Every second-time mother I know has cried about having another baby. They ask, “How could I ever love another child as much as I love my first? What if I’m not able to continue to give my first child the attention they deserve?”
It wasn’t until I was pregnant that I realized that all of these questions and concerns also applied to me even though my first child had died.
Often when I’m crying, I assume it is because of my grief and the difficulties of pregnancy after loss, but I need to realize that sometimes I’m crying because all second-time mothers cry when going through the transition of anticipating another baby. All second-time mothers need to make room in their lives, houses, and hearts for a new baby. They have to share the space. The same is true for a loss mom.
How could I ever love another child as much as I love Ginny?
What if I’m not able to mourn Ginny the way she deserves?
Like all moms, I need to make the space and find a new routine.
If you’ve lost a loved one (even just broken up with a boyfriend or girlfriend) you realize just how much space a missing person takes up in a home. Everything reminds you of them. The spaces where they were are filled with their things. Even though we took down the nursery less than a week after Ginny was stillborn, our “guest room” was filled with her garden decor. The closet had a plastic wrapped stroller in one corner and a boxed crib mattress in the other. The shelves were full of a vacuum sealed breastfeeding pillow and baby lounger. The racks were empty, but every time I looked at them, I saw all her little pink and white outfits hanging there on miniature hangers.
Even in our master bedroom, there is a basket of homemade blankets, artfully crafted to comfort us in our grief. Under our bed is the disassembled crib and the priceless memory box we got from the hospital. The memory box is too sacred to pull out often, but we know it’s there. Our desk has a collage of ultrasound pictures. The hall has framed quotes to encourage us, a vase of sunflowers, a small “hope” placard, all reminding us of Ginny. She’s everywhere, and that’s how we like it. It makes us happy and fills us with love.
So how do we make room in a house that is already full? We started this weekend. I wrapped up and packed up the “You Grow Girl” pots, I took down the wooden wall art with vegetables, we folded up the floral quilt. Daniel hung shark and whale pictures. We got a blue striped bedspread. We hung cute fish-tail wave hooks. We ordered beach photos to fill the gallery wall frames. We washed and neatly hung the little blue and gray onesies on miniature hangers in the exact spot where Ginny’s clothes were.
We did it. Piece by piece the transformation is happening. It is bitter sweet. It is sad that it’s not Ginny’s room anymore. But we are happy to be decorating Chet’s room. More than symbolizing hope of bringing Chet home, redecorating the nursery is a way to parent Chet now. It allows us to do something to care for him and show our love for him. It’s a way to bond with him.
I don’t regret having snipped a single tag off of Ginny’s clothes. I don’t regret having the nursery complete before she died. It’s some of the best memories of parenting her while she was with us. I knew we needed to do the same with Chet, no matter the outcome. Although I will say that while hanging the cute little boy clothes and seeing the beachy blues around the room from the glider, I do imagine bringing him home and watching him grow.
My heart is making room for Chet. I can love both Ginny and Chet, just as all mothers can love all their children. And just as all mothers must find new routines and split their time, I will make time to care for Chet and mourn for Ginny. And just as all siblings grow up together, Chet will grow up with Ginny. He will see the vase of sunflowers. He will see the ultrasound collage and make a fort out of knitted grief blankets. One day he will even look through the precious memory box and see a picture of his sister’s face and touch the molds of her hands and feet. He will know he has a big sister who loves him in heaven. He will know there is more than enough love to go around.