Having a baby after losing a baby is tricky. Honestly Thatcher’s birth was SO HEALING and it got even better from there, the last ten months have been an absolute joy- by far my best “mental” post partum recovery, so much joy and happiness. All the normal stuff like exhaustion and frustration at times, the worry about spending time with my big kids, keeping the house going, etc. But so much happiness! A sort of happy I didn’t know I could ever feel again. I’ve said before that Thatcher didn’t replace Max, no baby could, but he patched up my heart, sewed pieces back together.
But I feel Max “missing” from our family a lot. Sometimes I count kids in the car and I come up one short. Or look at our family picture and just looks “off” to me! I know Thatcher so well after spending months and months together, it reminds me how little I got to know Max. That sucks. This week I went though the next “size up” bucket of boy clothes for Thatcher, he is getting too long for his jammies… All the cute clothes in that bucket were Linc’s and they have little memories that come with them and I love that I finally get to use a set of clothes more than once.
I still hesitate when people ask how many kids I have. Always awkward for me. Or someone at swim team a couple weeks ago told me how smart I was to have such a gap between my boys. That must be great they said! They didn’t mean anything by it, but it was like ugh yeahhhhh it actually wasn’t great, totally not planned. Wish there wasn’t such a gap here. Half smile. Will I have these weird moments forever! I’m sure it’s mostly in my head and no one else notices but it makes me anxious.
We haven’t been to Max’s park in ages. Usually we decorate his grave for memorial day and for the fourth of july, but we didn’t make it for either holiday. And then why do I feel guilty about that? Isn’t that silly? I have mom guilt for not spending time with a baby who is literally not on this earth.
Today Thatcher was crawling around all over the house- he is so fast- I turn for a second and he is in a different room. He crawled into his room and found some toys on the floor- I went in to see what he was doing and he was just SMILING. Like not at me in particular just sitting there smiling! And I was so overwhelmed with how great this baby is- here he was crawling around the floor in his own room where he sleeps in his own crib. A real baby that I grew and birthed and have fed for ten months. Just for a sec I let myself think about what it would be like to have a little twin bed jammed in that room, to have Max sharing with him, for him to be toddling around getting into things too. When you lose a baby, you lose all the things that come with that. The crawling stage, those big smiles, feeding them and changing them, rocking them to sleep. Babies grow and they get more and more fun and sometimes that is a hard reminder of the things I missed with Max.. those things become more apparent the older Thatcher gets.. the more fun things he learns to do. I stood in the doorway and watched Thatcher play and thought about Max and sometimes I just have to say out loud I MISS YOU MAX. I WISH YOU WERE HERE. Be near me! Be with us! Don’t ever be too far from me! Stay close!
It’s still a wavy, day-to-day process for me, learning to cope without him. But I do have four kids. My daughter is 7, my son is 5. We have a ten month old baby and another sweet boy in heaven. He would be three. He would be learning to swim this year…probably hating the lessons like all of my kids have. He would be fighting his afternoon nap. Maybe I would lay with him until he was asleep. I might complain about the hassle but secretly enjoy the snuggles. He would be talking and loving cars and airplanes and balls. He might have cute nicknames for his sister and his brother. I would know all of this favorite things, how he likes his lunch prepared and which cup is his favorite.
Someday I WILL know all of those things. And that one little thought alone powers me through the saddest days that I have! Those moments aren’t gone for me, and I know that. Nothing from Max is lost when I watch Thatcher learn new things, as his personality develop… The sadness I feel for Max doesn’t detract from the happiness that my other kids bring. Finding the balance… that’s the trick.