I always imagined myself the mother of multiple children. It seemed like a simple enough task. If I wanted two or more children in my family, then all I needed to do was get pregnant, have a baby and repeat the process as desired.
As it turns out, getting pregnant has very little to do with bringing a baby home. My first two pregnancies ended in early miscarriages. In 2016, my daughter, Dorothy, was stillborn. A year after she died, we welcomed her sister, Frances–my first and only living, breathing baby.
With Frances’ arrival, I became a mother of two. But that’s not the way everyone sees it. For many, it seemed that the birth of Frances erased the death of Dorothy. It was like the answer to a cruel math equation where one living baby canceled out the baby who died.
I felt torn. Grieve the baby who died OR celebrate the baby who was born alive. It was as if others expected me to make a choice.
Please don’t expect me to choose between the child who is here and the one who isn’t. No parent could ever be expected to choose one child over another and yet it happens so often.
“If Dorothy had lived, you wouldn’t have Frances.”
“Everything worked out for the best.”
“Be grateful for the daughter you have and don’t worry so much about the daughter you lost.”
“You need to focus on your living child.”
Please don’t make me choose.
I am very aware of the logistics of having one child that is living and one child that is dead. I realize that they might not have ever existed in this world together. But, why must I choose?
Why do I have to choose between the one in my arms and the one in the picture frame? What mother could possibly choose which one of her children deserves her more? If my children were both living there would be no question about my ability to love them both. So, why do I have to choose now?
When it comes to parenting, life has already dealt me a pretty cruel hand. After everything I’ve endured to become a mother, I wish I could be trusted to parent my children.
Let me love them both. Let me remember one while I make memories with the other. Let me speak their names together even though they will always be apart. Just let me do my best to be a mother to both of my daughters.
Please understand that I can love them both. I can be a mother to both of them. I don’t have to choose who gets to be my daughter.
So, please don’t make me choose.
Let me have both of them–even though one is missing.