After taking a few months off, I went to SHARE last night. I found that while Autumn was still a very young baby, it was too difficult to support other loss parents while simultaneously struggling with having a rainbow baby at home and the emotions that followed the daily ins and outs. Now that Autumn has reached eight months, I felt that I was in a place where I could go to a meeting and not feel drained for days following.
The group was small, intimate, a mixture of losses within the past few months and babies that had been gone for more than a year. Those of us that sat on the side of “more than a year” began to unpack the changing landscape of Year Two, and how different it is than Year One.
Year One has all of the firsts. The first Christmas without the babies. Mother’s Day. Passing the day that would have been the Due Date. Arriving with the heaviest of hearts on the day One Year Later.
I am now more than Two Years Later, but in many ways it feels like less time. Intermingling my pregnancy with Autumn, I am approaching many of those dates with an inauspicious label such as The First Mother’s Day in Which I Have a Rainbow Baby.
Year Two means that fewer people remember. The birthday passes and fewer people reach out.
Year Two means people assume things are better. Things are better, in some respects. I don’t cry every single day. I am not as much of a mess as Year One. I look less harrowed, though my face will always bear the mark of innocence lost. Smiling more. Possibly mistaken for “must be ok now.”
Year Two means that the triggers are irregular and unexpected. I have heard the question “How many children do you have?” a hundred times. I know that I will encounter people who Don’t Know. The unexpected might be seeing a toddler that was born on the same day as my due date and suddenly feeling a wave of sadness thinking “Nelle should be that old.” Or watching Autumn’s personality emerge and wondering what Iris’s personality would have been.
During SHARE, I look around the room at the more recent losses and their pain is palpable. I want them to know that things will get better. And also to know that, in some ways, Year Two is harder than Year One.