in pregnancy loss communities, when you have a living child after losing others, that child is called a "rainbow baby." it's like a rainbow after a storm: something beautiful after something turbulent and dark. when you have a living child before losing one, that child is called a "sunshine baby." it's like the bright happiness before the darkness rolls in.
today my son, my triple rainbow baby and sunshine baby all in one, turned nine. my sister sent around some old photos and videos from nine years ago, and it utterly astonishes me that much time has passed since i first held his tiny beautiful body in my arms. one photo, taken only a few days after we were home, shows me cradling his head against my heart, both of us at total peace. i couldn't stop looking at it, tears streaming down my face. only hours previously, my now-comparatively enormous son had crawled into my lap and nestled his head on my chest in exactly the same way, snuggling contentedly and naturally into my arms, without any thought or self-consciousness. i recognized the look on his 3-day old face as the same that appears on his 9-year-old face: the peace of being surrounded by love.
"i am grateful for all of it." i whispered these words out loud, looking at the photo. and i was thinking not just of him, but for the three that went before him and the one after, that cleared and tilled and fertilized and prepared the soil of my life to be his mother. the loss isn't forgotten because healing is not forgetting. healing is acknowledging the babies you’ve lost and also celebrating the joy of the babies who survive.
family lore (and a vivid memory that i have) has it that on my ninth birthday, my mother kneeled down, hugged me, looked me in the eye, and said "i can't believe my time with you is already halfway over." while my mom has mixed feelings about this tale, i have always remembered it as a blessing: i knew i'd been given wings long before i knew what that would practically mean. i didn't say any of this to my son today, but what i did think was, "i can't believe i've had so much time with you already, especially when i had no time at all with the others."
i'm thankful that time's boundaries don't apply to love.