Amidst the usual parent chatter about children there are a few questions that always make my heart sink a little. "How many kids do you have?", and "Are you going to have any more?". Those are questions that I always find myself stuttering awkwardly to answer. I still don't have a go to answer for how many kids I have. It depends on the person and the situation. If you're just meeting me in a casual social setting and I may never see you again you will probably get my easy answer of two children. If I suspect that we will continue to run into each other in social settings and I'm prepared for the awkward conversation that will follow you will get my real answer of two living children. If I'm particularily brave that day I might expand on my answer and say four children, two living and two that died at birth. But sometimes just getting those words out is too difficult.
As for the question of "Are you going to have any more?", that's a lot harder for me. The real, 100% honest answer is no. I am not going to have anymore children. And just typing those words onto the computer screen brings tears to my eyes. While I am so incredibly thankful to have my two amazing girls my heart breaks a little to know that we are done. I am not done. I don't think I will ever be done. But emotionally and physically I am spent. I have heard many Moms talk about how they knew they were done having kids. I have often heard the words, "When you are done having kids, you just know". It's like there is a sense of completion. Like that first, second, third or tenth child is it. You're family is complete. I don't think I will ever have that sense of completion. My family will always have a huge gaping hole with two children missing. And I know in my heart that no number of living children will fill that hole.
Having Victoria has done so much healing for my heart. But, she has not filled the hole. That's not why we chose to have another child. The loss of Penelope and James left a hole that cannot be filled. Not by another child, or another four children. All we can do is heal and try to find peace, and I find myself doing that every day.
We are approaching the third anniversary of James and Penelope's birth and death. So much has changed in those three years. Our family has gone from one child, to three children, to one child, to two children. It's been an emotional roller coaster. While I will always miss my twins, I love our family as it is today. My marriage has been put through the wringer and we have come out stronger than ever. We have seen each other at our weakest point, and helped build each other back up again. Our oldest daughter has experienced death and loss as no child should have to. She has a unique perspective on life and death and I love hearing her talk about her ideas of how her brother and sister live on in the universe. She has become a big sister to Victoria and taken on that role with full force. She is Victoria's favorite person and loves to make her smile and giggle. And our sweet rainbow baby Victoria has brought with her so much joy and light to our lives. She has been far from an easy baby. With colic and reflux she has kept us on our toes. Many sleepless nights and tears, from her and me. But everyday, through all of the frustration, I have felt nothing but thankful for her. When Penelope and James were born there was just silence. Their little bodies struggled to breathe with their tiny lungs, but they were to tiny to cry. So even though dealing with a fussy baby has it's moments, every time she cries I am reminded of how healthy and strong she is. For that I am grateful.
So my family is complete. Although it will never really feel that way. We are a family of six and we will stay that way. If I keep waiting for that moment when "I just know" that I'm done, I will wait forever.