A rainbow baby does not replace a baby who died. I knew this when Chet was born. That’s why part of me was surprised at how much joy he brought us. My heart felt so full; I didn’t expect so much fulfillment from having a living baby when Ginny is still gone.
I started feeling kind of guilty for being so happy. Was I dishonoring Ginny by being happy? Was I moving on or forgetting her somehow? No, I wasn’t forgetting her. I still yearn for her as much as ever, if not more so. But there was a part of me that was empty and is now full since Chet arrived.
After talking with Daniel about it, I realized what it is… When Ginny died, we didn’t just lose our daughter. We lost the ability to be parents in the way we imagined. Instead of changing diapers and pushing a stroller, we were writing in journals and crying together. Before Chet arrived, weekends were often when grief hit hardest. Our weekends were empty when they should’ve been filled with taking care of Ginny. We always felt like we were supposed to be doing something, like we forgot something. But we were just parents without a child.
For me it was physical as well. After giving birth to Ginny, I had hormones and instincts driving me to want to care for a baby. I needed to hold and nurse my baby who wasn’t here. For months I would anxiously look for her when my instincts would tell me she needed me. It’s the same feeling I get now when it is nearing time to feed Chet again. I feel a nervousness and urge to take care of my baby. But now that urge is fulfilled. Finally! After a year and a half, my physical need to care for a baby is met.
Now our weekends are busy with Chet baths, smiles, and tummy time. We are finally experiencing the typical parenting life. That part of what we lost is back. And that feels good.
But as I mentioned before, a rainbow baby does not replace a baby who died. As overcome with joy as I am that Chet is here, I do still hurt for Ginny. I’ve noticed that any minute I have alone is filled with grieving and thinking of Ginny. In the shower, drying my hair, walking to the mailbox, driving to pick up my Target order – any minute that I’m not taking care of Chet, I’m thinking of Ginny. It feels like if one kid doesn’t need me, the other does. I don’t feel like I actually get any time to decompress.
I do want to think of Ginny and continue to mourn her, but I also need some time to just rest my mind. I haven’t found the balance yet, but I think if I designate specific time for mourning Ginny (journal, pray, look through her memory box, read), it may relieve some of the built up grief and allow me to have moments of rest. Or maybe there is no such thing as rest for a mother of two under two…even if one of the two is in heaven.