A friend recently pointed me to another blog written by a woman who lost a child. The blog discussed the weird questions you field when you’re pregnant again after experiencing that loss. Well-meaning folks want to make sure you aren’t going to screw up the next kid because you’re trying to replace the one that died. I wrote a post about it right before I had Floyd.
But something happens after you actually have the kid. You suffer through the first few months wondering if you’ve made a horrific mistake, and you ache terribly for your lost child. That deep hole of pain that seemed to lessen over time opens up again, and you’re falling faster than ever, thanks to extreme sleep deprivation, sore nipples and plummeting hormones.
Eventually you begin to sleep a little longer. Your new child begins to smile, then laugh, then scoot. His personality develops and he’s interacting with the family, and before you realize it, you find yourself undeniably in love with this new child. This person who would never have existed had you not disappeared within the bowels of hell, only to pop back up again, albeit a different person now than you ever were before.
This new child–and I hate saying the word new, but he is a new human being, is his very own person. Yes, everyone I know has called Floyd Jay on at least one occasion, but he isn’t Jay. Floyd will give me a smile and I will see Jay’s eyes, but those eyes are Floyd’s, through and through. There is no question that Jay will never be replaced by anyone, ever.
But something happens several times throughout the day that is the same. Things that could be called a “replacement” if you choose to view it that way. The moments before bedtime when I rock Floyd in his room, the only sound being my whispers and the whir of the white noise machine, or the times when I walk with him to go pick up my daughter and I quietly chat to him about what we see or where we’re going. Those moments are the same. That love is the same. The people who stood too close to me with tears in their eyes when they found out I was pregnant, the ones who clutched me and told me the new baby would be “so healing”, well, they were right. Love is healing. I think a lot of people in my position who have lost a child and had another one are hesitant to talk about it for fear that people will think that you did replace a child, or that things are totally OK now that you have another baby. Sometimes I want to wear a sign that says, “FLOYD IS AMAZING AND HE HEALS MY HEART, BUT I STILL REALLY, REALLY, REALLY MISS MY SON JAY AND WOULD DO ANYTHING TO HAVE HIM.” But that would be a very big sign and honestly would not make me any new friends. So I write a blog post instead that says the same thing.
Yesterday morning I sat with Floyd, who had just woken up from a nap. He was fussy for some reason, even though he had already nursed. I held him in my arms on the couch and talked to my daughter, who was sitting next to us. My husband, who was standing about 15 feet away, suddenly looked a little concerned.
“Is he alright?” he asked.
I looked down at Floyd. He lay motionless in my arms. His eyes were open, but weren’t moving. He had a faraway gaze that I haven’t seen since Jay fell back in the chair.
“Hey! Are you alright?!” I jostled him. Another second went by with no change. He then looked at me and smiled.
“Jesus Christ,” I said, restarting my heart. Floyd took a minute to zone out in mama’s arms and I almost lost my mind.
We’re never too far away from ground zero, or at least it seems. I will take that love that I get from Floyd and celebrate it. I will be grateful for it on a level that I never was before. I am a person who has loved and lost in an awful way. But once you lose a love like that, you have the ability to hold onto it so much tighter when it comes around again. Is the love “replaced”? Is it just plain “new”? Does it matter?