I’ve been reading a lot of pregnancy and baby loss blogs lately, and it’s both heartbreaking and inspiring to read the stories of families who have lost their precious little ones. Hardest of all, though, is seeing the images of their children. Over and over again, at nearly every blog I visit, there are the pictures of infants loved and lost, dressed in clothes that were supposed to be their going-home outfits and cuddled by their mourning families.

I used to think this was on the morbid side of things, but that was before I knew better. That was before I had a reason to think about why those pictures would be so important to a family and why one might come to regret not having them done.

Because my wish right now – besides actually having my daughter with me, which will always be my greatest wish that will never come true – is to have a picture of her. Immediately after the delivery, I did not have the presence of mind to think about asking for pictures. I’m not even sure if that’s something Japanese hospitals do or even allow. It wasn’t until later that night, when I closed my eyes to go to sleep and all I could see was Lauren, that I realized that was the only way I was ever going to see her. I would not be able to see her again, not as she was when she was born, not as she was when she was new and whole and belonging to us, to Geordie and me.

Worse still, I will never have anything tangible to hold and cherish, nothing to remind me of her face. I will never have anything to show to her grandparents; they will never know how beautiful and peaceful she looked. They will never see the slight curl of dark and still damp hair over her little ear, the soft patch of eyebrows over her closed eyes, or the gentle roundness of her cheeks. I will have nothing to show people when I tell them about Lauren; I will have only my memory, and that’s not something I can just hand over to people to help them see that she was real and beautiful.

Greatest of all is the fear that I will forget what she looked like, the curve of her chin and her little button nose. It was so brief, that moment with her – how can I make those few minutes stretch into a lifetime? As much as it hurts to see her sweet, sleeping face in my mind, it would be worse still to forget her. Right now, I can close my eyes and see her, but how long will that last? How long will it be before the image starts to fade and all I can do is guess at what I once saw every time I closed my eyes. I don’t want an idealized image of Lauren – I want her. I want to remember the small patches of red on her forehead and chin where she had lost skin during the delivery. I want to remember her tiny ears flattened down, her nearly lipless mouth opened in a perpetual yawn. She was beautiful to me as she was; she would have been beautiful to me no matter what she looked like.

But physical representation of Lauren has been lost to me now, and all I can do is cling to the memory I have of her. I cannot go back and tell myself that pictures are necessary, a comfort rather than a cruel reminder; I wasn’t ready to know that then. I wasn’t ready to think about it then. And now its too late.

Too late to help her, too late to save her, too late to take pictures of her, too late to hold her, too late to kiss her goodbye. It will always be too late.