Wake up to a crying toddler.

Hit my husband to send him to comfort the toddler.

Check the heartbeat monitor on the baby.

Scoot closer to the baby’s crib to see nothing randomly fell in.

Go back to sleep for a few minutes.

Wake up again to nurse the baby.

Think about how much this baby looks like my baby who died.

Think about how I never got to nurse my baby who died.

Close my eyes to keep the tears from rolling.

Mentally check out.

Feel guilty for checking out and start singing to the baby.

Morning routines – breakfast, getting dressed, teeth brushing, packing for day care – go, go, go.

Load the car.

Think about how different it would be with three car seats.

Drop off the baby and the toddler at day care.

It’s hard to leave – try not to panic. Try not to imagine all the things that could go wrong.

Imagine what would happen if SIDS struck anyway.

Mentally check out.

Try to focus on work.

Get lost looking at my pictures of my baby who died. Look at his hair, his wrinkles, his eyes.

Wish I could snuggle him.

Regret not memorizing every line and spot.

Tell myself that’s a silly standard to hold myself to – I did the best I could.

Change my computer desktop back to plain blue because I have a meeting with new people. I want to avoid comments or questions.

Change it back when I’m alone again.

Notice my memorial tattoo. Run my finger over it.

Pull my sleeve down so others don’t ask about it while I’m trying to focus.

Lunchtime. Check social media, see new stories of baby loss, child loss, spouse loss, parent loss, all kinds of loss. Decide whether to comment – balancing my desire to support with self-care.

Make small talk.

Do I say something when someone comments about the second child being easier? Do I correct her that this is my third?

Think ahead what to say when I meet someone new and they ask about kids.

Say that I just returned from “leave” instead of specifying “maternity leave” – on the chance it avoids congratulations or personal questions.

Go back to day care to pick up the toddler and the baby.

Ask them how their day went, think about how a boy one year older would answer.

Get home – dishes, diapers, dinner – go, go, go.

Turn on the light in the memorial curio cabinet.

Try not to get too upset when the toddler keeps turning it off.

Bedtime – try to pick stories that are about my son, or loss, or death. I want my living children to know and understand their brother existed.

Try not to get flustered when toddler screams to pick different stories.

Feel guilt about my baby who died casting too large of a shadow over how I raise my living children.

Feel guilt about not including my baby who died enough in our day-to-day lives.

Feel resentment that I think any of these things. It’s not fair that my baby died. It’s not fair that my son died. It’s not fair to my living children that their sibling died.

Feel grief that my baby’s life was so short that he is almost completely defined by his relationship to others.

He should have had his own life, his own choices. His own dreams. His own silly habits. His own first word. His own favorite book.

Back to reading. Try to snuggle with the toddler, who is having none of it.

Put the toddler to bed, put the baby to bed.

Finish mandatory chores, maybe pick up a little. Sit down.

Feel guilt for not doing something specific for my baby who died.

Think about sleeping with his blanket again, but decide against it in case the baby has trouble sleeping and I need to cuddle her.

Listen to my husband turn off the light in the memorial curio cabinet.

Bite back tears. Wonder if I should start an emotional conversation so late.

Go to bed. Think about how full and empty my heart is. Hope it isn’t impacting my living loved ones too negatively. Scared it is.

Tell my husband I miss our boy. Listen to him tell me he misses him too.

Feel the heavy weight on my chest.

Check the monitor on the baby.

Almost fall asleep.

Check the monitor again.

Fall asleep.

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