Amelia, meet your little brother Owen. Owen, meet your sister Amelia. Oh wait, you’ve already met her before you were born, haven’t you?
Over the Thanksgiving break, we traveled to Sacramento. On the way home, we made a detour through the Bay Area and stopped by to see baby Amelia. We brought her seashells and seaweed from our beach, and a succulent instead of flowers, because that’s all that I can seem to keep alive in our new house. ;)
It’s a weird feeling, bringing your new baby to visit your dead baby. I don’t know if it’s bittersweet or happy or what. But I realized that it isn’t as painful to visit her when I have a new babe in my arms. It broke me a little when I was newly pregnant and leaving her to move to San Diego last year, but now that Owen is here that pain has subsided. I don’t wish she were here instead of Owen anymore. I didn’t go to the cemetery with the same family she left us with. I haven’t forgotten her, but we’ve learned to live life without her.
I still think about you, Amelia. Every single day when I load the boys up in the car, I think to myself, “there should be a third carseat back here.” But there isn’t. And every time I see a little toddler girl with blonde curls, I picture you in our family. I think of the pictures you would have drawn me and the dolls we would have had around the house among the cars and airplanes. I think of you when I bathe the boys. I think of you when I do the laundry. I think of you when I learn more about albinism. And I think of you when I’m sitting in church. Miss you, Amelia, and all that you could have been.
Some days I wish I didn’t feel so deeply for these babies of mine. I feel like I’m constantly on the verge of tears if I even stop and think. My heart aches for the trials they have, through no fault of their own. And I know, I know — this will make them stronger. But that doesn’t soothe my heart the way I wish it would. I wish I could be more than just their mother – I wish I was a healer.
But I am no such thing.
When we left the hospital with Amelia, we ran into a group of older ladies that stopped to check out the “latest model”. I’m sure they were shocked when they peered over my shoulder and saw her physical deformities, because the smiles all of a sudden turned to pity frowns and became whispers as they walked away.
I’ll never, ever be able to erase how I felt at that moment. It was the first time I experienced shame and embarrassment for being a mother. Didn’t they know we were bringing her home to die??
It’s happening again. When Owen was tiny, people didn’t expect him to look back at them. But he’s 4 months old now. And so many times a kind stranger comes up to us in public and tries to catch his eye, trying to coax out a smile. And my heart burns with fear and longing and sadness on the inside because they don’t know he can’t see. Will they understand his blindness, or will I get the whispers and pity frowns?
Owen obviously doesn’t even see them. It has happened so many times that I’ll never forget the slight confusion on their faces when we part ways, probably wondering what is wrong with my child.
I feel so blessed and so humbled for the babies we’ve been blessed with, no matter how long their time has been with us on earth. But is there peace to be found as a mother, or will it always be this way? Will the heartache and concern I feel ever turn into a full trust and reassurance in our Heavenly Father’s plan?
It’s been well over a month since we celebrated (what would have been) Amelia’s 2nd birthday, but I thought it might be important to share our yearly birthday family picture. We’re now five people strong, but still missing her each and every single day.