I know this is probably going to sound absolutely nuts, but I really miss the days when I only had one dead baby. It sounds morbid, but please know I don’t say it lightly. Of course I would rather have all three of my boys here. But after some time had passed from Lincoln’s death, I was able to find some peace in my broken life. It wasn’t after Jonah was born that this peace came. It was after Liam. Jonah had a sibling. My arms were full, and I had spent years learning how to continue mothering the son I lost, as well as the ones I had with me. Liam brought a calm into my life with him. And losing him didn’t just take away that calm, it absolutely devastated me. I don’t want this to belittle what it has been like to carry on without Lincoln. Losing him changed everything for me. I learned a lot of painful truths about the world when he died. I prepared for him and wanted so badly to bring him home. Hopes and dreams were ripped away from me. Everything came crashing down around me. I didn’t think it could get any worse. I really thought I had faced my most painful days.
When I was pregnant with both Jonah and Liam, I was absolutely terrified that something would go wrong. That’s just the nature of pregnancy after loss. You know too much. Blissful ignorance is a thing of the past. But as much as I knew, and as scared as I was, I was still never able to imagine what it would be like to grieve over a second child. I knew the risks and the possibilities. But, on the other hand, it seemed impossible that life could really be cruel enough to put me through such heartbreak again. Liam’s pregnancy was even more terrifying than Jonah’s. Despite the fact that I had successfully birthed his older brother, I was way more nervous. His pregnancy felt so similar to Lincoln’s. But we were ready for Liam in every way. We had everything he could possibly need, and we prepared his older brother for his arrival to make a smooth transition. When I heard his first cry, I let out tears of relief. He was safe. I thought getting him here was the hard part. He fit into our family so effortlessly. He made us feel complete, though we would still always be missing one. His connection with Jonah was a thing of magic. They clicked immediately and watching them together filled my heart with so much joy. The happiness started to outweigh the grief.
Before Liam got sick, we were figuring out our rhythm. I was starting to get the hang of things with an infant and a toddler. We had our routine pretty well formed. Liam was such a huge part of us. His presence balanced out our whole family dynamic. We were as we were meant to be. I had learned so much and I had found my footing. The time frame between Liam’s positive RSV swab and his death was so short. Everything happened so quickly, and it still feels like a giant shock to my system. It still feels like a bad dream. The world really can be THIS cruel. I hadn’t seen my worst days after Lincoln died. Losing Liam is an entirely new pain. Just about everything I learned about grief has gone out the window. The grief is fresh and so incredibly heavy. Sometimes it feels like I’m drowning in it. Instead of watching Jonah with one brother and wishing he had the other, I watch him on his own. I listen to him talk while he plays, and wish so desperately that he could talk to his brothers. I go about my day, not only missing out on a life with Lincoln, but now I am also missing the routine I had in place with Liam. I miss having him strapped to my chest while I fold the laundry, and I miss sitting awake with him in the middle of the night.
When Lincoln died, I didn’t know what I was missing. That’s painful in its own way. I don’t know what color his eyes were or what his temperament was like. I will always wonder and, as time passes, I continue to wonder who he would be. I wonder what my life would be like if I had my 4 1/2 year old son here with me. Along with missing Liam for exactly who he was and what he gave me, I also have to wonder who he would be if he had gotten to grow. What would it be like to have a 4 1/2 year old and a 4 month old, along with my living 2 year old? It was so much easier when I only had to miss one of them. Right now grief overshadows joy, more often than the other way around. And that’s so challenging. All I can do is keep striving to learn and grow, just like I did after Lincoln died. It takes so much work to choose healing when you’re hurting. Making that choice again is truly exhausting. But I’ll do it for them. For all three of my boys, though now I’m missing two.