One of the hardest things, for me, about planning for a second child is coming to terms with the fact that it wouldn’t be Lauren we’d bring home. As I’ve said before (many times), I want nothing more than to be pregnant again, to be trying for our rainbow child. But deep down, it breaks my heart – still – that I will never be able to bring Lauren home.

It’s actually not something I’d thought about until recently, now that we’re talking seriously about when we’ll try again. It hit me quite suddenly, out of the blue, that any child I bring home will not be Lauren. It’s still hard to accept.

Because that’s all I want, even a year later, even knowing that it will never happen. I just want my daughter.

Losing a child puts you in a place where the irrational can be completely and plausibly rational. It puts you in a place where you’re surrounded by all these crazy thoughts, and you know they’re crazy, but you can’t help listening to them and wondering if maybe they have a point, if maybe they are right after all. It puts you in a place where confusion is a normal, day-to-day thing. And then sometimes you come out of this crazy place and think, what just happened to me? Did I really think those things, feel those things? Was that me? How could I even think that?

And then you bury those thoughts and try to ignore them and go about your business, but they keep coming back to you at odd hours, and they hound you until you feel you really might be going crazy. Andyou’re not sure who you can talk to about it because what will they think? And then you just sit down one day and write about it and stop caring what people think, because it’s part of you and part of this life and you can’t deny that you have these thoughts sometimes, and maybe other people might just know what it feels like.

Sometimes, I wonder if I really want to have another child.

Granted, these “sometimes” are usually in that place right before sleep, when you’re tired enough to lie down and close your eyes and wait for sleep but not tired enough to let it take you easily. It’s that terrible time of night when your mind seems to exist just to torment you. When all you want is the blessed nothingness of sleep, the mind reels and bounces and careens off of every fear, anxiety, and dismay that might be cluttering up your subconscious. Often, the rest of your night is ruined.

It has taken me a long time to figure out why I feel this way at times. Because it’s not an always thing. It’s not even a most of the time thing. Most of the time, I want to try again for a baby so badly that the frustration at having to wait and be patient drives me nearly mental. It can be distracting.

So where does this sudden reluctance to have another baby come from? It’s hard to analyze it, because my initial reaction is to reject it, to push it away and deny that it ever, ever came into my mind.That’s not me, I have told myself, that’s just the crazy talking.

Maybe so, but it’s my crazy, and I have to deal with it.

Part of it, I think, is fear and self-defense. Lauren died; what if our second child dies? What if I get attached to it the way I got attached to her, and I lose it anyway? How can I possibly survive a second loss when the loss of Lauren weighs upon me so strongly still, now and forever? Why would I do that to myself, to Geordie, to our families? We have enough grief; the last thing we need is more. So the best way to protect myself – to protect all of us – is simply to not try again.

Another part of it is selfishness. It’s probably something that would have come up if we had married and lived together a while and not had Lauren at all. I like living with Geordie. I like having him all to myself.  I like that we have the freedom to do what we want, go where we want, and not worry about anything like who has to watch and entertain a child while the other showers/cooks dinner/does dishes/has some peace and quiet time. There’s a selfish part of me that doesn’t want to give that up. Honestly, this is easier to get over than the fear. I worried about that with Lauren at first, how we would deal with going from a couple (even for such a short amount of time) to a trio. I worried that Geordie would love her more than me. I think that’s something most new parents have to deal with eventually. And by the time we were preparing Lauren’s nursery, I’d stopped worrying about it. I had a feeling it would come up again once she had arrived, but I didn’t worry about it. I loved Geordie, and I loved Lauren because we were both a part of her. I was willing to let her in and give her all the space she needed. I know we’ll do the same with a second child. We won’t stop loving each other because we have a child to take care of. Our lives will be different, certainly, but that’s something we’ll adapt to because we want to.

And then there’s that part that knows that the rainbow child will not be Lauren. A place deep inside of me has a hard time accepting that. It has a hard time accepting everything, all of it, that Lauren died. It doesn’t show itself often, but when it does, it’s hideous and terrible to look at. Denial usually is. When it’s faced with the truth, it rages, and it leaves me wanting Lauren and only Lauren; no other child will do. I don’t want a replacement, I want my child, the child I have already carried and birthed.

This is why you must never tell the babylost that they can always have more children. No matter how many babies we bring home with us in the future, there will always be those who will never come home. We don’t have children to replace the ones lost; we have children because we want to have them.

That’s what puts the grief-monster in its place, what tames it and forces it back into its dark lair. I can’t bring Lauren home, but there is hope that I will, someday, bring home another child. Not because I want to replace Lauren but because I do want to have a living child to be a mother to. I want that. I want to carry Geordie’s child, I want to raise that child with him. It was something I wanted as soon as the shock of Lauren’s existence melted away. I want my family to be me and Geordie and our child.

Our children, really, because Lauren, too, is our family. I never imagined wanting one child, let alone two, but I do. I want Lauren, and I want the one who is not her, the one who is in our future. I want our rainbow baby, and not fear or selfishness or grief will change that. That baby is already a part of our family; we are only waiting for the day when he or she finally comes home.