I have a small tribute to my daughters on a silver tray in our master bedroom.
- A box containing ultrasound photos, cards, the program from the Walk to Remember we did last year, and other small items.
- A picture of the tree where their ashes are scattered, drawn by my aunt
- A Japanese Jizo statue, guardian of unborn, miscarried, and stillborn babies
- Three tiny, silver photo frames; two have their footprints and one has a picture of Theo and Quentin together.
- Two candles from a bereaved parents’ workshop I attended
- Over the tray is hanging a framed print that says “I will always wonder who you would have been.”
- Another framed print is nearby, a beach scene with two starfish and the names “Nelle + Iris” scrolled in the sky.
I wear a ring, daily, that has an imprint of a heart on the outside and their names inscribed on the inside. I also have a necklace that a friend gave me that has their names and birthdates delicately hanging from tiny pendants. The tattoo on my back has the birthdates of all four of my children.
I rolled over in bed this morning and looked at my little space that honors my daughters and was suddenly hit with panic about adding a third name, another tribute to a lost baby. I could replace the photo of Theo and Quentin with a third set of footprints. But what about the print of two starfish? The engraved jewelry? The two candles? It was a fleeting moment as I tried to reassure myself that it won’t happen.
The tattoo. I already have planned out in my head needing to go back to add a fifth date. I realized that in almost all of my prior writing, I have said “my four children” – still not mentally acknowledging the fifth. I think it was only on Father’s Day a few weeks ago that I recall consciously writing “five children.” There is a fifth, regardless of outcome, that needs to be acknowledged with permanence in my life.
I started experiencing contractions late in the afternoon yesterday. Deep breath; I knew what to do in order to determine real versus Braxton Hicks. First I did kick counts to ensure movement was fine. Then I lay quietly to count time between contractions and duration, to ensure they were not increasing in intensity or frequency. Feeling the baby move was my biggest fear, so once I got to the ten kicks I was able to calm a bit. I found myself analyzing every tightening of my abdomen, trying to pull from the far corners of my mind whether or not it felt “normal.” It was a paradoxical moment of wanting desperately for everything to be over and that this was real labor, and knowing the healthiest outcome would be to hang tight for a few more weeks. Finally, everything subsided. And the countdown is now 39 days.