Completely incomplete

photo by  Alison Scarpulla

In one of my many day dreams, the little girl giggles sweetly; her soft brown curls bounces off her shoulders as she runs across our just-trimmed lawn. She wears a yellow sun dress with tiny multi-colored butterflies printed on it, she turns around to blow me a little kiss, her brown eyes lock on mine as she throws her head back laughing, calling for Mummy to come play with her, by the time I blink again she’s gone but not forever, my mind will conjure her up every now and then, in the various stages of life and we will be together in those brief moments…

We moved into our new house at the end of 2012. I fell in love with everything about the house—the beautiful porcelain tiles, the spacious rooms all perfectly spaced, the fireplace and large windows, the kitchen with its black tiles and many cupboards, the large garden and the fir trees. It was by no means perfect. There was still (is still) so much work to do by way of painting and fixing but to us, to us it was everything we ever wanted. A month later, when we found out we were pregnant with our second child, we could not have been happier. The baby could not have come at a better time.

But the baby didn't come home nine months later as planned. The baby died. I arrived home alone.

We never settled on which of the two rooms would be my son's and which would be hers. We never had any 'welcome home baby' celebrations. She never crawled on those tiles, never toddled barefoot before I got to her with a pair of slippers—the fluffy pink kind that I have never actually bought. There was no need to baby proof anything. The wine rack remains intact. Christmas decorations are up and in place, crystals scattered around our home. There is no baby in our home. Just a busy working couple and their once-toddler who has grown up to be an amazing seven going-on-seventeen year-old. 

But the day before Christmas Eve, a baby visited. Two of my maternal aunts and a few of my cousins stopped by our home for a a spur-of-the-moment visit—one with her six month-old baby daughter. I simply took a deep breath and welcomed them all in.

A baby entered my home for the first time, but she wasn't mine.

My son watched the baby tentatively, and finally went over to say hello. Uncertain of how to greet her, he waved. He was fascinated by her tiny fingers and toes, miniature in comparison to his own. All the while, I was fascinated by his bravery, strength, and resilience. He was thinking about his lost sister, the one he never met. The one he often longs for. He handled this other baby, his cousin, so well. So did I. If he could handle it, so could I.

The baby isn't ours. She belongs to someone else, and that is okay. I laughed and carried on as I normally would when hosting. We ate and enjoyed each other’s company. The baby was laid on our bed for a nap. My husband arrived, and he didn't mind, either.

Our baby is gone. Every day, new babies are born—some in our family and within our circle of friends. It’s been three years, five months and seven days since we lost ours, but who’s counting? I am. I always am.

Am I sad, of course. That my daughter isn't with me; that I have no milestones to measure or boast about; that she isn't home with us. But now, three years, five months and seven days after the loss of her, I live with sadness and gladness side-by-side. In my life, there is room for both.

Time is progressive. It moves forward constantly, increasing the infinite space between then and now. It cannot be slowed down, paused or halted. Time urges us to take a step forward, no matter the direction. Just forward, onward, on. Seconds to minutes, minutes to hours, hours to days, days to weeks, weeks to months, months to years.

I have decided that it doesn't have to mean anything. Since I am 32 and mother to one living child, we question whether or not we will try again. I can say that I am not angry anymore, but I can't say that we are okay just the way we are. At the end of the day, four minus one will always equal four. We are completely incomplete. A puzzle with all its pieces scattered on the floor is whole, nonetheless.

How have you coped with the pregnancies and births of close family and friends after your own loss? Has the passage of time made this slightly more bearable? How have you dealt with the inevitable question of whether you will be extending your family or not after the loss of your baby?