Researcher Brené Brown posted on her social media recently: "Hit me with some situations that left you feeling bittersweet."
The days leading up to Autumn's birthday are always bittersweet for me.
Iris was due on July 28th and Autumn was born at the beginning of August. As I passed that July 28th date this year, I thought, "Iris would have been five. She would have been going into kindergarten this Fall." Yet, Autumn is here and she is turning four.
We have a bedtime routine where we sing the song from the book "Love You Forever" by Robert Munsch.
I'll love you forever
I'll like you for always
As long as I'm living
My baby you'll be
She likes to cup my chin in her hands while I sing. And then at the end she adds very loudly "MY BABY YOU'LL BE." Then she kisses me directly on the lips and I give her a hug.
A few weeks ago when I was tucking her in, I thought to myself, for the millionth time, "You wouldn't be here if your sisters had lived." That contradiction continues to get harder and easier.
Easier in that, now years later, the pain of loss isn't as fresh as it was. When Autumn was a baby, I often looked at her and thought, "But Nelle was my baby. Iris was my baby." It was easy to see one baby as another baby. I would get triggered by milestones and dates more easily.
Harder in that now, I can't imagine not having Autumn. She is effervescent, with a big personality and an even bigger heart. I can't say "I wish your sisters had lived" because to say that means that she wouldn't exist.
I have to look at her and say to myself: You're here, and it was a hard journey to get here. And I can't regret any parts of that journey, because if I did, I wouldn't have you. Nelle could have lived. Iris could have lived. Or we could have given up after two unexplained losses. In any of those scenarios, I wouldn't have Autumn.
It's almost like I have to stop wishing that my pregnancies with Nelle and Iris had turned out differently. They are instead part of the story about how Autumn joined our lives.
Autumn is here because her sisters are not. I never stop thinking that she is special. She is ever the reminder of loss and hope, intertwined into one tiny person.