In the days following Lauren’s silent birth, I knew that I would have to face that which hurt me the most: healthy, living babies. I could not avoid them. The first time we went into the grocery store the weekend after leaving the hospital, I turned into an aisle and there, standing at the other end, was a father carrying an infant, one that looked to be barely a month old. I spent the rest of the shopping trip unfocused, concerned only about avoiding catching another glimpse of these two. It was, after all, what I wanted for myself: to be able to carry my daughter around with me, not matter where I went. And from that moment, my strategy when encountering babies has always been to run away and hide from them. It was the safest way for me to deal with it all.

Even so, I knew I wouldn’t be able to run away forever, that I would have to face the truth of it someday. And I knew it would be sooner rather than later because of my cousin’s wife, who had announced her pregnancy about six weeks before Lauren was born. At the time, I had been happy for them – my cousin and his wife are an adorable couple, and they have one son who is really one of the sweetest kids I’ve ever met. It was nice to see their family growing again. When I lost Lauren, that happiness became tainted; other emotions snuck in, the strongest and most lasting of which was worry.

The babylost don’t see the world the same as others do. We know that nothing is guaranteed. We know that the worst can happen. And I knew that they came very close to losing their first son at birth. Even as my happiness for them was clouded with confusion and the faintest hint of envy, the strongest secondary emotion was fear. Doubly so considering that my child was not the only one to be lost to the family that September. One of my cousin’s brothers had married earlier in the year, and in the summer, they had learned they too were pregnant. In that strange twist that life sometimes has, my two cousins had children due on the exact same day. And then, the weekend before Lauren was born, my newlywed cousin’s wife suffered a miscarriage.

I cannot imagine what she has experienced. Terrible enough to lose your own child; how much more difficult could it be to have a constant reminder of what you lost? Of what you wished so much to have? The strength that must take, to bear that weight and keep on living, is tremendous. But she’s done it.

My cousins have married two absolutely marvelous women, both of them admirable in their own ways.

Fortunately, life is not all haze and darkness. This past Sunday, my cousin’s second child – also a boy – was born. He came about five weeks early, but he’s healthy and doing well. I’m looking forward to meeting him, the first baby I will have willingly encountered since losing my daughter. I don’t expect it to be easy, but it’s something I need to do. In those happy weeks before Lauren died, this was the child I had visions of her playing with at family reunions and holiday get-togethers, a second cousin who would be her own age. At the same time I continue to mourn my daughter and the life she will never have, I’m so grateful that this boy is now in our lives, because of all the other emotions that flooded me when I learned of his birth, hope was the strongest, the most prominent. After two lost babies, it is wonderful to welcome a healthy newborn into the family.

Human emotion is a complex thing. As raw and powerful as emotions can be on their own, they often twist around each other, combining into complex creatures that drive us to do what we do. For me, the birth of a child will always bring with it a hint of grief and confusion and envy. All of these, I think, are normal. They don’t disturb me, because stronger emotions are also present: relief that all is well, happiness that he has come into the family, and hope that there will be more like him. Happy, loved babies who will be welcomed with smiles and tears and relief. And celebration. Someday, perhaps not too far into the future, we will have rainbows to celebrate. I’m hopeful for the day when I can welcome my rainbow; I am just as eager for the day when I will meet my cousin’s rainbow as well.

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