The middle child

I clung to a lot of milestones after losing Genevieve. When we picked up her urn from the funeral home, I would feel better, I thought. I did not. When we passed her official due date, I would feel better. Not so much. When we turned the calendar over to 2012, I would feel better. I did, at least a bit. When we passed her first birthday, I would feel better. I did, though not completely.

I thought that each of these steps would bring a monumental shift in my emotions, that I might eventually be cured of my sadness. With time, I learned that the passing of a day might bring small relief or fresh hope, but I would never be cured. Still, I really looked forward to the final step on the journey, the one that I had scrawled into my journal when I was still buried in grief: bring home a healthy baby.

I was euphoric after Henry’s birth, and I am still in awe that we got him out alive. As time passes though, I’m returning to a more normal level of happiness. I still miss Genevieve, and it’s more difficult now to figure out how to carry that sadness. Her death is bookended by two happy births. I almost feel guilty for missing her. Isn’t this the part where I’m supposed to be happy every day for the rest of my life? I don’t know why I care what other people think, but I worry that others will think that Henry’s birth somehow erases what came before.

I have a necklace with a charm for each of the kids, and when I was out shopping, a woman complimented me on it. “Wow, three kids,” she said. She sounded surprised that I had the time to get out and buy makeup. If only I were that busy.

I remember that after having Genevieve, I told Greg I wanted to have four babies, five babies, as many babies as I could have. Surely that would make me feel better. I know now that it wouldn’t. And I don’t want to be cured anyway. I will always wish that Genevieve were here, but I’m done wishing away the sadness. The missing is how I keep her with me.

The kids together

4 thoughts on “The middle child

  1. Maybe there is a stage of grieving beyond where you are right now, but if there is I don’t know about it. I think this recognition that the sadness is how Genevieve will stay with you, and that it doesn’t negate your joy in the life you do have, it simply tints it a different, deeper color, is what living with such a fundamental loss is about.

  2. I could’ve written the exact same last three paragraphs. I also have an older living daughter, a baby son, and a middle daughter who was stillborn, who is bookended and disappeared by her two siblings. My son is almost a year old and I remember so well the incredible euphoria and relief after his birth – it lasted for several months and there was a strange sort of settling in, a slight deflating, after it passed. And the sadness: it was still there amidst the euphoria and it is still here now, and like you say, I don’t wish it away: it’s how we keep her with us.

  3. I enjoy reading your poignant blog posts, and though I have never endured the loss of a child, I think that your growth and insights, not to mention your willingness to share throughout your grief process, are an inspiration to many. And I know that Genevieve will always be with your family, in every moment, good or bad, whether she happens to be at the forefront of your mind at a given moment or not. She knows she is loved and is loving you just as much. Emotions are a complicated thing, and she understands because she’s in a place of ultimate understanding.

  4. This, every word of it. I don’t want people to think having a healthy baby boy makes Amy less, and the truth is that while it sure does help, the grief isn’t less it’s just..different. Something we’ve learned to live with. I used to think if I had another little girl, it would be better, the missing her, but I’ve finally realized it wouldn’t. She’s still not here.

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