This day last year, I found out that I was pregnant with Theo. Even though it was just three months after losing Isobel, and I was nothing but terrified that I would lose another baby, I noticed that other people expected my new pregnancy to change how I felt about Isobel. The relief when I told people was apparent, they seemed to think that now I was going to be ok, now that I wouldn’t have to wait too long to be a parent in the normal sense. It seemed to be expected that I would suddenly be fine with pregnancy announcements and babies. This wholly inaccurate view of the power of a rainbow baby to rectify the previous loss has only become more apparent since Theo arrived safely in May.
Theo is the most incredible blessing and I recognise that I am beyond lucky to have been able to have another baby after losing Isobel. He is the cutest boy in existence, his smile melts my heart, I can’t help but laugh when he laughs, and the weight and warmth of him falling asleep in my arms brings me so much contentment. He is perfectly himself. But he is not Isobel. His presence does not negate the fact that I had a little girl, that she died, that I had to watch her turn blue and then bury her in a grave. Having Theo does not take away the thoughts of how my daughter, Isobel, should be here, how old she should be, what milestones she should be achieving now. That I have had two pregnancies and two babies, but I will only ever get to see one grow.
I would never expect Theo to heal my grief – what a terribly unfair and weighty expectation to place on a little baby who should only be cherished for himself, and not what he can do for me. In some ways, having him, has actually unearthed new aspects of grief I could only have previously imagined. When you experience the wonder of having a living child, it only makes you feel all the more deeply for the one that you have lost. When I see Theo being so adored by his Daddy, when I see him enthralled with a toy, smiling at a silly face or laughing at being thrown in the air, I feel so sad that Isobel missed out on a whole life full of love and joy. Before having Theo, my grief was mainly for myself and what I had been through, and missed out on. Now my grief has expanded to feel such sorrow that Isobel’s experience of life was so brief and incomplete. She was alive, and then she wasn’t, and that is still heartbreaking, it always will be, despite the fact that she has a living sibling.