In the beginning, there was joy. Two excited big sisters. The dream of life as five. My big girl patting my tummy, giving it kisses. Resting her head on my bump, telling me that you were kicking her. Excitement, anticipation, joy.
Then utter desolation.
Joy turned to sorrow. Excitement became numbness. You moved, you wriggled. I felt nothing. You were still unknown. I could not bond with you. My heart ached for your biggest sister, my focus day-to-day was your other sister. I could not picture you. You had not been part of that other life. You were new, alien. Your arrival meant moving on, leaving her behind. I was frightened.
And then, you arrived.
In that moment, grief hit first. I could not welcome you until I had wept for her. For the little girl who had longed for a brother; the brother she was never to meet. I cried for her, for you, for me, for all of us. For the dream that had been snatched away; the family life forever shattered.
And then I saw you and love filled my aching heart. I felt joy once more. Joy mixed with pain. But joy nevertheless.
My beautiful boy. My rainbow baby. A ray of sunshine breaking through the clouds of my grief.
Darling Thomas, you are such a happy baby. Your eyes light up when you look at me and you have the biggest, most beautiful smile. You look at me when I feel sad as if you are trying to do your best to make me happy once more.
My little boy, my rainbow baby. I love you so very much.
But my love for you is a complicated thing.
For each moment that my heart overflows with love for you, there comes that ache, that guilt.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. She should be here too.
How can I feel joy when she has gone? How can I be happy without her? My heart breaks once more. I cry.
“He doesn’t replace you Jessica. My love for him takes nothing from you.”
Loving Sophie does not come with guilt. I loved her and Jessica together. They knew they were both loved, together and as individuals. I am free to love Sophie as I always did.
But loving you is complicated. I should be able to love you freely, but I cannot. My love for you and my grief for your biggest sister are two sides of the same coin. I cannot separate them.
My rainbow baby, my darling boy. I love you so very much. I love your sisters. Each of you has your own place in my heart, each of you is precious to me. You all bring joy in different ways.
When I look at you, I see you. All the wonderful things that make you who you are. But I also see your sisters. I see all the little ways in which you are like them. I hear Jessica in your coos, I see her in your face. When you snuggle against me, I remember my first baby, and how she once did the same.
I watch your sister with you. That beautiful sibling bond. It makes me smile and then makes my heart break. I am so aware of the bond that has been lost even while I cherish the new bond that is growing. How lovely Sophie is with you, how kind and caring. I love the way you look at her, the way you save your biggest smiles for her. Just like she was with Jessica. Each time I watch you together, I wonder how it would have been for you with two big sisters to love you. How gentle your biggest sister would have been.
In the night I watch your sleeping face and marvel at the wonder of it. For a moment I almost feel content but then that ever-present ache overpowers me. Memories flood back, thoughts of another night when I did not sleep. When I gazed on another face; one with eyes that were closed forever. I relive a lifetime of memories of her, question once more whether I failed her. I hear her little voice in my head, her calling me mummy and my heart breaks. In the darkness, I cry once more for her.
And then I look at you and Sophie. I watch you sleep. How thankful I am for you both. My aching broken heart fills with love.
With love comes pain.
With joy comes guilt.
Nothing is unclouded any more.
This was not how it should have been.
But you are here and you are loved, darling boy. More than I could ever say. Loved by me, loved by daddy, loved by your big sister. And I know how your biggest sister would have adored you too.