My first beautiful child, Violet Sophia, died as she was being born. After a perfect, peaceful pregnancy, losing her just as she was coming into the world devastated me beyond words. I only know her face with her eyes closed, still and perfect. I only felt her 7 lbs., 13.8 oz. weight as a solid, heavy bundle in my arms, not the wriggling, squirming baby I had felt growing within me for the last 41 weeks. I will never know the innocence and joy of being a “normal” parent, as my entry into the world of motherhood also ushered me into the world of bereavement.
Two years, five months, and four days after Violet’s birth, I was crying uncontrollable tears of relief and joy as her little sister, Ruby, was born alive and crying – the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard. Tears are part of my life now, and my eyes are used to them flowing freely. But tears of joy are new and unfamiliar. One of the things I’ve learned in my 10 months of raising a subsequent child is that every moment is a bittersweet gift and the tears just keep coming.
Tears when Ruby was a newborn, and her sleeping face reminded us all so much of Violet. When I kissed her tiny feet and realized that I had never and would never be able to kiss Violet’s tiny feet. When we saw that Ruby has a dimple in one cheek, and the question of whether Violet had Daddy’s dimples could never be answered. Many sad tears were shed amidst the joy of discovering everything about our second daughter and wondering in what ways she would be like Violet, and which ways she would be different.
More recently, I’ve noticed the tears that bubble out with my laughter. True laughter brought on by the new silly and wonderful things Ruby is doing. Blowing raspberries on my belly, over and over, bouncing up and down on the bed with her musical toys. Climbing over us like we’re mountains, trying to get whatever has caught her eye. These tears are gentle, and even sweet. They surprise me when they come because I truly am not feeling sadness in those moments. Maybe the tears come because of the relief of those light moments. Maybe Violet is there with us then, laughing along with her family. Laughter and joy preceded by tears and then followed by tears. This life is full of contradiction and mystery.
This is my truth as a bereaved parent, and as the parent of a subsequent baby. Every day, my heart is bursting with love and joy for Ruby, and every day my heart is bursting with love and grief for Violet. My love for them is equal, even though it can feel so different at times. My two gorgeous daughters have filled my heart to overflowing.