Monday, October 08, 2007

The answer

Heather asked a good question in the comments yesterday: Will I always think of Thomas when I hold another newborn? Will time, and possibly another child of my own, ease that grief?

The answer is I just don't know. Time has already done incredible things for my soul. I'm so much more whole than I was for pretty much the entire first year after we lost Thomas, and despite the sorrow I write about here, my "real life" (the time I spent not blogging) is a pretty decent balance of hope and happiness, under the circumstances. Not just hope in terms of adding to our family, but hope in general. And I work very hard to wring as much happiness out of every day as I possibly can.

It may not appear as though I'm succeeding, but I really do try.

As far as holding new babies goes though, I think it will always remind me of holding Thomas, at least in some small way. I don't see how it can't. It's such a physical memory - the weight and warmth of a baby, the way your arms cradle it and protect it. The only way you can accurately conjure that up is to do it again - to hold another child. And since that doesn't happen all that often (even for the non-bereaved), the memory sneaks up on you. Your body forgets until it feels it all over again.

You can think you haven't forgotten the feeling of riding a bike, but it's only once you actually hop up onto the seat that you say, "Ah yes, now I remember."

I've heard a million older women with someone else's newborn in their arms say, "Oh, this takes me back! I can remember when my daughter/son was this size". It's no different for me. Why should it be?

What is different is that instead of the memory taking me back to a sweet, happy time, it takes me back to the tiny vacant office/storage room where we took turns holding Thomas as waited for him to die. That was the first time I held my child.

The first baby I held after Thomas was the hardest, and that memory hit me like a ton of bricks. But now when I see a baby (any size baby) I crave that contact. Yeah, it hurts like a mother fucker, but it's impossible not to want to hold a tiny little thing in your arms and rock it to sleep. It feels like my arms were built for that and, having been robbed of the chance, can't resist filling themselves up with sleepy babies at every opportunity.

I hope that if we someday have another baby I won't sit and think about Thomas every time I hold that child - every time I look at him or her - but I know it will be impossible not to sometimes. I will be seeing and experiencing everything I missed with Thomas. I will know then, in a very tangible way, what up until that point I'd only been able to imagine we lost when we lost him.

But if we didn't love Thomas so much - if we didn't know that kind of love existed - we wouldn't be trying to hard to find it again. We wouldn't be risking so much sorrow and putting our hearts on the line over and over again to bring new love into our home.


Lori said...

"I've heard a million older women with someone else's newborn in their arms say, "Oh, this takes me back! I can remember when my daughter/son was this size". It's no different for me. Why should it be?"

It shouldn't be any different for you, Kristin. My youngest is nearly three and I've not had a chance to hold many babies since he was a baby. Just recently I got ahold of a friend's new baby and it took me straight back to when MY babies were that size.

Mothers will always remember holding their babies.


Kathy McC said...

It doesn't just stop at holding a baby. It is there in every ultrasound, every movement. I find that the hardest part is looking at my littlest boy and knowing that he wouldn't be here if my girls hadn't died. It's a bittersweet feeling that surfaces again and again. I always wonder what they would have been like...would they look like K, or develop the same way? Those are the questions that we can never have the chance to answer. I hope that the memories of holding Thomas that lurk in your mind are sweet, even if they were way too short...and that they aren't so hard that they bring you down as you hold your future bubs.

Sunny said...

Bless your heart. This post touched me to the core. I never held my baby but I imagined what it would have felt like. When I hold my friend's baby who was due the same week as I was, I think of my angel. It breaks my heart. That is what it would have felt like.

HUGS over and over again to you tonight.

Heather said...

You are really helping me to understand grief. I don't mean I "understand" understand...I definitely haven't walked in your shoes. But you give me great insight so that I can try to understand and not be such a jackass and say hurtful things.

Also, I didn't mean to imply that you aren't happy. I definitely recognize that people (me) use their blogs for certain emotions but that doesn't mean that is all that person is.

Bronwyn said...

This grief thing is a real bear. But as you mentioned, I guess the flipside is the incredible love we feel for our children, whether they are still with us or not.

I understand the ache of your empty arms; I hope they are filled soon.

niobe said...

This is the kind of post that makes me feel that other people have suffered losses that are so great and so painful that my own losses are small and pointless by comparison.

CappyPrincess said...

I don't think the ache ever totally goes away. Fifteen years later and I still ache to hold my first daughter. Generally it is more around the anniversary of her birth/death that the feelings are just so intense and close to the surface that it's impossible to hold back tears when I see or hold a new baby. (Older babies don't seem to set off the emotions as much any more).

I think there's something about the way we are wired as women - generally speaking. Our arms were created in such a way as to be able to cradle a baby and I think our body reacts accordingly when we see one - whether we've experienced loss or not.

Hang in there. The inbetween days are better for me now. Time is a healer.