Recently I was beyond blessed to give birth to not just one, but two perfect little boys. It was an experience that I wasn’t sure I would ever have again and I will forever be grateful for. My kids are the absolute loves of my life, they’re amazing. All of them. While people may see me as a boy Mom with her arms full having a son who is two and my twin boys here on earth, they aren’t my only children. I also have a daughter in heaven.
My Emma Rose was only 23 days old when she passed away in our arms and the day after we buried her we brought her twin brother, our son Alex home from the NICU. After we lost Emma, we went through two more miscarriages on our journey to expand our family. I honestly thought we would never bring home another baby, that Alex would grow up without the siblings here on earth I so hoped we could give him. Then finally, we found out we were expecting Cameron and Christian and the pregnancy continued. Month after month my anxiety increased wondering if they would in fact come home with us. I went to doctor’s appointments, specialist appointments, neonatal cardiology appointments after finding out Cameron had a small issue, we got to the 31 week mark which was when Alex and Emma were born. Then 32, 33, and eventually at 35 weeks my boys were born. Immediately I had to check to make sure they were ok, I cried tears of joy and of grief for what was and what would never be. I clung to them until they were taken to the NICU and thanked God for their existence.
The comments immediately started. The awkward conversations where people called me a boy mom, said that I was so blessed to have three children. There were many people who still honored Emma and remembered that she, like Alex was now a big sibling as well. But still, the times she was overlooked it stung.
I think some people expected that now, after all we’ve been through, having had twins again and being blessed enough to have brought them home, that maybe we would let go of our grief. That we would push it to the side and focus on being the parents to three boys. But it doesn’t work that way.
We love our boys, oh my word do we love them. There’s days when I truly think that there is no one in the world who could have as much love in their heart as I do for my kids. Days where I’m surprised that my heart hasn’t exploded with the love I have for them. But I have that love for my daughter too. Even though she’s up in heaven and her brothers are now older than she ever was able to be on earth, and that will never change.
Just because you have a child after loss it doesn’t negate the child or children you’ve lost. Your heart simply grows to include all your babies, just as it does for any additional children. It doesn’t make you forget about your child, your grief, the pain of not having that child in your arms. It isn’t a way to move on or to move past your loss. You are simply expanding your family just as many people do and making room for more love in your heart.
I still honor my daughter, miss her, wish that she was here with us. I’ll still celebrate her on her birthday, the anniversary of when she passed away, my heart will ache on holidays, milestones, the first day of when she should be starting kindergarten. I’ll still talk about her, keep her pictures up around our house, support loss families in memory of her. I’ll continue talking about her to her twin brother, tell her little brothers all about her, tell strangers when they ask how many children I have that she existed. I include her in the number of children I have, because she is my child. When asked about my twins I do in fact tell people that I have two sets, but that my twin daughter passed away.
Emma isn’t going anywhere. The memory of her, the fact that I held her, sang to her, read to her, loved on her, it hasn’t been erased from my mind or my heart just because our family grew by four feet. The pain and heartache are still there, although not as harsh as it was in the beginning.
All of my children have brought me such joy. They have each made me a better person and have taught me more about myself than I ever thought possible. They each have deeply impacted my life and continue to on a daily basis. But no, my living children do not and will not ever replace or make up for the loss of my daughter. It’s not humanly possible, nor would I ever want that. What a sad, sad world we would be living in if we could just forget or move past a child we carried for so long and loved for every second they were with us and beyond.
So please, if you know of someone expecting a child after loss, don’t expect them to have healed because of their new child. While that baby may help mend their heart as mine did, he or she will never replace the child they lost. They can’t. The length of a life doesn’t impact the love we have. We simply had less time with our children, not less love for them. They are still and always will be a part of our hearts, our stories, and our lives.