May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again, May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
-Irish Blessing

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Molding the Clay

Exhaustion, two successive pregnancies, four living children and the grief for two children living only in my memories has colored my recent days.  Some days  I wonder if my poorly managed days are because I didn't allow space in my life.  More space for anger, sadness, tears, joy to intervene before becoming pregnant again.  Some days I wonder if it is just my precious baby girl who is less demanding than our first but much more so than the other two.  Is it wrong to tell her that since she's our number four daughter she is just not allowed to be demanding?  Clearly, the natural order of things is allowing her to be queen bee at her ripe old age of four months which is displeasing most members of the household much of the time.  I don't know children without grief so I really don't have these answers.  I raised my first living child fraught with fear that she would die before the day she was born and while that fear has loosened its grip over time and through experience, it has not let me go.  Nor my children, apparently.  It was just a year ago March when they welcomed and said goodbye to the only baby brother they have known, Eli.  They were ages 6 (almost 7), 5 and 3 at the time yet that day and all that followed have stayed with them.  Our hairstylist recently had a baby boy and while eating one night we were discussing the girls' upcoming haircut with her (while she was still pregnant).  Our oldest was asking a question about her and the baby and phrased it in terms of "if her baby doesn't die".  Just.  Like.  That.  It was matter of fact to her that her baby could and very well may die.  Not the most uplifting dinner conversation.  It required an explanation again that most babies don't die.  Except in our little family where there is a great risk of babies dying.  We also informed the girls that it's best not to say things like that to other people.  Then there was yesterday when the girls inadvertently explained to me why they may be clamoring so eagerly, to the point of arguments and fights often, for the chance to hold their baby sister.  While chatting about babies they were lamenting how they barely had a chance to hold Eli after he was born and how they are glad to have our newest little girl.  The ability of children to absorb and incorporate experiences and emotions into their being should never be underestimated.  They can be so amazing.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Rainbow Connection

This post is about what happens after my rainbow baby is born (rainbow baby for those unfamiliar is a  child born after a storm, in this case the storm which was Wyatt and Eli's birth and death) and what I have imagined would happen after my rainbow baby is born.   Mostly it will relate to our first rainbow, our first daughter, born just one year and four days after her big brother Wyatt's birth and death.

I spent nine long months pregnant with her imagining what it would be like to again hold a child of mine in my arms.  I imagined all of the late night snuggles that I had missed out on and the sweet coos that never graced my ears.  In my mind it was smiles, hugs and kisses.  It almost made the waiting unbearable.  And for the first few days it was smiles, hugs and kisses.  Then I took my baby girl home and reality set in, a reality which had not even cracked the outer edges of my imagination.  My little girl was fussy, only slept when laying on me or my husband (which may sound really awesome but it awful when you need to eat, drink, go to the bathroom or goodness forbid - shower, and then you must listen to your baby's awful screams for every second of your absence), she projectile vomited and was not a natural by any stretch of the imagination at breastfeeding.  There was a lot of physical and mental pain in those early days.

Pain which was only compounded by all those months of imagining what it would be like and then having it actually be nothing like that.  Now, in all fairness our oldest daughter was a pretty high needs baby and from what I later discovered by having other children she was not a typical baby.  Nonetheless, I know I am not alone with my imagination.  How could it be helped?  Many of our memories of our babies gone too soon are faces that are stilled, voices that are silenced.  My little boys never screamed, nursed or even wet a diaper.  My memories of them are gentle, much like falling asleep.

However, I've found that the reality of a rainbow baby is like being struck by a semi truck.  Life changes, it actually becomes about life, not death, and how to sustain and nurture that life while trying to maintain one's own delicate balance.  It's a celebration and a grieving simultaneously.  Gratitude for what has been given and a greater appreciation for what has been taken away.  No one said it would be easy but for some reason it's so easy to imagine...


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