Being a parent to a child on earth and a child in Heaven is a constant balancing act.
One of the many tough parts is knowing what to say when people ask how many kids you have. It's a question that I get a lot. Right after Jacob died, I told myself that I would always acknowledge him to others. If they ask if I have kids, I would tell them. But I haven't always done it. It is different when you are actually asked the question. Do you make them feel uncomfortable by saying that I have one here and one in Heaven (that isn't even true in my case, I have 5 in Heaven but to get into the miscarriages just seems like too much).
So I find that I usually just say yes if asked is Emily is my first. I always feel bad after and say something in my head, like "my first living" or "my first to come home from the hospital". I say sorry to my lost babies too, for not acknowledging them.
I met someone a few weeks ago who asked me this question. I said yes, feeling uncomfortable as always. Later on, I was asked how I know a mutual friend and it came out that we met on a birth board for Rainbow Babies due in March 2012 (I lost those babies after we met). So then I was caught in my lie and I talked briefly about Jacob and my miscarriages and wished that I had just told the truth in the first place. But a few weeks before that, I was at a birthday party and meeting friends of the child's Mom and was asked if Emily is my first and I said no, that my first was stillborn, and I quickly changed the subject so that they wouldn't feel awkward, and I could tell they did. I hate how I try to protect other people instead of telling them what I want everyone to know about.
I talked to Ted about it after that party and he suggested that I say no, that I've had a few losses. I love that response. They can ask more or we can just move on. But saying it is hard. I've been asked since then and I didn't say it, even though it was on the tip of my tongue. I was asked if Emily is my first yesterday when we were at a kids' music thing. I said no, that I've had some losses. I guess she didn't hear or wasn't sure what she heard, so I had to repeat it, which I found uncomfortable. But then she said that she had the same thing (miscarriages as it turned out, she has 3 living children) and told me about someone she knows who lost their one-month old and how it is always a hard question to answer. I didn't leave that conversation feeling particularly happy or unhappy with my answer, which I guess is good.
I wonder what it will be like when Emily is older, 3, 4, 5 and older than that, assuming we don't have any more kids. Maybe I won't be asked the question as much. Maybe people will come right out and ask why we don't have more.
I walk to my sister's house twice a week to babysit. So Emily and I go by the place where Jacob's name is written in the cement and every time I pause and think of the two worlds my children live in.
I never have to worry about Jacob and my lost babies being hurt, hungry, getting needles, cavities filled, feeling excluded by friends, upset, stressed...all the negatives. I worry more than I probably should that something bad will happen to Emily. But I worry so much that my lost babies are lonely. I don't worry about whether or not they know that I love them, they must. I can't accept anything other than that. But I know of so many babies that have passed and know that there are millions more that I don't know about. I imagine that they are all together, happy, playing, watching us, waiting for us.
Several times a day, sometimes just for a few seconds and sometimes for a few minutes, I wonder what it would be like to have Jacob here too, or August or Cub or what it would have been like if the twins had lived. Having 2 babies at once seems so exhausting, but exciting too. I go to playgroups and see Mom's with twins and know that that could have been me. It should have been. I see Mom's with a boy about 2.5-3 years old and imagine that I have Jacob with me too. Getting two kids in and out of carseats, entertaining two kids while at home. How much laundry two kids would generate. I don't feel the sharp stabbing of pain most of the time when I do this. I feel a bit subdued, but not really depressed. Sometimes it's like imagining a scene from a movie of what should have been. I don't imagine that it will ever stop. I don't want it too. But if I had any one of those babies, I wouldn't have Emily and I can't imagine my life without her.
From being with my nephews so much, I can really imagine what it would be like to have a little boy in the house. All the bigger-kid toys mixed in with the baby toys. How I would be taking care of 4 kids 2 days a week instead of 3. Dividing my attention between my kids so that both get what they need. What the bedrooms would look like, what bath-time would be like. So many different scenarios to imagine.
Sometimes Emily looks behind me and smiles and laughs while looking up near the ceiling and I always wonder if we are getting a visit. How I wish I knew for sure.