Why Life Should Come with Warning Labels

AUTHOR: | POSTED: February 4, 2014 | COMMENTS: None Yet - Post a Comment
CATEGORIES: 1015 The River, Authentic Life, Blogging Honestly, Glass City Parent,

Carolyn Savage

I finished a book last week.

That, my friends, is a small miracle because time to read around here is scant.  But, as luck would have it, my sweet husband surprised me this past Christmas with a 48 hour get away from our kids which made way for some light reading.  Except this was far from light reading…for me anyways.

I’ve decided that certain things in life should come with customized warnings—private heads up messages that are specific to each of us and the baggage we carry.

For instance, in December 2006 Sean and I innocently took the boys to the movie, Santa Claus 2.  We’d seen the first one and loved it, so when the sequel came out we couldn’t get our sons to the theater fast enough.  I remember readying the boys with popcorn and smuggled candy and being excited as the lights went down.  Movies always provide such an escape from reality and after having just suffered an early second trimester miscarriage after our first IVF (and after nine years of trying to get pregnant) I needed a reprieve from my grief.  A comedic Christmas movie was just what the doctor ordered…until we realized the premise of the movie was that Mrs. Claus was pregnant, and Tim Allen (aka Santa) had to do some fancy maneuvering to save Christmas and bring his new baby into the world without unfortunate incident.  I’ll never forget Sean looking at me—in horror— as the plot started to unfold.  He didn’t need to apologize for taking me to a movie about a pregnant woman, but he did…about every five minutes during the movie.

Yup…could’ve used a special warning for that.  It would’ve read, “This is a great family movie…UNLESS …You’ve been suffereing from secondary infertility for nine years, have suffered three miscarriages, just paid for your first IVF and gotten a positive pregnancy test only to have the rug pulled out from under you when you discovered your baby had no heartbeat at a routine 14 week ultrasound.  IF that just happened…avoid this movie.

Turns out I could’ve used a warning for the book I decided to read for our get away as well.

Warning…Spolier Alert… If you have plans to read, “The Light Between Oceans” by M.L. Stedman stop reading now.  I’m about to blow the entire plot for you.

“The Light Between Oceans” in a nutshell, is about a woman, Isabel,  who has suffered two miscarriages and one stillbirth.  While consumed in grief she finds an orphaned baby girl.  Having good reason to believe the child has no surviving family, she decides to claim the child as her own (she convinces her husband to go along with her plan) and they allow their family and friends to think the baby is actually their biological child.  Fast forward two years when they learn their daughter  actually has a mother who is devastated over the loss.  One thing leads to another and when the little girl is four years old the jig is up, and the child is returned to her rightful family.

Excellent plot for a book?  You bet.  One that should come with a special warning label for me?

Hell yes…and it would read, “Compelling and beautifully crafted must-read novel.  UNLESS…After years of infertility and pregnancy loss you accidentally get pregnant with the wrong baby after a fertility lab screw up, and because you’re a mom you decide to protect the pregnancy and reunite your unborn child with his/her rightful family upon delivery even though every ounce of your being falls in love with your unborn child leaving you with all kinds of pride in what you did but also haunting you with what-ifs from sunrise until sunset every.single.day for the rest of your life.  If that has happened to you…you probably shouldn’t read this book.” 


I know.  Kind of long for a warning label but what are the odds that this author would write a book that scratched at so many of my peronal and slow-to-heal wounds?  While I was reading it I was mentally screaming, “This book is titled, ‘The Light Between Oceans’ dammit.  It’s supposed to be about lighthouses and oceans and ships getting lost…and oceans.  What the hell?!”

When Isabel finally lost her daughter and lived out the rest of her life without so much as a mere conversation with the child, I sobbed.  Big, wet, crocodile tears of fear and loss…all while sitting at a swanky pool in South Beach.

Thank goodness for sunglasses.

I don’t  think a piece of literature has ever frustrated me more.  Why?  Well, it seemed to me that both of the mothers were so wrapped up in their own grief over what they’d lost that they couldn’t see the solution that was obvious to me.

Love this child enough to share her.

Have enough compassion for one another’s pain and share her.

Suppress your personal need to restore what you feel you’ve been cheated out of and share her.

You both can love her.

She can love both of you.

Sharing the child would’ve been such a gift.  Both mothers could’ve learned to accept and appreciate each other’s roles in the life of their daughter.  And their daughter would have been given a great gift.  The love of one mother is powerful, but the love of two mothers?  Well…a child loved by two mothers would be beyond lucky.  Right?

But it didn’t happen.  Doors were shut, walls were bricked and one mother was sentenced to a lifetime of worrying, wondering and being haunted by what-ifs.

Did I mention I was sobbing poolside after finishing this book?

It seemed that the author wanted to write a book where the reader couldn’t have it both ways.  One mother’s happy ending was the other’s life sentence.  That made me sad because every day I’m fighting for a happy ending, and I know I’m making progress.  Long gone are the days of waking up to the sucker punch of my personal reality.  I get out of bed happy now.  And each night when I teeter at the edge of consiousness I don’t find myself begging for the impossible.  I haven’t bargained with God to get my baby back in a very long time.

That’s progress.

But it would be dishonest of me to say that my thoughts aren’t still occasionally riddled with “what ifs” and “why nots“?  It’s the “why nots‘ that still trouble me the most.

All of us have stories that are unique.  Some have faced challenges.  Others have experienced loss that would slay most of us in seconds. After reading Stedman’s book I feel even more compelled to try and craft a way for everyone in my story to win.  I truly want it both ways.  I hope I figure it out…one way or another.

In the meantime, warning labels would be much appreciated.


From our weekend…


It was cloudy when we arrived on Thursday afternoon...but it was 68 degrees.  No problem.

It was cloudy when we arrived on Thursday afternoon…but it was 68 degrees. No problem.

These throw pillows were on our bed in our hotel room.  Perfection.

These throw pillows were on our bed in our hotel room. Perfection.

Leaving on Saturday afternoon.  Quick trip...stellar results.

Leaving on Saturday afternoon. Quick trip…stellar results.

Most of us are about to get pummeled with another crazy snowstorm tonight and tomorrow.  Stay safe, friends.  Stay safe.






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