Posted by: DD | November 17, 2006

no. 319 – “If Only. Those Must Be The Two Saddest Words In The World”

We all have these moments in life that we categorize into “Regrets” or “Defining” that make us think about how different our lives would be if only XYZ had (or hadn’t) happened. It could be something as simple as "if only I had learned to roller skate" or as thought-provoking as "if only the first plane would have missed the Tower”.

This is just an abstract thought at best since usually there is nothing that we could have done to change the outcome, but then I really started to wonder exactly what moment, what detail, would I have said "if only" to; AND if I was granted a super power to make only one change to something in my past that would most certainly make me a completely different person than I am today, what would that be?

For me, it’s probably very obvious: IF ONLY there had been no random mutation of Vivienne’s genetic makeup at the moment of conception.

When I try to imagine how different my life would be right now and allow myself to slip, even momentarily, into that fantasy, I can feel my the constriction on my heart lift and my stomach unclench and my brain quiets. Just long enough to feel something other than repressed pain. Unfortunately, for every action, there must be an equal and opposite reaction. I’m a realist (read: cynic) and appreciate that this one moment would significantly impact how different Mr. DD, X and I would be today.

What astonishes me when I try to follow that line of thought is how hard it is to come up with the positives. Sure I would have my little boy and my little girl and we would be a family of four and I quite possibly would never know the ache that comes from losing a baby (much less three), but would I have the same depth as understanding as I do now because of that loss?

I have a friend who as I write is in the middle of her second IVF cycle. We did not know that there was a first until one of us called the other to announce our simultaneous pregnancies (mine with Vivienne and hers with Baby B). Up until that revealing moment, Mr. DD and I were the awful couple who proclaimed how easy it was to get pregnant if you “just relaxed”, “had sex more”, and would offer up our son for a day to show that children could be a real pain in the ass.

Because we lost our baby; because we have gone through two years of treatments and more loss, we now communicate better with our friends as they get back on the hellish roller-coaster of IVF. No more assvice or verbal diarrhea here.

My husband and I probably would not still be sneaking into our son’s room after he falls asleep to just stare at him and wonder how in world we ever got so lucky to at least get this one little miracle assigned to our hearts.

I will never say this is how I would have preferred things to have turned out for us since I’m sure I would rather be a tired, cranky, shallow Mommy to a nearly five-year old boy and a toddler girl then to feel this . . . disembodiment . . that I do now.

We each have our “If Only” moment. We may even have more than one! But if you had to pick just one in your whole life, what would it be? How do you think it would have impacted you or those around you? Something to ponder over this weekend as we pass into the holidays…it’ll be something I will never stop thinking about.



  1. I know this probably sounds trite…but I don’t have any “if onlys.” I wouldn’t change a thing.

  2. Oh hell, DD, where do I start? If only my brother hadn’t died. If only my inlaws hadn’t…. (you know the rest). If only my first miscarriage had not been. If only I didn’t have these stupid crazy allergic reactions to IF meds. If only….

    But if any of those “If Onlys” were true, my life would be very different than it is now. In some ways maybe better, in some ways possibly worse. And I’m not willing to trade the good things that have come out of bad circumstances (eg, my son) for the possibility of a different life.

    But I do think your situation is harder. You don’t have a different child because of an earlier “if only”- you just have an amazing appreciation for him because of all you’ve been through.

    This is so hard. I’m sorry you have to go through it.

  3. If only I had decided I wanted babies sooner…

    Mine is so general, I’m sure it hurts much less that your specific.

  4. Can I get back to you on that one? It’s making my head hurt. I think I have too many to choose one. What does that mean?

  5. If only I had made a different career choice when I went to college.

    Why do they put this important decision in the hands of 17 and 18 year old children?

  6. I try not to think about the lifetime of regrets. It would drive me mad.

    I like to try to keep a positive attitude. The operative word being “try”. Not that I’m all, “C’est la vie” and such, but you know, what’s done is done.
    We have a plaque hanging in the living room that reads, “We may not have it all together, but together, we have it all.”
    I try to go with that.

  7. If only my dad had not been an alcoholic. If only he had not passed out and left me in the care of his child molester friend when I was 5. If only…

  8. If only my Father didn’t die……………

  9. My “If Only” is nowhere near as profound as yours.
    If only I had studied more in high school in order to get a scholarship (to balance out the financial aid I borrowed) and went to college (not just physically but mentally too) – I would’ve had my BA degree 5 years sooner and probably be more able to not have to live pay check to pay check.
    That goes hand in hand with being a saver instead of a spender.

  10. I try to live my life without regrets and also try to not play the “If only” game, but sometimes I do. I don’t believe that everything happens for a reason, rather that our inherent coping mechanisms drive us to see some good in a situation or else we may self implode. Getting to the point, I appreciate your statement about sneaking into X’s room to watch him sleep and knowing how much you appreciate him. I think if I would have gotten pregnant easily, I would not have realized how important being a parent really is.

    I guess if I am going to play the game, If only I would have taken the few classes I needed to and gone to medical school. I choose a career that would allow me to have a family and be parent, but at the rate I am going I would not have needed to make that decision back then.

  11. I have a lot of “if only” moments in my life. But the one that would have changed my life was the “if only” I hadn’t had this miscarriage or that miscarriage. I can’t even imagine how life would be right now with a 2 year old and a 6 month old. In some ways probably much harder but also much more joyful.

  12. My ‘if only’s are that my dear daughter Amaris had fallen in to the 75% and not received the gene that will kill her.
    And also if my sweet Sara had been given the chance to live, instead of being stillborn.
    Two ‘if only’s are ok, right?

  13. You’re right. Those are some sad words when strung together.

    If only I hadn’t dated for so many years, wasting years I didn’t have to waste. If only I hadn’t waited so long to get married. If only I had thought to take some precautions to preserve things before my clock ran out on me, too early, and unexpectedly. If only my husband had understood me better and supported me more the way I needed him to when I learned of this horrible news…If only I could get my mind around the other options, if only genetics and preserving the line were not so utterly important to me, if only I could “settle” for becoming a parent another way…

    I agree with an earlier comment. I don’t believe all things happen for a reason. Some of us just have rotten bad luck.

  14. It’s too painful for me to think of my biggest “if only”. I’m so sorry that you have that one, instead of the beautiful family of four that you want so much.

  15. I was writing a very profound post about ‘if only’s’ and how one deals with it.

    And then I deleted it because I realised that I’m just bloody lucky to have children and didn’t have to suffer miscarriages.

    My ‘if only’s’ are too insignificant.

  16. That was a lovely post to read, very philosophical.

    If only’s are disappointing in the long run because what we don’t have is all the more painful. What we do have is as you say, worth lingering over and appreciating and marveling at! The more I do that the more happy and fulfilled I feel because we are lucky to have just the one we have even if we never have another again.

    Its normal to miss those no longer with us, but I just imagine them somewhere better than this world and I feel happy for them! I’m sure they are all in the best place possible for them and that they miss us as much as we miss them!

  17. My moment would probably be deciding to get into a relationship with a certain man back in college. Looking back hurts.

  18. If only I had met D sooner my dad would have walked me down the aisle.

    I know it’s not rational but that’s my biggest regret is that my dad didn’t walk me down the aisle and that he won’t be there for the birth of my children. Both of those things are something I always dreamed of and wanted… for him and for me. D knows this and fortunately he loved my dad just as much as I did – because he feels the same way.

    Unfortunately every holiday, every special event, every phone conversation with my mom reminds me that he’s not there…

    Sending lots of love your way…

  19. This is a beautiful post DD.

  20. Wow, that’s pretty deep. Yes, everyone has their “If Only” moments. Many throughout life I’m sure. Some are for the better, many seem to be for the worse, most depend on how you look at them.

    IF ONLY my parents hadn’t abandoned me at the train station in Seoul. I’d have never been adopted. BUT I’d have never been offered the opportunities that I have here in America either. I’ve heard of real life over there…and it can be terrible.

    IF ONLY my adoptive mother hadn’t been verbally abusive…I wouldn’t be the emotional wreck I am today. BUT then I may never have developed the empathetic capacity that I have today.

    IF ONLY my adoptive mother hadn’t passed away when I was in high school. My Dad and brother probably wouldn’t be alienated from me. BUT I would never have married the husband I have and had my children whom are most precious to me.

    So..IF ONLY moments can be good or bad. Perhaps many have silver linings but we cannot see them until much later in life.

    You do have beautiful ideas DD. 🙂

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