We always dreamed of having lots of kids. A room full of babies, we said. (Clearly way before we knew what having any number of babies entailed.) Even before getting pregnant with Luna we knew she wouldn’t be our youngest child.
But Luna lived only inside me. She is our third child, our only daughter. She has her space, a large gap in our kid’s ages (when another one hopefully comes), she is our baby, the one we whisper to, the one all those songs and artwork is about.
Her space is not in our arms, nursing at my breast, cuddled by us on our family bed… and I still want that, yearn, viscerally, for a warm, live, little baby. I want Luna as Luna and I want a baby to nurse and cuddle and breath next to. I want those two separate children.
As I sit here, days after Luna’s first birthday, I am a twisted knot of colored yarn. They are the colors of dreams and hope, of fervently hoping, tangled up with fear and loneliness and hubris.
Moms always speak of fear in relation to a pregnancy after loss. I always assumed they meant fear that another baby would also die. Fear that their hearts would eventually just up and break from losing more babies. In my hubris, on the one hand I do still hang on to the notion that lightening could not possibly strike twice (which, obviously, I know it does and can and could). I also feel that I accepted Luna’s life for what it was, regardless of my hopes. And, most days, I see her little life as the greatest gift. I am so grateful I got to have her, for as short a time as it was. Her life, having to let her go – it didn’t break me. It made me love more, live better. Be a better version of me. Even on the days that her absence scratches my heart out, I am still unbroken, even if it’s just unbroken enough to writhe in sad loneliness for my girl. In my naïve hubris, I am not scared enough to think that death can break my spirit. I really do hope, though, that Life doesn’t need to knock me off my feet and put me in my place… naïve, but with fingers tightly crossed.
What I fear most is the feeling that I might be replacing my girl. As if another baby would somehow erase what is left of Luna, that shadowy feeling of love and belonging. That her place in our family will slowly effervesce into forgetfulness. That I would be so busy with three live kids running around, peeing on things and eating dirt (my kids are rascals) to remember about my beautiful girl that whispers in rainbows and bright pink sunsets. I’m scared I will sit on a chair one day, when my live kids are up and grown, and I will remember the little baby girl I hadn’t thought of in so long. I guess I’m scared that if there is new life begging for my attention, that minute to minute presence newborns demand, that there will be no more room for crafts and poems and birthday celebrations of quiet days and memorial bonfires and brownies with one single candle that we all blow out together.
Luna was the last little person to grow inside me. My uterus was her only home, the one place where she was alive. I’m scared a new baby will change that. I’m scared to open up my uterus for new life to begin. Like when you drive by your childhood house and the new tenants have changed it so much you hardly recognize it, and sadly wonder how they could have possibly done away with the joy of your childhood. As if a new baby could do away with the sacredness of Luna.
These are the things I’m scared of. And some people preach of “letting go”. But my daughter died, how much more can I possibly let go of her?
I guess it’s normal…most of us moms have these fears when we decide to have a second child (both live children). Are we good enough moms to have two? Will the baby take much needed attention away from the older child? What if they both need me at once, how can I be there for both of them at the same time? How can I possibly nurse while I read a story while I cook lunch?
There is no answer, I don’t think. Somehow, we can do it; we do it every day all over the world. Because mostly, I think, we just jump in blind, hoping we will be able to mother all our babies well enough. Trusting that even though there might not be enough time in the day, there is enough love, enough space in our lives, for all of them.
Maybe the same goes for our children who have died.
I certainly hope so.
Here’s to jumping in blind…