The Second Year

‘First you have to live through the first year’, they said, and we did. ‘Then the second…’ they said immediately after that. I could not get my head around it that you might not be able to really get over this. That you could not just live through it and then leave it behind you. It made me feel angry, rebellious and very determined to show that I could do this. But the loss of a child goes much deeper than I thought. Grief is thicker than water.

It is Spring again. The weather is great and there are different smells and colors outside. ‘Look mum! Daffodils!’ my daughter says full of delight. I whisper that I see them too. I have noticed it before and this week it weighs on me. Daffodils make me think of Amanda. They were growing everywhere when she was growing inside of me.

Today two years ago we went to the hospital for another ultrasound. After years of waiting I was finally pregnant and so immensely grateful that God entrusted another child to us ánd very worried because the year before another precious baby appeared to have serious deficiencies at that ultrasound. Fortunately, our little baby was totally healthy and I cried when we heard we would have a girl.

Still we were referred to the hospital for another ultrasound. Because not all was well. Our girl was too small. We didn’t tell many people about it at first. We celebrated birthdays and we tried to not feel worried. First we needed to have that second check. That week I walked quite regularly through the smells and colors of Spring, felt my growing belly, prayed, spoke life and health and tried not to worry.

February 23, 2017. Our daughter wasn’t growing well indeed. I appeared to be in a pre-stage of preeclampsia and needed to take aspirin, though that probably was too late and would not work anymore. There was nothing more we could do, except praying. We wrote an email to everyone close to us with explanation and prayer requests. I prepared meals to freeze, arranged babysitters and read everything I could find about premature born babies. From 24 weeks of pregnancy on, I had to come back to the hospital every week. As long as she kept growing, I could go home again, But if she stopped growing, I had to stay in the hospital and she probably would be born soon, with all risks to that.

I took more rest, although they said that didn’t make any difference. I did only what was really important in the house and with the children. Nothing more. I did not want to feel regret afterwards. I wanted to do everything possible to help my child grow. I smelled the smell of spring, the promise of new life. I took time to really feel the small movements of my little girl. Looking back, this was the last month of her life.

And now, two years later, I walk and bike through spring-smells again. Yesterday I did it with my whole, not whole, family. We went to eat in a restaurant managed by volunteers who were all students to raise money for a good cause. We had some good laughs. The children were happy with a week of holiday and we were glad to be able to do go outside after we had flu for a week.

So there I am, with my Love and my four children. Pain pops up. I have to make every effort to not think of her, but often touch my bracelet with her name on it. I feel childish and say to myself: ‘Come on. You are rich. You have four big children around you who are laughing and making fun together. Who love each other even when one of them has behavioral problems and is showing that shamelessly.’

It works. A little bit. But again and again a wave of pain comes up, while I laugh with my daughter who almost looks like a student herself, just as those who are serving us. I am proud of my four and really happy with them. I realize again that this is the reality I need to live with. I will always lack one child. No matter how full my table is. No matter how full my heart is with love for these four. At the same time I miss my fifth and the pain is just as heavy as the joy and the gratefulness. It is a complicated cocktail of emotions. But we have to go through this and live through this last month of the second year.

First published in Dutch on February 23, 2019

Foto door David Jakab op

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