly feel angry - both at myself (which is disturbing) and at the people who did this to me.  I am angry on behalf of my children more than I am for me.  How dare someone treat them as so unimportant and so unworthy of respect!  I talk above about wanting justice for them.  I still have a blind-spot for me in much of this, but I'm starting to feel angry at the people who hurt me too.  It's a difficult emotion for me - it was so unsafe when they were alive - but I'm learning.

I guess wishing I could go back is a bit like bargaining.  I do a lot of mental apologizing to my little ones at the moment, promising I'll make something good come from it somehow.  I couldn't give them life, but I want at least to give them that gift. 

I have felt so much sadness that it was like overwhelming physical pain.  I desperately wanted to escape it.  Channeling it helped more perhaps?  I find now that I've done more to remember my little ones the pain has eased and become calmer.  It's still there and sometimes it still feels overwhelming, my heart aches and I need to cry (though I can't always do it).  I don't think the sadness will ever fully go away, but how it feels is changing over time. 

I can see now that this love I feel for them has been a gift.  I don't exactly wish it had never happened because that would be wishing my little ones undone.  But it hurts.  These sorts of feelings go round and round and happen in layers and spirals.  It really is an individual process, whatever common features there might be, and we go through it in our own way and our own time. 

I want to move forward.  But I want to take my little ones with me.  I hope there'll be a time when I don't think about them much because I'm too busy with and focused on my life in the present.  But I never want to forget them again.

One way to grieve is to do something to remember and honour your child.  You might get some ideas through the pages here about what I've done in memory of my own.  Everyone is different - give yourself time and space to find what feels right to you.  I hope these pages help to bring you peace and comfort.  I'm very, very sorry for your losses.

Feelings and Thoughts:

Please be aware that this section may be upsetting and contain graphic details.

Questions I asked:
If you've lost a child you conceived through rape,
1. When and how did you lose them?
2. How did you feel? 

Answers:

1. I became pregnant after I was raped, and I still don't know if it was the rapist's or my husband's, my husband thinks it might have been the man that raped me, because we weren't having sex so much because I felt dirty, but I did end up losing the baby through miscarriage, I was about 12 weeks along I believe.
2. Numb, I don't know how I felt. It felt weird having a child inside you that may or may not have been your husband's. I felt violated most of the time back then, and I think I may have been slightly relieved when I miscarried, but I was sad as well. I have trouble getting pregnant, so anytime I am pregnant I find it to be a miracle, of course since I didn't know who the father of the baby was, I was very conflicted.

1. I had several rape-related pregnancies, and lost my little ones at different stages ... through miscarriage, torture-related miscarriage and directly forced abortion.
2. I felt ... completely confused (I hadn't known I was or could be pregnant in most cases), upheaval, relief I didn't have to decide what to do, pain, like my heart was being ripped out, angry - very fiercely angry, silenced and silent with grief, very very alone, crying, sobbing, love, tenderness, pity, responsibility and guilt, feeling I wanted to go back and protect them somehow, very frightened, wanting medical help but unable to get it, like something special had been taken from me, violated and repelled ... sick.  It's a big confused mix, I know ... but it's a very mixed set of experiences. 

About Reproductive Loss:

I had an OB/GYN appointment after being raped almost 5 years ago, for a general checkup and because of some health issues. After a lot of tests they said I have less then an 85% chance of being able to conceive because of abuse when I was a child. They say it would be a miracle if I carried to term and if I ever did that the baby wouldn't survive.  When I first found out I was so so angry. I felt like I was being victimized all over again by my childhood perps. I felt like I had been cheated and robbed. Especially as I have always worked with kids and used to dream about being a mother, and how my child's life would be so different from what I had experienced. I didn't cope well at the time and had a nervous breakdown, it was too much to take on top of being recently raped.  Although it is still so painful to think about, never is such a final word which doesn't inspire much hope, it's not the end of the world it once was. I work with kids and hopefully enrich their lives in some small way and spend lots of time with my friends children. I'm also thinking that I want to foster children when I have started healing. That way I can help many children rather then just the one or two I could have had myself. Some days I get so jealous when I see pregnant women or newborn babies but it's nothing like the despair it once was. I struggle a lot when people talk about abortions, but I'm starting to realize that it is such a traumatic experience for the women I shouldn't be envious.  I think there will always be that shadow of what if in my life especially when in relationships and the conversation turns to the future and I have to say "there's something you need to know..."

I can't have kids now.  I'm both hurt and angry about it.  It's the ONE thing I desperately want and the last human thing taken from me.  I have no other family either, so when I am gone there is no one else. I don't believe in adoption .... That's just how I feel personally for myself, and I realize it is a wonderful and important thing for many people ... just not me.  I want my own children. (I also don't believe transplants, organ donations etc. for myself).  It makes me angry when people say well you can adopt.  I find that highly insulting and a blow to me as a woman that I can't have my own kids.  So now I'm stuck with having lost two babies and not being able to have one now when  I want one.  A child of my own, and of my own choice  ....   Sometimes I even resent being pregnant (from rape) twice, that those babies took something from me and I hate them for who they would have represented in the world.  Then I feel guilty for feeling that way...  But in the end, I'm physically damaged.  I can't have kids.

I don't know if I'll be well enough to have kids before I'm too old.  What if I'm getting too old now?  Are we right to wait for a better time?  I still have a lot of healing to do.  And I don't know if once we start trying we'll discover I've been too badly damaged inside.  I hope not.  It looks OK so far.  It hurts that we've had to consider I mightn't be able to have children.  It hurts that it's a bigger risk of a loss my husband has taken on in marrying me.  I know it's not guaranteed for anyone.  I know that people do have kids still when they're older.  I'm worried about us having a child with a disability when I'm still struggling with my own disabilities, physical and mental.  It makes me angry it's even an issue.  It used to make me feel damaged, but now I'm so sure I'm loved anyway .... I asked my husband how he'd feel if we couldn't have our own kids about trying adoption or fostering - I'd love to help someone else and mothering is just something I think would suit me and I'd be good at ... an essential part of me .... He said he'd be disappointed.  And, yes, so would I.  It's not the same thing as our own kids at all.  I want to see a little him-me mix.  I want us to share that process of creation.  But I think that we would do that if we can't have our own.  That makes it sounds a second-best and I'm sorry it ever should be.  I hope that our child, if we did go that way, would know they could never be second-best.  Love is love!  I worry too, that after so many losses, I won't be able to have a child when I want to.  I try to take it a little step at a time.  You never know, I tell myself.  I never knew I'd get this far either.  One step at a time.

1. The doctor told me... I have internal wounding, still, and from the beginning they said they wouldn't know the extent of the damage until it healed. Which it more or less has, and the other day I went to the doctor and a whole group of doctors came in to look at my test results, and to do exams, and nobody would tell me what was going on, but they all seemed to be agreeing on something. And then my doctor took me into her office and showed me the scans and compared them to a healthy scan, and showed me the permanent damage and explained that it means I won't be able to carry a pregnancy to term. I can conceive, but I won't be able to stay pregnant.
2. Quite raw. I only found a matter of days ago... I'm angry, that because of him I won't be able to do what I've most wanted since I was a little girl. And sort of... lost. Like I've been throw off track because everything I thought I was working towards isn't there anymore. People say you can't let that one event, or events, define you, but... it will, won't it? For the rest of my life I will be defined by the fact that my children are adopted, or were born via surrogate, and while I won't love them any less because of it, it'll be a fact of life that I did not give birth to them, because I couldn't, because I was raped. I just feel like it's unbelievably unfair that I can't have children when he can. He had a little girl and he abused her. Why should he, and people like him, get to have children when people who would love them and protect them, don't?  Another thing people say to me, is that he didn't 'damage' me. That I'm still just the same person as I was before. But the thing is, he did damage me, didn't he? I can't have children now because of what he did. If that's not damage, I don't know what is. It's not 'just' emotional or psychological (and I'm not meaning to minimize those effects in any way at all because they are truly horrible), it's physical. My body is changed because of what he did. If you think about it, our bodies are designed to bear children. That's what we're for, basically, and now I can't, and it's all because of him.  Also, and this is probably going to sound ridiculous, but I'm kinda pissed off because I still have to deal with all the hassle of birth control and things, forever, because if I do get pregnant I'll miscarry. And it's one thing to be messing around with things like that when it's a choice about if and when you get pregnant. It's a bloody pain to be doing it knowing that I can't be pregnant anyway, but I still have to do it. It's trivial, and it doesn't hurt as much as the other things, but it's annoying! 
3. I've only known for a couple of days. But it does change from being thankful that I know now, instead of finding out when I'm already pregnant and it's too late to save the baby (which is when most people find out, with this condition) to utterly miserable, to really determined to adopt or have a surrogate or whatever and be the best mum I can be just to show him what he can't take away from me.
4. Pandy's (Pandora's Aquarium). I made a post about it and so many people are so supportive and said such lovely things... it just made me feel like it wasn't the end of the world, and that I'm not alone in the struggle. And one person (sorry, I forget who it was) said that pregnancy only lasts nine months but motherhood lasts forever, and he can't take that from me. And it's true, being pregnant isn't the only way to become a mother. I wish that I could be, of course, and it'll always hurt that I can't, but... I don't know. Maybe it'll end up meaning a little baby who needs a home gets one, and gets someone who'll love it, or that someone else who wants to help people by being a surrogate will have someone they can help? I hope so, anyway.

I was severely abused as a child by both my parents and "church family". As a result of the severity/brutality of the abuse, I required reconstructive surgery before I married my husband. We have been married 20 years, but in order to be able to have---according to the doctor--- "normal sexual relations" I required extensive repair before our wedding day. I lost three babies in the first 4 years of our marriage. I was unable to carry because of the physical damage and some other health issues-all related to the abuse. I was told after I lost our third baby, a little girl we call Callie, that we would never have children.  Fortunately for us, I was able to have one "miracle" baby after more than 5 years of trying. We had been told that children just "weren't in the cards" for us and had begun to accept that when I found out I was carrying him. He is an amazing young man, now 14 years old. I so very much wanted to have a large family. We planned on having at least 4 children, but he is our sole blessing. It feels unfair that he will never experience the joys and frustrations and all the things that come with having siblings. It's their fault (my abusers), not mine, but I can't help but feel a bit responsible for his loss and ours. I wouldn't trade him for the world and am so very blessed to have him in my life. It took a long time to get past the sorrow and bitterness of not having a choice about the composition of my family, but I'm at a place of genuine peace about it now.  The reason I was unable to have more children is that following my son's birth I required 2 more extensive reconstructive surgeries and would never be able to carry another child to term. It was heartbreaking to know that, before my son had reached 2 months old (when I had the first surgery), he was the only child that would ever come into our family. I will require several additional surgeries in my lifetime, so will continue to be reminded of the past. So, in direct response to the questions below:
1. I found out I would not be able to have more than my one son when he was 2 months old. I was devastated and in fact, continued to "try" to get pregnant for 2 years, until my next surgery. At that point the surgeon told me that bearing another child would endanger my life. I had a tubal ligation at that time and closed the door on the idea of having more children.
3&4. Over the years I have come to a place of acceptance. I have grieved the children I lost (the losses were a direct result of the damage caused by the abuse) and the children I will never have. It took time to come to the point of acceptance, but if you can't get there you lose the opportunity to be happy and move forward, to enjoy the things you DO have in your life. All that said though, I'm not sure it's something I'll ever "get over". I found a place for it in my head and even in my heart, but it's still there. To know that so many choices were taken from me, even the choice of how many children would come into my home, is a hard pill to swallow.
5. I don't know how to answer this one. I believe everything in life happens for a reason. I'll never know some of the reasons, but knowing it isn't random, that good comes from even the worst of circumstances, makes it more bearable---at least for me. I have been given an amazing gift---the gift of motherhood---and I never take it for granted. If children had come easily for me, perhaps I would have been more inclined to overlook the amazing day to day gifts that come with the trials of being a parent. Motherhood isn't what I expected or planned---as I said, I always wanted a large family---but it is a blessing nonetheless.
I can't imagine never having been given the chance to be a mom. And of course, that was the premise of your questions---never having children. So, perhaps this doesn't answer your questions or even help. The fact is, I did get to have my son and I understand many women don't get such a gift.

1. I don't know if I can actually conceive - I've never been able to have a relationship since I was raped! The thought of even trying terrifies me - and I feel very abnormal because of that! So,
2. Yeah, I feel like I've lost the chance to have a family of my own!!
3. How do I feel about it? It just about destroys me to think about what I've lost out on! Kids were all I ever wanted and the thought that I'll never have them is unbearable! I'm in my late 30s now and I actually think I'd have made a good mum!! There aren't many things I'm good at, but I think I'd have been good at that!!!
4. Maybe I always hoped that I'd be able to put this behind me - like so many people around me seem to think I should have been able to do years ago - and that I maybe would be able to have kids - but now that I'm older and the fear isn't lessening any at ALL, then I know now that it'll never happen!!
5. No - I literally have no single friends - and all my friends have kids!! ALL of them!!!! I love all the kids so much - I do - but most of the time being around them kills me because I know that I'll never have what my friends have got!!! To be honest - I haven't even started to grieve for that loss...!  You mentioned "inarticulate howls" - at times it feels like that's all I have...!!

Photos from Butterfly Pictures

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