November 5, 2010


When I have children who live, I am going to get irritated with them sometimes. I am going to need a break every so often. I am going to look at them from time to time and think: What exactly did I get myself into, here?! And that's okay. I will not be perfect -- and my kids won't be perfect either.

I think that's a trap we often find ourselves in, us babyloss mamas. We think of our babies and all we can imagine at first is their cute little faces and their happy gurgles and the bonding and the breastfeeding and the milestones and the motherly pride. We think we would trade anything; that we would wear spit-up and saggy breasts with a smile, that we wouldn't mind the stretch marks or the sleepless nights or the short-term memory loss, if only our baby was here. And to an extent, that's true. I really would rather have all of those things, than the sorrow that lives now in my heart, and always will.

It's easy to dwell solely on all the lost potential for good -- all the warm fuzzy feelings, every sweet thing we're missing out on -- and thus to feel desperately, endlessly sad. But I think it's important to remember that these babies were people; tiny little people who would have grown up to be as flawed as anyone. Babies who would have pooped on your hand, and broken your sunglasses, and lost the remote. Children who would have talked back, and gotten grass stains on every pair of their jeans, and left a trail of breadcrumbs and jam from the kitchen to the living room. And we would not have hesitated to complain about it, in the comiserating way of our culture.

If they had not died, if none of our babies died, we might still be those moms; the ones we can't stand now, the ones who say the dumbest things. The ones who gripe about being pregnant, or about how tired they are from being up all night with a newborn. We wouldn't think anything of it. We would take it all in stride, not even knowing what it would sound like to someone who longed to experience what was being described. And while perhaps it might make us uncomfortable, to imagine ourselves once again so ignorant and blase, there really is nothing unforgivable in it. It may not be the best attitude, but it is not the worst either; and oh, I wish we were still those moms.


In the early days of grief, I would miss Ailis most when I saw a mother and her baby girl, smiling into eachother's faces, enjoying a moment of bliss. I did not think of Ailis when I saw a little girl having a screaming fit in the grocery store. But you know what? Ailis might have had an occassional screaming fit in a grocery store!

If Ailis had lived, she might have refused to take baths, and we might have had to fight about it every. single. time. She might have hated having bows in her hair, and pulled them out no matter how earnestly I pleaded or bribed. She might have crept out of her bed and sat at the top of the stairs to watch TV over my shoulder late at night. As a teenager -- oh goodness! She might have done any number of naughty, rebellious things as a teenager.

And Noah. If Noah had lived, I feel quite certain that his temper tantrums would have been a sight to behold. He might have stolen cookies from the cupboard after I forbid him to have any more. He might have hidden seventeen frogs in the living room in one afternoon. He might have set fire (accidentally) to the storage shed. He might have clogged the toilets all the time.

They would have been real. They would have been flawed. And I would not have loved them any less for it. I will not love my future children any less when I get irritated with them, either. I do not expect that just because I wanted it so bad for so long, I am never going to get tired or frustrated or disillusioned by motherhood. I am extending this grace to myself. I am giving myself permission (and you too, if you need it) to one day look that beloved rainbow baby straight in the eye, and to take them in, in all their wonderful, gorgeous, unique, living glory, and think:

You, my dear, are driving me absolutely crazy.


Tell me, what are some things your child might have done, had they lived, that would have made you sooo mad?


  1. You are very wise vera kate. It took me a long time to figure this one out. That J would not be perfect simply because her sister died. That she is alive and real and flawed as all of us are and her sister would surely have been too had she lived. And you are right, you would not have loved Noah or Ailis any less for tantrums, frogs and fights about bathing and you will not love your future children any less either. It all comes together as part of that strange whirlwind of 'living glory' that is a child. That is a truly lovely last paragraph.

    It seems that whenever I feel particularly sentimental about her lost twin, J will pull all the tricks out of the bag. Her favourite is to lean her head right back and then smash it into my nose, then smile disarmingly. Sometimes I wonder how absolutely crazy I would be driven if this attack were double sided. I'll never know but I do know I would have complained. Loudly.

    Now I'm just glad she's there to totally smoosh my nose up. Still drives me totally to distraction at times. Thank you for understanding and for the permission, I still need it some days. xo

  2. So true - thank you for that permission - I agree that we all probably think of the good times - although even when I hear a screaming baby I think "I wish I had a screaming baby" because it's a vast improvement from no living baby at all. I wish we were still those moms too!
    I think my children would have grown up to have attitudes, to be embarrassed by me, to be out past curfew, to scream at me and tell me to leave them alone, to eat family dinners (albeit sometimes they wouldn't want to), to 'forget' to do homework, to cuddle with me while I sang to them, to scream when they had to take a bath, to go to college and make a career for themselves, to get married and have grandchildren, to live well past me.... Oh how I wish those were things that could have happened for Riley & Peyton. I miss them so. Great post. (((hugs)))

  3. I thought this was a GREAT post and so true. I think about this often too when I get irritated from all the complaints I hear from non BLM who are pregnant...hell even those warm fuzzy happy moments I hear from non-BLM...I guess you could say ANYONE that's pregnant. :/ I'm not happy with these feelings I have, but I just can't help but feel the way I do. I know that NO one is perfect...not even our babies, but I guess we just can't see past our own grief that we forget we wouldn't be "perfect" parents either. Well that goes for me at least. I definitely will try harder to remember this the next time I get irritated by these things.

    Thinking of you, Ailis and Noah always.

  4. I'm not sure. I dont think I ever told you but I lost twins last December. I have saved all my baby stuff in hopes that I still might have another child but its getting to be too late I am afraid. It truly is sad. I am so grateful for my little Evan.

  5. I didn't know, Alison. I'm so sorry. It IS sad; and it matters. Evan is delightful, and I am so glad that you have him.