Category Archives: Grief

One day for remembering

Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. This one day seems so small in the face of what it is recognizing, but it is something, at least.

Greg and I went on a date a few days ago, and we were having a discussion about finding purpose in life, and a minute later I was crying over my pumpkin ravioli. I will spend every single day missing my daughter. And even though I’ve lived with that for more than three years, I still have moments where I’m not sure how to keep living with it.

Most of my hours are filled with chaos, joy, messes, reprimands. My life looks, and feels, mostly normal. But when we gather with all of the families in our neighborhood, and I see that gaggle of 3- and 4-year-olds (We are literally the only family without a preschooler.), I wonder who Genevieve would be chasing. Am I the only one remembering?

If you remember, light a candle tonight. And thank you.

Family of five minus one

We’ve been giving away Henry’s baby clothes as he has outgrown them, and soon we will have to decide what to do with the bouncer and baby toys. Most of our friends are done having babies, and they seem certain of their choice. I envy them.

When I was pregnant with Genevieve, I proclaimed to anyone who would listen that I was done having babies. Two was perfect. I could not possibly endure another round of nausea and backaches. Plus, Greg had decided after Eleanor’s arrival that he was happy with one. With some nudging from me, he agreed that a second was good, but I knew we were done after that. I am a very grumpy pregnant lady.

My experience with Genevieve rewrote my notion of what I could and could not survive. Turns out that I could get through another pregnancy, and a terrifying one at that. Not once during my pregnancy with Henry did I declare him my last baby. That seemed like a tempting of fate, and further, I had no idea how I would feel after having him.

In the first few months that Henry was home, Eleanor talked a lot about how life would be when we had the next baby. She doted on Henry but also was clear that she wanted a sister. This only reinforced my desire for her to have a living (Do I even need to say it?) sister.

I know many women who are close to their sisters. I know men who are close to their brothers. I don’t know any brothers and sisters who are very close. While I would be happy to give Henry a brother, it’s seeing young sisters together that stings. On a side note, I would love for “Frozen” to disappear even though Eleanor adores it. Darn movie makes me cry every time. Somehow I doubt those Disney executives considered the little girls in the audience who have sisters that have actually died.

I’ve heard women say that they knew their family was complete when they looked around the kitchen table and felt that everyone was there. I’m never going to have that. A lot of families don’t, either because of infertility or a child lost along the way.

But, there are a dozen reasons for us to be done having babies. I’d rather not deal with infertility again. We have a good balance of work and play right now. We have some hope of saving enough to pay for college. Maternity clothes are awful, and I’d like that closet space back. But most of all, I want to be present for these two kids. I’ve spent most of Eleanor’s life either pregnant or grieving. It is good to have a spontaneous game of tag, to draw a rainbow rather than a storm cloud with the sidewalk chalk, to give her my full attention. She needs a happy, healthy mom more than she needs a sister. And someday, I think, she will understand.

The kids

(Please pardon my naked Texan baby. It’s still summer here!)

Three years

Tomorrow should be Genevieve’s third birthday.

This was the year that I finally accepted her death. It’s not that I actively mourned her for two years, but there was this molten fork in the road of my life, a wavering, uncertain thing. Nothing of major importance had happened to me since her death, and I still dreamed that time would rewind and put me on that other path.

With Henry’s birth, that fork in the road set. We probably wouldn’t have had another baby had Genevieve lived, and even if we had, the timing might have been different. Henry in no way replaces his sister, but he keeps me rooted — happily — in the present.

The knowledge that his birth provided also healed a lot of the anger I carried. I had always felt that Genevieve’s life could have been saved with better medical care. In my pregnancy with Henry, I found the best, most watchful doctors that I could, and still they spent more than an hour debating whether to deliver him early — even with warning signs. He was only delivered early because of Genevieve. The sister who isn’t here saved his life, on the 15th of the month. Fifteen is the worst number. Fifteen is the best number.

I still imagine her there in the middle, consider where she would have been sitting during our family photos. A woman complimented us on our well-behaved children at a restaurant recently. I thought about how the crazy one wasn’t here. Genevieve kicked me far more than the other two did.

I thought I could cheat the grief this year. Last night I started looking at her photos, and that baby bed, that empty baby bed that sat next to my hospital bed for three days. Henry’s birth is fresh in my mind, and the juxtaposition between the bed with the squawking, mewing infant and the empty bed is too much. It is a leaden anchor at my waist.

I am happy nearly every day, without her. I will have a few days with tears for her, such a small thing to give.

Having her here would be best. Second-best is having her dad, sister, and brother to abide with me.

My three