Today is sixteen months since Paul and I felt the incredible surge of immediate, unconditional love for our perfect, tiny children - the kind of love parents get to realize each time a child is born - at the same time as the soul-crushing, breath-taking sorrow that only those of us who have lost our children can ever experience. I can't believe this huge amount of time has passed. In the early months it felt like time was both creeping and speeding by, and looking back at the ride we've been on since, holy cow. How it it sixteen months already when I remember it like it was just yesterday? And how surreal it is that we are finally at that awkward, grateful, sad place of mourning what we've lost, what we can never have back, that sixteen months of parenting dead children instead of living ones, while also holding the fear and hope of carrying new life.
When we started trying to conceive again those four ART cycles after our loss (and the many natural in between), each time I'd think, "Yes, if we do conceive now, I will have to say that this child wouldn't exist if we hadn't lost the babies, because I'd still be pregnant", or "...I'd still be postpartum", or ..."there's no way we'd try again this soon".
In reality, we should have two nearly 11-month old babies at home. We would - if we'd decided that, yes, we did still want to try for a third - be talking now about trying again. I could be more fertile after a live birth...it happens. We could have a living sibling for a living Aliya and Bennett. But it wouldn't be this sibling, conceived through IVF (which we wouldn't be ready for, and probably couldn't afford with twins in daycare). Even if we had done IVF and ICSI and PGD, we may not have so easily come to the decision of going forward with this pregnancy, knowing this child may have some challenges.
Baby loss changes things. It changes everything. And though I may not cry every day now (got that, stupid pregnant hormones?!), I still miss what we've lost every day, and wish for what we should have now, and struggle with balancing that with what we are so blessed to have today, one day at a time. I will be a different mother, and Paul a different father, than we ever would have been had things not gone so horribly wrong. I only hope we will be better parents for it.