Aging Guilt

Tomorrow. She’s two years old tomorrow. Birthday #2 has been much harder than the first was for me. This week has been emotional. More than a few tears have been shed and even when I’m composed on the outside, my mama heart is tied up in knots. The countdown this week is a reminder that my days with my one-year-old daughter are coming to a close. I’m certain that the losses we experienced over the past (almost) year and the anticipation of getting pregnant again contribute heavily to this sadness amidst a time of celebration.

 

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Her last day as a one-year-old

My baby girl is turning two! Her life and opportunity to age make my heart so glad. My sadness is not about her aging, Lord knows I delight in that. But how quickly it has happened and without hesitation despite the heartaches. And the guilt that comes with being so glad for her life and always thinking about the lives who will never have a birthday, who we will never see grow.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought about how things would be today if James was with us… How very different our lives would be. How, as busy as we think we are now, truly busy and tapped we would be. How I’d be juggling a toddler and an infant and all the tasks and extras associated with having babies less than two years apart.

I wish my baby boy was in my arms. He’d be almost six months old. The ‘silver lining’ of it all is that losing him granted me more time with my daughter. And that’s where the guilt lies.

 

 

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16 weeks with James

When I was pregnant with James I felt guilty that having another baby would force Connie to grow up more quickly. I’d want her potty trained sooner as to avoid two babies in diapers… She’d have to give up some of her mama time to accommodate the needs of her baby brother… He’d take priority of care as she would be more independent and capable… While I was pregnant with him I told myself to give her as much of me as I could because I knew a sibling would turn her world upside down.

 

I feel guilt. Guilt for losing my son, and our third baby. Guilt for appreciating the time I’ve had with Connie as a result. And some guilt for smothering her. I’ve had to come to terms with accepting that she may be my only biological child we have, my only experience with a full-term pregnancy, labor, nursing, etc. And because I have to accept this on some level, I am entangled with her, in absolute awe and overwhelming love.

All parents, all good parents, love their babies with everything they have. Losing a child, however, carries a burden, endured by the parents and the living child(ren). She lives for herself but she lives also for the lives that could not–that’s a burden I place on her that she doesn’t realize now, but someday may. I think the blessing in it all is that I hold a greater appreciation and take nothing for granted.

Losing James was the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced and I carry the guilt and despair in my heart. There have been blessings that resulted from his loss. I’ve developed friendships, knowledge, and growth which I wouldn’t have if he lived. And time… time with Connie.

I have to be grateful for the blessings and find comfort that my babies are with me always; that their lives mattered and held purpose. And I have to relish in the gifts I’ve been able to experience and witness.

Moments ago I put my daughter to bed. I cried as I held her one last time as a one-year-old. Tomorrow, I celebrate my second motherhood anniversary. The day Connie made me a mama was the most magical and humbling day of my life. She’s the greatest joy of my life and that is worth celebrating.

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