Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Why I Cannot Join a Mom's Group: or why my summer off is causing anxiety.

I'm really lucky  (edit due to being unable to ever describe myself that way again) grateful to have my summers off.   I don't work in June and July.  In my previous life, when I was teacher in Colorado, I filled my summers with other jobs, but fun ones.  Leading adventure trips to San Diego and Mexico, working soccer camps, getting paid to run a slip and slide with a good friend on a hot afternoon.  Except for that one summer in grad school where I busted my ass with two internships, two classes, and my grad assistantship, I have had some damn good summers (and even that one was full of weekend adventures with Justin).

Since I moved back to Ohio, I have spent my summers:
1. painting and completing other various home-improvement projects to our new house
2. getting married and honeymooning (Yes, 1 & 2 happened in that order.  And it worked out just fine, thank you.)
3. traveling to Europe with my mom then hoping to get pregnant
4. hanging with Ben
5. hanging with Ben and my Lydie belly

And this sixth summer?  It will be more hanging out with Ben.  Without Lydie.

Usually, this time of year, I'm on countdown.  4 weeks to go.  I start to daydream about our mornings at story hours and our afternoons at the pool.

Now?  I'm excited to spend time with my boy.  I'm ready to have a break from my commute and the million emails and the many meetings and the phone calls with parents and even the students, who are the best part of my job.

But I'm nervous about the library and the pool.

I'm anxious about being around other moms.  I don't fit in anymore, though they wouldn't know it by looking at me.   I know it.  I feel it.

It would actually be easier to wear a scarlet A.  Or at least have those business cards that Elizabeth McCracken refers to, stating "my baby died." 

I can't do the often-complaining mom talk these days, about how tough breastfeeding is or potty-training or just about everything else.  I can't help thinking:  You know what's worse than that?  Not doing it.  Because my kid died.  I certainly can't talk to a mom who's wrangling her toddler while breastfeeding her baby.  I can't do it.  I can barely look at that mom.  I dread them making the assumption that Benjamin's my only child.  I can't quite tell them that actually, we have two, and the other's on the mantle at home. (And we so wish she was here with us, and I could complain about her).

I know our lives look normal from the outside.  But the inside?  Not normal.  Don't know how to be.  Don't know how to be around moms who don't know the truth about us. 

Which made me so appreciate this poem.   Stephanie's situation is different.  She's had her rainbow baby when she wrote this poem, and still doesn't feel like she fits.  Which reminds me that I'll never fit again.  Which is why it's such a comfort to be with my baby loss friends, where we don't have to do so much explaining and we can openly talk about all our children.

Why I Cannot Join a Mom's Group - by Stephanie Paige Cole

Surrounded by women
With children in their laps
On their laps
Circling their legs

I belong and I don't

I meet the criteria to be in this club
With a little one balanced on my hip
Playing with my hair

It is typical mom conversation
What foods have you introduced?
Is he sleeping through the night?
Anyone thinking about having a second?

That's not what's on my mind
There's a little girl laughing in the corner
She would be just her age

Now I am choking on thoughts
That I cannot turn into words
I will not allow myself to cry here

But I miss her I miss her I miss her

Talk only about the live one
You will alienate yourself
You will be the-woman-with-the-dead-baby
You will not make new friends

I repeat it until I accept it
I shut off what is real
I chat about teething
I go home and cry

Yes, he's sleeping through the night
He likes pears and advocados
And we're starting to think about having another
But that would be our third

And you don't realize how good you have it
There are worse things than sleepless nights
With cranky infants

There are sleepless nights alone

Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Trauma

For me, there's the grief, there's the uncertainty of the future, and there's the trauma.

PTSD is not just for war veterans.

It's also for mothers who think their babies are coming home in 5 short weeks, and instead hear silence on the Doppler.

I think many bereaved mothers would tell you that silence is the worst noise in the world.

I've been reliving that moment - that moment that nightmares are made of - for almost six months now.  To say it haunts me is an understatement.

I don't have control over when the image pops up.  I don't have the option to turn it off.

Several weeks ago, I started EMDR with my therapist.  EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing.  My therapist explained that we have two sides of our brain.  One side files memories away and we can retrieve those memories when we look for them.  The other side?  We don't get to control when those memories resurface.  She wanted to move this horrific memory into a file.

I figured it couldn't hurt to try.

The first week, we walked through about 36 hours, from driving to my doctor's appointment to leaving the hospital without Lydia.  I closed my eyes, pictured each scene, described it and my reactions and my emotions while holding buzzers in my hands.

There were the obvious moments to me, like the startling realization that I hadn't felt her move much and telling myself I was just being paranoid and babies settle in at the end (a fallacy, by the way).  Having to call my husband and tell him our daughter's heart had stopped beating and could he please come meet me?  Going home to this quiet house and the baby swing and staring at Justin and staring out the window and not knowing what the fuck to do.  There were a few surprises too, some things I have pushed down deeper, that choked me up to say out loud, like being startled by my phone suddenly ringing and feeling terrified to see it was Ben's school and being absolutely convinced that they were going to tell me that my son was dead too (turns out that he was constipated and they wanted to know if he could have juice).  How Justin hit a curb turning into the hospital parking lot and for a moment, I closed my eyes and hoped it would be a fatal accident.  Sitting at the front desk at the hospital to complete paperwork and seeing a bassinet sitting there.

I probably don't have to tell you that I was a mess.

The next week, we concentrated just on my most haunting moment: the silent Doppler.  For an hour, I sat with my eyes closed, picturing that scene, while my therapist tapped my knees.  It's like I was looking down on myself on the exam table.  We'd take a break where she'd ask me what emotions arose and how I was reacting.  I felt like there were two of me, the one frozen on the exam table, knowing deep down in my soul that the worst thing in the world has happened, but not yet able to comprehend it.  And then there's another of me, who leaps off the exam table, throws herself to the ground, and lets out the loudest wail.

My immediate gut reaction to the silent Doppler?  "You are so stupid."

The one my therapist is trying to replace that thought with?  "You did the best you could."

In this session, my thoughts were: "You are so stupid.  How could you let her die inside you?"  By the end of the appointment, my thoughts were starting to shift to: "You did the best you could.  You love your kids.  You are a good mom."

Later, my mom asked me if I wanted to talk about my EMDR experiences.  I responded, "Do I want to talk about how I spent hours reliving the worst moments of my life?  No, not particularly."  And then I started crying just thinking about it again.

It occurred to me that most people probably can't tell you what the worst moment of their lives are.  Ask them the best moments, and they'll spout off saying their vows, or hearing their babies' first cries.  But the worst moments?  That will probably give them pause.   But not me.  But my worst moment is forever engrained inside my head.  It follows me everywhere.  I live it everyday.  I live it again and again and again.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015


Dear Lydie,
One year ago, my life changed.  We learned you were on the way.

Your dad encouraged me to take a pregnancy test when my period was late.  I thought it was just that - my period was late.  I had only had one since Ben was born and I figured I wasn't regular yet.  Besides, I had just stopped breastfeeding him... on his first birthday... 11 days before.  I was ready for a break.

I did take a test a few days before April 15.  It was one left over from when I got pregnant with Ben.  The test came back telling me to read the directions.  (But I did!  And I never read directions!)  The period still didn't come, and I borrowed a couple of tests from my neighbor friend.

Your dad was running on the treadmill in the basement when I peed on the stick.  Well, that's not right.  I always pee in a cup and hold the sticks in the cup.  It is far less messy that way.

And I thought if I squinted a little bit, I could see a faint pink line.

I took the tests down the two flights of stairs to show your dad, and on the way, one of those tests flew out of my hands.  (I found it months and months later, when I had my big Lydie belly.  I laughed at the sight of it then).  I held out my hand and said, "I think there may be a line there."

Your dad almost fell off the treadmill.

That day, during busy moments, I'd forget about that pink line, and then it would hit me all over again, and I'd think "Holy shit!"

A couple of days later, I took yet another test and that second line was no longer faint.  It was dark.  You were real.

I wrote here how I was overwhelmed at first, calculating your due date (my poor Christmas baby) and the distance you'd be apart from your brother (only 20 months!).  Your dad and I love your brother, but he's never been easy and he's pretty exhausting.  I told myself we'd just lead crazy lives for a few years. 

A few weeks later, Ben donned his new "Big Brother" shirt to tell your Oma Jo and Pop-Pop and Aunt Laura (Uncle D had already caught on that I wasn't drinking).  A couple of days after that, we saw your little heart beating on the ultrasound. 

Later, when people asked if you were planned, which is a completely inappropriate and far too personal question, your dad answered, "It was on the early side of the plan."  You were on the early side, for sure.  But you were always part of the plan.

We've struggled to make new plans in these last 5 months.  We don't want new plans.  We just want you. 

We've struggled on what it means to be a family of four, but to the outside world, look like a family of three.  Sometimes I feel like we're finding our way.  We light your candle every evening and your big brother says "I love you, Lydie" (if his mouth isn't full).  Sometimes he needs some prompting from your dad and me, but the moments that melt my heart the most are when he says it on his own.  Later, he'll say it again, as he looks out his window, up at the sky, and says good night to you.  I'm not sure he knows what these rituals mean yet, but your dad and I do.  It means you're part of us, you're here with us in our hearts and you're always on our minds.  And we so wish things were different.

Some days I feel like I'm learning to accept that they'll never be.  That I'll always carry this grief, just like I carry this love for you.   That I'll always feel a deep longing that my life - that your life - turned out this way.

That I couldn't change it, that I couldn't fix it, that our love wasn't enough to keep you here.  That I could do everything right and things could still go so horribly wrong.

I know I'm finding myself bitter and resentful and angry.  I know that's not the person you'd want me to be.  I know that's not the legacy you want to leave behind.  I try to remind myself of that.

I hope I can claw my way out of those feelings and instead cling to the love I have for you.

I struggled with this concept in the beginning.  What was the point?  What was the point of carrying you for 34 weeks?  Of buying you so many clothes, of opening a 529 account for you, of Oma Jo making a curtain for your nursery?  Of all the plans and all the dreams of you?  What was the point of doing all that, if you were never, ever going to be here?

I still struggle with that, but one thing I know: I wouldn't change a thing.  I wouldn't change that faint pink line one year ago.  I wouldn't change all those dreams we had for you or all the raspberries your brother gave you.  I would choose to do it all again, knowing the outcome.  (And I would appreciate it more).

We lost a lot when we lost you.

But we didn't lose the love.

So now, because we can't kiss you or hold you or watch you start to crawl, we need to find other things to do with that love.  And as we discover those things, those little rituals that help me and your dad and your brother feel closer to you, I hope you feel us and our love.

Because that's what remains.

I love you, my Lydie Girl.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Just another reason to hate taxes.

No one likes taxes, right?  No one likes doing them and no one likes paying them.

I'm grateful that my numbers-man husband handles such things.  But I'm kind of a micro-manager and I like to look them over before I sign my name.

And this year, seeing our number of dependents listed as 1 was a total slap in the face.  Seeing "Benjamin, son" hurt just as much, because of that white space underneath.

If I would have thought about this before, I would have expected it.  The government doesn't recognize Lydia's birth nor her death.  We don't have a birth certificate for her because she was born dead.  We don't have a death certificate for her because she was born dead.  To the United States government, Lydia Joanne never existed.

If she had taken one breath, even if she was born 10 weeks earlier, she would have received both a birth certificate and a death certificate.  And a social security number, so we could include her on our taxes.  We could claim her as our daughter.  

A friend and I vented about this the other day.  She pointed out that she spent more on her son because he died than she would have had he lived.  We paid the same hospital bills.  And a funeral, casket, burial, headstone - these things are expensive.  Breast milk is not.  But no tax break from the government, because her son also never took his first breath.

I'm just starting to look into all the legalities here.

I know many states don't even collect information on stillbirths.  I know others are working to get laws passed to change that.

Here's an excerpt from Star Legacy Foundation, where Lydia has a fund:
Hearty congratulations to Star Legacy Foundation board member Shannon Renfro for successfully shepherding LB1197 through the Virginia legislature! The bill becomes effective July 1st!
SUMMARY AS PASSED: Stillbirths; data collection; policies. Requires the Virginia Congenital Anomalies Reporting and Education System to collect data on stillbirths. The bill defines a stillbirth as an unintended, intrauterine fetal death occurring after a gestational period of 20 weeks. The bill also requires the State Board of Health to adopt regulations that require any hospital that provides obstetrical services to establish policies to follow when a stillbirth occurs that meet the guidelines pertaining to counseling patients and their families and other aspects of managing stillbirths as may be specified by the Board in its regulations.

I find it crazy that that's where we are.  We need to pass laws to start collecting data on stillbirths?  

But that's where we are. 

Similar to the Molly Bears, soon after Lydie's death, I wasn't concerned about getting documentation.  Who cares about a birth certificate, a death certificate?

Now?  Now I want documentation to show my daughter existed.  She was here.
A little bit of googling tells me I can get a "certificate of stillbirth" for Lydie.  And that a couple whose daughter was stillborn have been fighting in Ohio to be able to receive a birth certificate for her.  Apparently that's possible now (with of course, the fine print, not a live birth, though I'm not finding the information on it.

A new project for me, I supposed.

We'll never get to see Lydie's name on a report card or a swim ribbon or a wedding invitation.
So I will take whatever I can get.

Other baby-loss parents: do you have any kind of legal documents to show your child existed?? 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Thank you, Jen.

It has been a long day and a long week.

I had a moment today - when my sister sent me an article about how siblings shape each other's lives (apparently it's national siblings day?) - in which I realized that I now view everything through my lens of loss.  To me, that article was no longer about growing up with my sister and my brother.  It was about my son growing up without my daughter.  It was a trigger.

There are so many triggers.

So it was especially nice to find a package on the front porch tonight.  It was from my friend Jen, the first "baby loss mama" that I connected with, a friend of my sister's friend.  I reached out to her several days after getting home from the hospital, and she was my first lifeline.  I devoured her blog in a few days.  Learning how Jen was living after the stillbirth of her son Luke at full-term was my first inkling that I could in fact, live through this horror.  Soon after, Jen sent me another lifeline: the book An Exact Replica of a Figment of my Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken, which I promptly began rereading as soon as I finished.  Every time I see her name in my inbox, I feel a sigh of relief, knowing my feelings will be not only validated but understood.  Jen and our regular email exchanges have continued to be a lifesaver for me.  It's amazing how close I feel to someone I've never met, although I've been told that Orange County is a pretty nice place to visit.

And Jen is also quite crafty.

So, I was thrilled to open this package and discover this:  

3 lbs, 10 oz of love.
3 pounds, 10 ounces. 

I had forgotten what 3 pounds, 10 ounces felt like in my arms.  And the physical act of it took my breath away.

What an amazing gift.

We're on the waiting list for Molly Bears, an organization that makes memorial teddy bears that match the weight of your child.  It took me three months to place my order.  At first, I didn't think I would find it therapeutic.  If I couldn't hold Lydie, why would I want to hold a teddy bear?  Now, I can't wait for that bear to arrive.  Now, the more physical artifacts that we can have in our home that remind us of our daughter and our sister, the better.  I want anything and everything that will help me feel connected to Lydie.

So Jen, thank you so much for your labor of love.  Thank you for helping us to honor and remember our girl.  Thank you for missing her with us, and thank you for continuing to be my lifeline.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Good luck with that?

Pregnant women are one of my biggest triggers.  I discovered this soon after Lydia died, when I was still supposed to be pregnant, before she should have been (still)born.  I thought maybe once I passed my due date, that trigger would switch to babies.

But it didn't.  Don't get me wrong; I still avoid babies.  But pregnant women are worse.

And several people have announced to me that they are pregnant since my daughter died.  I'm sure there are more pregnant friends out there, but avoiding Facebook sure helps me to avoid those pregnancy announcements.

Old Heather would have responded, "Oh yaaay!  Congratulations!  How are you feeling?  When are you due?"

New Heather wants to curl in a ball and cry.  Or punch those people in the face.

The first announcement came from my cousin.  I told her that I was pregnant with Lydia at her post-wedding brunch.  One day after Lydie's due date, she wrote to me and my family to say that she was pregnant.  She did not mention my daughter.  I did not respond, and I never want to.   Let's just say, my response would not go over well with Grandma.   At this point in time, I don't want to see her ever again.  I've even had multiple dreams in which I tell her off. (And I recognize that she may not be deserving of so much anger, but there it is). 

The next was another cousin, from the other side of the family.  One I've always been close with; we were bridesmaids in each other's weddings.  I couldn't help doing the math that soon after she drove the seven hours to attend my daughter's memorial, she herself got pregnant.  She also didn't mention my daughter's name, and she was very flippant about the whole I-always-wanted-three-kids thing.  I can't do flippant about these things anymore.  I thought about a whole lot of nasty things to say to her, and instead I said nothing.  And I continue to say nothing, even though she's reached out a few times since then.  What do you want me to say?  "Congrats on your third; my daughter's dead and it's the most unfair thing in the world"?  I said nothing and I hope that sends it's own message. 

And a side note: now I also feel like I can't attend any gatherings of either side of the family.  (Not to mention the other cousin whose due date was a day after Lydie's and of course gave birth to a living, breathing baby.)  My therapist calls these "secondary losses."  I have a lot of them. 

The next was the owner of Benjamin's daycare, who was the only one at his school who acknowledged our loss to our faces.  She wrote to all the families, announcing that her new addition will be here in September.  Now, I know at least one other family who has had a loss.  And I am willing to bet that other families have experienced miscarriages.  And that others struggle with infertility.   Statistically, they're there, but those struggles are silent.  So way to treat your customers, lady.  Really professional.

It's not just that they're pregnant.  Although I would love to put a temporary (or perhaps, permanent) ban on pregnancy, rationally, I understand just because my baby died, doesn't mean every one else is going to stop having babies.  I can't expect the world to stop reproducing, though I would really appreciate it.

It's their confidence.

It's their belief that if they make it past the first trimester, then their pregnancy will result in a living, breathing baby.

It's their air of invincibility.

And it's even worse that these are people who know our story, and still act like that.

I can't wrap my head around that.  Do you realize that we had no warning signs?  That I had a completely healthy, low-risk, drama-free pregnancy until the moment I found out my daughter was dead?   Do you realize that I never, not once, contemplated that this could happen to me, to my daughter?   Do you realize that she was completely perfect and healthy until her heart stopped beating?

How do they know about Lydie and still act so confident that they will be bringing their babies home from the hospital? Why do they think what happened to me would never happen to them?

It's the anger that makes me unable to respond.  When I saw the the daycare owner, and she said hello, I wanted to tell her I just left a trauma therapy session.  Because, you know, my daughter died suddenly, when I was 34 weeks pregnant.  Instead, I couldn't even look at her.  I ignored her.  Because if I said a word, it wouldn't have been nice and it certainly wouldn't have been "congratulations." 

I can't say congratulations.  I can't.  Do you know how many times I heard congratulations when I was pregnant with Lydia?  Hundreds.  Except not once after she was born, because she was born dead.  No one told me congratulations then.

What I'd like to say is "good luck with that."  Except it sounds totally bitchy.  So I say nothing. I ignore.  And I vow never to speak to them again.  And these women, even when they're not showing, become major triggers for me.

I know there's no easy way to share this news with me.  But if anyone else is pregnant and thinking how to best tell me?  I'd like to cut down on my secondary losses, so let me give you some advice:  Put some thought into your announcement.  Recognize that I don't dislike pregnant women because I'm crazy but because they cause my anxiety to sky-rocket.  Acknowledge my loss. Use my daughter's name.  Tell me you know that the news is hard for me, because it's so very unfair that Lydia is not here with us, where she should be.  Show me that you recognize that pregnancy is risky business.  Tell me that if all goes well until then, this is your due date. Don't act like your pregnancy, at 12 weeks, equates to a living baby. 

And maybe even rethink the whole way you make your announcement to the world?  Maybe recognize that others struggle with infertility and loss, and your announcement could cause them pain?  Think about how other women were due then too, but already miscarried.  Maybe recognize that getting past the first-trimester means your odds of a loss are reduced, but do not make any promises?

I know I made the cutesy announcement myself last June, and I know I sound judgmental now.  But I've learned a whole lot since then.  And I wish that people who knew me and knew Lydie would show me that they've learned too.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Joy and the Sorrow Intertwined

I think part of the new normal is that I can't feel happy without also feeling sad.

The sorrow can exist without the joy.  But the joy?  It's always laced with sorrow now.  Because even in our happy moments, our lives should look different than they do.  Even when I'm smiling or laughing, the grief is sitting on my chest, threatening my ability to breathe.  Every moment, I'm missing Lydia and the way our lives should be.

On Saturday, Benjamin turned two.

A year ago on his birthday, I felt all sentimental and sappy.  All day long, I thought about being in labor with him, and what was going on at that moment in time a year ago.  I felt sad that my baby was turning into a toddler and it was all happening so fast.  What I didn't know yet is that I was pregnant with Lydie.

This year on Ben's birthday, I felt mostly tired.  It's been a long year.  Of course, I felt a bit sentimental too.  For so long when I was pregnant with Lydie and envisioned my life with a baby and a toddler, I wanted him to be independent.  But now that he refuses to let me help him put on his boots or even his pants ("No Mama, my do it"), it hurts my heart a bit. 

When were tucking him in the night before his birthday, Justin and I stood over his crib, saying, "Good night, one-year-old!"  We probably lingered there an extra minute, because Ben looked at us like we were crazy and said, "Bye-bye!" while waving.  We laughed.

But those laughs?  They're not pure the way they used to be.  They're full of aching.  Every funny moment we share with Ben is a reminder that we won't have those moments with his sister. 

We kept Ben's birthday low-key.  I don't have a party in me these days.  But I did want my boy to have a good day.  His Oma Jo and Pop-Pop came to celebrate with us, and there was singing and cake and ice cream and presents.

And there was the missing of his sister.

It's constant, it's ever-present, and it's even stronger during these happy moments.

Like taking this "family picture." 

What you probably wouldn't notice is Ben is holding Lydie's stone.  Justin should guest-post one day here, but long story short:  Justin bought Lydie a red heart-shaped stone that says "love" on it for Christmas.  It was under the tree, marked with her name.  On Christmas, Justin unwrapped it and it has stayed in his pocket ever since. (Except Benji tries to steal it whenever he can). 

So we're representing Lydie here, because that's important to us.  Because although we're smiling, we are so aware that this picture is incomplete.   And our hearts hurt constantly.

I posted a photo of Ben on Facebook and on Instagram.  It got 118 likes and 29 comments on Facebook, but not one person mentioned his sister.  On Instagram, where I've connected with many of my fellow BLMs, one friend wished Benjamin a happy birthday and wished his sister was here to steal some of his thunder.  Another friend commented that all boys must have a construction-themed birthday, and don't we wish we got to cross our girl themes off our list too?

That may sum up why I need these women in my life.  I didn't have to tell them what hides behind the smiles.  I didn't have to explain to them that the sorrow is intertwined with the joy.

And Ben's sister did steal a bit of his thunder, in a way.  We spent the afternoon preparing her garden.  More on that to come, but I'm looking forward to having a spot in our yard dedicated to our girl.  It seems like the perfect backdrop for family photos.

It's been five months today.  And Lydie, we love and miss you more than ever.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Recessive Gene

When I was pregnant with Benjamin and my nephew AJ was two, I taught him to say "recessive gene."  It was the cutest little thing to come out of his mouth, and it was a fun way to tease my husband.  I like my blond hair and blue eyes (when I was a kid, a few other kids said to me, "But you look so American!" when they found out I was Canadian).  I pictured blond hair, blue eyed kids.  Except I fell in love with a man who has dark brown hair and dark eyes.  Bonus points though: his sister is light haired and blue eyed, so we thought just maybe he had a recessive gene in there.  Just maybe?  We thought we might just find out when our boy was born.

Almost two years ago, Benjamin was born with light brown hair (though not much of it) and dark blue eyes.  He came out looking just like his dad.  Those eyes eventually turned brown, like his dad's, but the summer after he turned one, that boy's hair turned golden blond.  For the first time, people started to say that he looked like me.  (And I loved it).  I patted my Lydia bump and started picturing my daughter as blond, too.

(Just for the record, I love my dark haired, dark eyed husband.  I picked him, and I'd pick him again any day.  And I would love my children no matter their eye color and hair color.)

So it was shocking to me to see Lydia's full head of dark hair when she was born.  It was her dad's color.  Not just brown but a dark brown.  I couldn't believe a baby came out of me with hair like that.  I kept taking peeks under her hat to look at it.  So much hair!  So dark! 

And her eyes?  I have no idea what color they were.  Her eyes were closed and we didn't get to see them.

It really sucks to not know what eye color your child had.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that those eyes might have changed color anyway.

And her hair might have too.  That dark hair might have turned blond in the sun, just like her brother's did (it is now brown again after the winter but has the cutest highlights in it).  Or maybe it wouldn't have?

I hate not knowing.

When Ben was a baby, I couldn't picture what he'd look like as a toddler (even though I look back at photos now and see my Benji Boy in all of them so clearly).  And now I can't picture what he'll look like as an 8-year-old or a teenager or as an adult.

And so though I've held my daughter, it was hard to look past the bruising and discoloration and peeling skin.  Sometimes I have to remind myself that I've seen her cute nose and her perfect lips and her dark hair.  Sometimes I feel like I can't picture her.  So
metimes I feel like I don't know what she looks like.  And I certainly don't know what she looks like as as a toddler or an 8-year-old and eventually a teenager and an adult.

Sometimes I forget that she was born with a full head of dark hair.  When I do picture her, she's blond. And strangely, usually, when I picture her, she's a toddler, more Ben's age.  She's blond and she's adorable.  And she's happy, she's definitely giggling.  And she knows how very much she's loved.

That just feels like such a figment of my imagination. 
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