There are many surprises along the path of grief. Since the unimaginably awful day we lost a pregnancy late in the second trimester, I'm often caught off guard by the events and moments that bring a flood of pain. Like my birthday. I didn't expect to feel leveled by the realization that life moves on, even if my heart and mind cannot. Similarly to how grieving is an unpredictable experience you can never truly prepare yourself for, so too has been welcoming a newborn baby after loss.
That peace I'd imagined tucking into? It doesn't exist. Instead, I feel even more tortured by what we lost.
Up until the birth, I believed that when I was finally holding my rainbow baby, I would find peace with losing our daughter. I'd be able to make sense of what happened and things would come full circle. Not that I expect to ever get over our loss completely, but as we geared up for the birth of our son, I hoped I'd feel some relief from the agony I have lived with this entire time.
And when, at long last, I was cuddled up to my sweet boy in the delivery room, there was indeed so much love there. I felt happier than I had in so long. But that peace I'd imagined tucking into? It doesn't exist. Instead, I feel even more tortured by what we lost. It's devastating to look at my son and see how much joy he brings and know we never got to experience this with our daughter.
I long more than ever to give my daughter what we give him: love and care, every single day. I come to an even deeper realization of what we lost each time I feed my newborn, put him down for a nap, see his face, feel his skin against mine, smell his delicious newborn smell, pick out his outfit, change his diaper, or receive a baby gift. She should be here, too, but she's not.
At the same time, welcoming a child after such a devastating loss has helped me find a sense of gratitude I didn't know was possible. In the middle of the night, when my baby cries out again, when I have to get up again, when I'm exhausted and groggily reaching into his bassinet, I feel so damn lucky to be that tired and that needed. These are the moments that were ripped away from me when we said goodbye to our angel. Even diaper explosions and spit-up on my newly clean clothes can't get me down. I recognize that I get to have poop and baby puke on me. I am lucky enough to wake up with my son, instead of longing to hear his cries or hold him close to me.
That's the incredible gift my angel baby has given me; an appreciation for everyday moments with her brother I would have otherwise let pass me by. There's a beauty in that that I'm grateful for all the time . . . even as I continue to grapple with accepting the loss; even as my daughter's absence pains me on a deeper level than before our son was born. There's no finding peace, there's just learning to love and appreciate what you have. And that's my beautiful baby boy.