There's a fresh level of grief right now. I am missing Lydia more fiercely than I have in a long time.
I just can't help but notice the space where she should be.
I think I had been so focused on my fear and anxiety for Bowie that I couldn't concentrate on my grief for Lydie. And now it's back with a vengeance.
And I'm having all these "firsts" with Josie that I didn't get to have with Lydie.
One of the toughest parts about this is that others don't seem to expect it. Any one who is not in the loss community seems to think things should be better for us now. That we should only be happy. I am really hoping that they don't think we are "fixed."
But I wonder... because we have gotten cards in the mail congratulating Heather, Justin, and Ben but making no mention of Lydie. And people who disappeared about a year ago are showing up now, making no mention of how broken we've still are.
It hurts when others don't recognize Lydia as part of our family.
Don't get me wrong, I am happy. I'm also more sad than I've been in a long time.
I watch Benjamin with his littlest sister -- he is loving being able to act on his big brother responsibilities. He has been better behaved than I've ever seen. His favorite new activity is to sit next to Josephine and read to her (and he doesn't really need help either! What a smarty-pants boy).
|"No pictures, Mom" - Ben|
|The result of Mom replying, "What if I show the picture to your girlfriends, can you smile for them?"|
I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, but the most jealousy I have seen is when I was taking photos of Josie and he asked me to take his photo too. And then he actually posed. Which I have been trying to get him to do for the past year, so no complaining here.
He's been attending school this week, and he happily declared to his teacher, "Bowie came out!" Every morning, he comes running in to our bedroom to see "my Bowie." He wants to kiss her all.the.time. When his cousin wanted to hold her, he sat stoically with her on his lap, not moving a muscle, and not letting her anywhere near "my baby."
My heart swells when I watch my son with my daughter. And it also breaks into a million pieces. Because this scene should look different. There should be an almost-one year old girl toddling between the baby and the big boy.
That space where she should be is so visible.
I can't help but wonder how Ben would have been with Lydie a year ago.
As I watch him love on Josie, I can't help but think how ripped off he's gotten that he has missed this experience for the past year.
That doesn't even hit on the fact that I have two daughters, sister daughters, whose relationship will never look the way I want it to. It will never look like the sister relationship that I have with my sister. Which, besides my husband and my mom, is my strongest, most valued relationship.
|Josephine holding Lydia's hand(print). I sure wish this could look different.|
Maybe I'm finally starting to process all that I wasn't able to last week, because I'm crying multiple times a day right now.
It's like the postpartum depression survey I took on the nurse's home visit: "Do you feel anxious and sad for no reason at all?" How the hell do I answer that? Do I feel anxious and sad? -- Yes. For no reason? -- No. I'd say I have a pretty good reason.
The anxiety has shifted, and it's better, but it's still there. I know too much now and I no longer feel invincible. I know quite a few families that have lost their babies to SIDS. The other night, Justin and Josephine went off to hang out downstairs while I went to bed early. When I woke up to a quiet house, I instantly panicked. I envisioned Justin falling asleep on the couch with Josie on his chest. I frantically texted him (which is not the norm in our house but is much easier than getting out of bed when recovering from a c-section), and they were just fine... but my mind often jumps to the worst. After the worst has happened to you, how could it not?
Most parents worry less about their second living child. They have survived the newborn stage with their oldest, they know a bit more of what to expect, they don't get as worked up about every little thing because they understand each stage will pass.
Me? We only have an old-school monitor for Ben but I just ordered a video monitor to keep an eye on Josephine. I always thought that alarms based on the baby's breathing patterns, like Snuzas and Angelcare Monitors, were completely over the top. Now? It's on my list of things to look into. (Any suggestions, anyone?)
This will not be the case for me.
And I know - I know - that my visions of my three children together are faulty at best. I recognize that if Lydie were here, Josie likely wouldn't be. When I go there, I feel like I have chosen one of my children over the other and I have to stop and remind myself: I didn't chose Josie over Lydie. I didn't have a choice. While I would never want Josephine to grow up thinking she was "Option B," as Sheryl Sandberg wrote -- kicking the shit out of Option B -- I also think, clearly my first choice would be not to know this pain and grief and not to have my child's urn on my mantle.
A few friends have asked if Josephine looks at all like Lydia. I appreciate the question, maybe because it acknowledges the big sister. But it also makes me pause. The moment Josephine was born, Dr. B announced that she looked like her big brother.
So what about her big sister? I'm not sure. Josie's hair is a lot lighter; Lydie's hair was very dark - as dark as her dad's. And Lydie's face was bruised, making it difficult to overlook the brusing to see what she might have looked like otherwise.
But there have been moments where I catch a glimpse of Lydie in Josie.
I think I hope for more of those moments.
I looked at photos of Lydie the other day, which I rarely do these days because I feel like the blurred image in my memory is gentler on me. I looked for Josephine in Lydia, in Lydia in Josephine.
I was left as a puddle of tears and snot.
I can look at the numbers. Josie was two and a half pounds heavier than her sister, but oddly, half an inch shorter. But of course, their gestational ages were different. I can compare Josie's hands and feet to her sister's hand and foot prints, and of course I have. I think proportionally, Lydie's hands and feet were bigger.
|Josephine and Lydie Bear|
Last night, my Jo Bo (get it?)
spit up projectile vomited all over me and my bed during an otherwise serene moment doing skin-to-skin. I was horrified when I realized it reached Lydie's blanket. The blanket I've never washed because it has traces of Lydie's blood on it and was wrapped all around Lydie the moment I was forced to say goodbye.
I almost vomited myself.
The rational side of me knows I've been sleeping with that blanket for close to a year now, and it probably really needs to be washed. But how ironic right? Little living sister spits up all over big dead sister's blanket.
Maybe I'll just see if I can spot clean it instead...
All this emotional stuff doesn't touch on recovering from the c-section, postpartum hormones, and cluster feeding that is happening pretty much all night, every night. I feel like I don't have a right to complain, because last time, I dealt with all of this (minus the c-section recovery) without a baby. And believe me, it's a much better situation to be exhausted from breastfeeding all night than to be exhausted because your baby is dead.
On a brighter note, I feel like I can think of the future for the first time in a year. When Lydia died, I couldn't look at my calendar for months. I had each week of gestation marked on there, her scheduled c-section, my maternity leave that never actually happened.
I didn't look at a calendar for a solid three months because I couldn't bare the thought of a future without my daughter.
Suddenly, I can think about Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas. It will never stop being painful that we won't physically have Lydia with us. But after lacking so much confidence throughout Bowie's pregnancy, now I can plan to have Josephine there. And I know all the ways we will continue to honor Lydie and keep her with us.
I feel like I can breathe for the first time in a long time.
|This made me laugh. Grateful to have this one on the outside where I can see her!|