Throughout my pregnancy with Victoria I had a mantra that helped get me though "One day at a time". When I was only 10 weeks along and I was puking all the time and terrified to see blood every time I went to the bathroom I would remind my self that I could get through today. When I was 22 weeks, the same week that I gave birth to Penelope and James, and I started to have contractions I reminded myself that I could get through today. Often, even thinking of the next day, let alone the weeks and months ahead of me was just too overwhelming. At times I would find myself in a panic and I would have to go back to my mantra, one day at a time.
It never really occurred to me that my mantra would also help me while parenting my rainbow baby. I just assumed that once she was born alive and healthy my anxiety would melt away and I would be a blissful parent. Almost 5 months in I have discovered that this is not the case. Some days are great. Victoria is no longer a needy newborn. Although she is by far fussier than Gwenevere ever was and wants to nurse more often than not, we are getting into our groove. I can put her down for short periods of time. Gwenevere is pretty understanding of me needing to share my attention between her and her sister. And two and a half years following the death of James and Penelope my grief has taken a back seat. However, there are still the hard days. The days where I feel my anxiety creeping up. The days when Victoria is crying, Gwenevere is whining and I am doubting that I could have ever managed twins and a two year old if I had the chance.
Parenting a baby after loss can be emotionally overwhelming. I am so incredibly in love with my daughter and I am so thankful that she is here with me. I know that I appreciate her so much more than I would if I had never gone through infant loss. But I also feel a longing for my twins. I look at Victoria and I can't help but wonder what her brother and sister would have been like. Would they have had her blond hair and dark eyes, or Gwenevere's dark hair and blue eyes. James already had a full head of dark hair when he was born. Every new thing that she does I grieve a little that James and Penelope will never get to reach that milestone. I also know that had Penelope and James lived, Victoria would not be here. It is a hard concept to grasp. I love all of my children and I could never choose who I would rather have with me. Of course I love Victoria and I am glad she is part of our family, it feels like she always belonged. But I also wish that my twins could be with us. Our family feels incomplete without them.
Parenting my rainbow baby has been more emotionally complex then I imagined it would be. Most days are good. But some days are hard. Some days I just want to cry, still. Grief has a funny way of showing up randomly when you least expect it. On those days that it feels like I will never stop missing my twins I try to go back to my pregnancy mantra. Once day at a time. Lately the good days outnumber the bad. I often find myself with tears of happiness welling up in my eyes while playing with my girls. At times I can't believe how lucky I am to have two wonderful daughters and an amazing husband too. So on the days that I am overwhelmed I can remind myself that I can get through the day. Tomorrow is a new day.