I've been struggling a bit. That sentence almost makes me laugh, because I hear the masses of you uttering a collective, "Duh!" Since Little Man's arrival, though, I've been a different kind of mess than I was before.
When I was pregnant with him, so soon after losing Harlynn, I was constantly at doctor's appointments. First it was a combination of OB and Perinatologists. Then it was appointments every week. Twice a week. Three times a week. Hospital stays. Doctors. Nurses. Constant monitoring and care. Going to the hospital on the south side of town so frequently was more than just keeping appointments. It had become a way of life. I met some wonderful caretakers. I became friends with an amazing nurse who knew what it was to be a loss mom. People talking to me. Asking about Harlynn. Asking to see her picture. Listening to me tell stories. Constant care.
After Little Man was born, I was in such a heavy mental fog. Was it real he was here? Was he really okay? We had visitors, people brought gifts (And I'd like to thank all of you for what you brought, and apologize for not writing it down or being organized enough to write a thank-you later...), and I was living in a parallel universe; "of the world but not in the world" so to speak.
Then we went home, and life forever changed. Again.
You see, I went from being constantly monitored, cared for, and watched like a hawk, to being set free, on my own, and left to my own devices. I went from having several people hovering over me continuously, to having no one. No one needs to know what my blood pressure is. No one needs to stick a needle in my arm (though I really don't miss that part of it). No one needs to mash on my stomach or give me a pill. It was like I ended up an old favorite book high up on a shelf that someone once always read but has long since forgotten.
It's weird, really. I sought so much comfort in those constant appointments. Not only for the reassurance of Little Man's well-being, but because those places were the last places I saw, held, and cared for Harlynn. Then...I had no more reason to go there. Done. Finito. Discharged.
It's as if I'm experiencing a secondary postpartum experience. Yes there is the hormonal shift from being pregnant to nursing. There is the lack of sleep in caring for an infant. There is the joy one minute in caring for him and the fear in the next because surely I must be doing something wrong. And there is always, in the back of my mind, the missing link. Harlynn. I am caring for her baby brother, and she isn't here to be a part of it. Little Miss has taken to the role of big sister quite nicely, and I believe Little Man will not be shorted in experiencing life with dainty diva personality. Even still...
It feels somewhat lonely, this secondary experience. Doesn't anyone need to know if my feet are swelling? Doesn't anyone wonder if I'm getting headaches or seeing spots? I suppose not, since I'm completely healthy and no longer pregnant. I was pregnant for nearly two years, though. I was always at the doctor's office, and now, I have no reason to go back until next year for an annual check up. Next year. One time. That's it.
It's a little hard to swallow. Strange as it may seem, I miss the appointments. I miss the hubbub. I miss the hospital.
That said, I couldn't be happier that he's here. He's safe. He's alive. He cries like a champ and as much as it drives me crazy when I can't get him to stop, I'm so thankful he's here to even utter those wails.
The other day, I was holding Little Man in my lap and I felt a little hand on my shoulder. I turned, but there was no one and nothing there. At least not that I could see. Was she getting a closer look at her baby brother? Was she filling in for my bizarre need to have someone watching over me?
It will never be fair to us that she isn't here. It will never be fair that she can't cry right alongside her brother, or play with her sister's dolls. It will never be fair that a precious, innocent baby had to die. It will never be fair that she is in heaven and we must wait to join her. Had she never lived within me, however, we wouldn't know this depth of love we have as her family. We wouldn't have known how to cling so tightly to God when we couldn't wade the waters on our own. We wouldn't have known the solid truth in the verse "The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." (Deut 31:8)
I may be done with my medical home-away-from-home, and all of the attention and care that went with it. But I will never doubt her past, or continued role in our lives. In Little Man's appearance. Her place in my heart. In all our hearts.
This secondary experience isn't only grieving the end of an era. It's being uncertain of this new beginning. Uncertainty weighs on every step I take going forward. But for now, it's a weight I can carry.