This is about Joseph. But it is also, in that shadow way we experience with our rainbow babies, about our daughter. I wrote this in the hospital, in the middle of the night after she was born three weeks ago. Thinking of Joseph and feeling his loss afresh amidst all the joy of our daughter’s healthy birth. As the empty space Joseph occupies continues to take shape in my life, I have catalogued other realizations of his absence on my blog, collectively titled “The Loss of You.”
All this excitement should be for you.
Congratulations, well-wishes, compliments on your beauty. Perfect scores on all the screenings. Measuring, weighing. Visits from pediatricians, lactation consultants.
A birth certificate.
Tears of joy at your first breath, your waving hands and wiggling legs. Your tremolo intake of breath; a short sighing exhale; a snuffle.
Watching as everyone who holds you falls in love.
Hearing your cry.
Touching your cord, ropy silk, seeing it not as evil. Seeing the blood spurt as your mother cuts your umbilicus, knowing it is my blood and your blood, the same blood, that nourished you all these months.
Recognizing, in the way your legs kick, how you moved in my womb. The way you throw your arms across your face, make fists next to your cheek, then open your palm to reveal your tapered fingers.
Watching your long toes stretch and curl.
Your eyes—steel grey? brown?—opening. Trying to see, staring wide-eyed towards me, tracking the sound of my voice. Rocking you back and forth, back and forth, until those eyes close.
Smelling your hair, thick and dark, after your first bath.
Swooping your bird-mouth onto my breast. Watching you close your eyes and suck at all this milk I made for you. Your fingernails, scratching my skin.
Feeling your arms reach across my chest, stretching wide. A first embrace. Nodding off, your skin pressed hot against my skin, our hearts beating together in our chests.
In what moments does your loss hit you the hardest? How has the news of the birth of other people’s babies affected you since your loss? How do you interact with other babies or children who are as old as your baby(ies) should have been?
If you have a rainbow baby, what was it like for you to have another baby after your loss? How has it changed your grief? How has it changed your relationship to the child(ren) you lost?