Being a first time mom to a baby who only lived a couple of days isn’t only heartbreaking, it’s confusing. I’ve always been told that you learn how to be a parent as you go along. Normally, you bring your newborn home and learn by trial and error how to parent; what works and what doesn’t. Some things about parenting are just common sense; change diapers, make sure your baby is getting enough food, allow plenty of time for sleep. And when you’re stumped, you can usually find help from family and friends who are already parents to answer questions and show you the way. But how do you learn to parent a baby who is no longer physically here with you? What possible common sense can we use? Who do we call? It’s a lonely feeling. I am in no way saying that Ryan and I are not supported by family and friends. We definitely have tons of support. But unfortunately, unless you have support from people who have been through losing a first-born child, there’s not a whole lot anyone can do except for offer to listen and just be there.
Aveline would be one month old today. To be honest, I don’t know what “normal” parents do when their child turns one month old. Do they celebrate? Take pictures? Does it count as a birthday, or are you supposed to wait until their first year to celebrate birth? All of these thoughts entered my head today, and I started to feel frustrated because I realized I don’t know how to be a first time mother to Ava when she’s not in my arms. I can’t dress her in a cute, white onsie with a sticker on it that says “1 month.” I can’t take pictures of my beautiful girl to send to family and friends. I can’t tell you about all of the things she’s doing or what she likes at 1 month old, because she isn’t here. It breaks my heart. It’s devastating. It’s hard to breathe sometimes. I know I’ve said it before, but there is absolutely nothing I wouldn’t give to be a mom to her here on earth. I wish I could look into her eyes and tell her “happy one month of birth, baby girl,” instead of driving to the cemetery and looking at her grave while I talk to her. I wish I could dress her in that white onsie and take adorable pictures of her with a “1 month” sticker instead of having my mom make a “1 month” sign with flowers for her gravesite. I wish I could kiss her forehead instead of her picture. I wish I could buy her a new toy instead of asking friends and family to carry out a random act of kindness in her honor. I wish, I wish, I wish. Sometimes, writing is hard. It brings to the surface all of the things I’m feeling, all of moments I’m missing out on, and it forces me to think about them. I am trying my best to be a mom to her even though she’s not physically here with me, but it’s hard. Really, really hard. I hope that in even the smallest way, I am making her proud. I hope she knows how loved she is.
I was telling Ryan this the other day — I feel like it’s perfectly normal for moms to make their child their whole world. Moms revolve their lives around their living children. But because my child isn’t physically here with me, I feel like I am going to be expected to move on and live as if I’m not a mother. Ava is my whole world right now. I think about her every second of every day. Everything I have done over the last month has been for her. I feel “okay” when I am doing things for her. But how long is this considered normal? Is it okay to revolve my life around my angel baby? Can anyone really even answer that? I asked Ryan if I was acting too obsessive about our baby, because I truly am willfully consumed by her, and he said he wouldn’t start to worry unless he found me sleeping in her crib (it’s okay to laugh). It’s embarrassing for me to admit, but I would be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about it. I’ve had crazy thoughts. The first time I read about women who thought about digging their baby up from their grave to hold them, I thought there was no way a sane person could think about that. But oh, I get it now. Losing a child isn’t normal, so I suppose I shouldn’t expect my thoughts to be normal either.
I feel like losing Ava is forcing me to learn how I want to define myself as her mother, and it’s tearing me in a million different directions. I want to grieve, cry, and be angry. I also want to honor her, make her proud, cherish her. I want her to feel loved and know how grateful I am for her life, but I also want her to know how incredibly missed she is. I want her to see how full my heart is because of her, but also to know that there will forever be a hole there that can’t be filled until I see her again. Someday, I just hope to be grounded and confident enough in who I am to tell anyone who asks that “I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Aveline, who was taken far too soon, and I’ve learned how to be her mother from afar.”
Happy one month of birth, baby girl. Momma loves you.