As much as I want to have our rainbow baby, I’m terrified of the thought of it. I’m terrified to try again, terrified to lose again. I’m terrified of loving another wonderful little babe, only to have to give it up again. I’m terrified that my body will never be able to keep a baby alive as it should.

But mostly, when I think about the loss of another child, I’m terrified at the differences between Lauren’s birth and the birth of that second child. I will most likely have our second child in the States. If this child should happen to be stillborn too, I will get what I did not get with Lauren: the chance to hold him and weep over him and photograph him. Lauren received none of that consideration. While I might be able to keep another lost child with me for a few hours – time enough, perhaps, to memorize his features and etch them forever into my heart – I got only a few minutes with Lauren. And guilt fills me. Why didn’t I ask to hold her? Why didn’t I think to take pictures of her? Why didn’t I try to spend more time with her?

I’ve learned to accept the guilt I still feel about Lauren’s death. The cause will likely never be explained, and I can live with that. I don’t blame myself – too much – for what happened to her. But I feel so guilty that I didn’t try to make more memories of her. What kind of mother doesn’t try to take photographic memories of her baby? What kind of mother doesn’t think to hold her child? What kind of mother doesn’t insist on touching her baby, carressing the soft head, kissing the smooth forehead? What kind of mother doesn’t ask for a lock of hair as remembrance? I am less than the mother I wanted to be. Less than the mother Lauren deserved.

My greatest fear is losing anther child. I consider this a rational fear; I know that it can happen. It does happen. But an irrational part of me fears losing another child because I will do everything in my power to be a better mother a second time around. I will request photographs, I will ask for a lock of hair, I will hold my baby for as long as I need to. I will kiss his forehead and touch his toes and wrap his fingers around mine. I will do all the things I should have done with Lauren, all the things I can only do with her in my dreams. And I worry that this will mean that I love her less. I worry now that it means I didn’t love her enough. I didn’t do enough.

Emotions seem to have two sides to them: one rational and one irrational. A lot of my grief feels rational to me, but this guilt that comes with my grief, this guilt that whispers to me that I wasn’t good enough for Lauren, haunts me. I know it isn’t true. I make excuses for myself: I didn’t know what I could or could not do, I was in no state of mind to make those decisions, I was already mourning her. But the reality is that I didn’t do those things – I didn’t even think of them until I was back in my room and it was too late. I didn’t realize how limited my time with her was. I don’t even have that many photos of us when I was pregnant. How could I be so negligent?

But I try to live with it, this maternal guilt. I accept it as mine, even though I know that I love Lauren with everything that am and everything that I will be. I wanted her, so much, from the moment I saw her on the first ultrasound. I would have done anything to keep her safe. If I could go back to those moments after her birth, I would do it all the right way, the way I wish I had done it. But because I can’t go back and change things, the only thing I can do now is to go into that place in my heart where Lauren resides and do all the things I wish I could do. I hold her and rock her, I sing her to sleep. I count her little fingers and toes over and over again. I kiss her forehead as she sleeps. And when she wakes, I look into those newborn-blue eyes and say, “I’m sorry.”

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