“Mommy, is this baby going to die?”
It was a question that caught me off guard, those few words enough to feel as if the wind was knocked out of me. As my daughter rubbed my belly, her innocent question brought me to tears.
Is this baby going to die?
It’s a question that would have a lot of parents in shock, but for a mother like me, her innocent curiosity makes sense. As our lone surviving triplet, this is all my daughter knows. Born at 22 weeks gestation, she wasn’t expected to survive. She knows she was extremely sick and she knows that her brother and sister were too sick to survive.
That’s the reality for parents who have lost a child. How do you explain to your daughter that her identical sister died within hours of birth? How do you explain that even though her brother was by her side in the NICU, he never came home?
It’s no secret when you walk inside our home, there are memories of three perfect babies. There are pictures and little mementos of their time in the NICU. There are two small hearts engraved with initials, protecting the remains of our two children who are no longer here. And there’s a beautiful picture with our daughter, two shadows next to her as if her brother and sister were with us, making a perfect family of five.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to raising children both here on earth and in heaven. Parker and Abby will always be a part of our family and I will always be their mother. And whatever way we choose to honor our children through the years, our daughter, Peyton, will always know how special she is and what a stronger fighter she has been to overcome so many obstacles to be with us today.
Is this baby going to die? As I thought about my response, I gently hugged my daughter. To be honest, it’s a question I’ve thought about daily for months. That’s the fear that comes with pregnancy after loss. We know the worst possible outcome, we’ve experienced it firsthand, and we pray that the same fate won’t strike again. We find ourselves choosing hope instead of fear, but anxiety and grief creep up at random moments.
I looked at my daughter and smiled through the tears. “This baby isn’t going to die, she’s very healthy” I told my brave little girl. “That’s because Parker and Abby sent her to us,” I said.
My sweet child nodded and smiled as she looked at my belly. Life isn’t perfect, but this baby has rekindled our faith, giving us a glimmer of hope when we need it the most.