I just finished reading “Guess How Much I Love You” to Moxie twice in a row. She’s snoring softly now, face buried into my boob. She’s all clean after a bath and smelling like a sweet baby girl. Tears are drying on my cheeks. I cried both times when I read the last line of the classic story: “I love you right up to the moon — and back”.
It’s true. I now know a love unlike any other. This warm, snuggly baby in my arms, my living creation, has changed my world forever. As I gaze upon her my heart yearns for her big sister too, for all the moments we never had together, for the life that passed before my very eyes.
I connect with Poppy’s spirit and imagine she’s out there soaring around the moon and among the stars. The tears flow again, with tender sadness for what couldn’t be.
Until a few days ago there was a black and white photo of Poppy, Eli and me on the mantle above our fireplace. It is a somber portrait taken the day she was born. Eli holds our lifeless baby girl and I kiss her cheek. It is my “favorite” of the few images we have of Poppy. It captures everything— our love, her beauty, and the unimaginable heartbreak.
I asked Eli if we could take the picture off the mantle because it was breaking my heart to remember. Now that we have our thriving child I need a break from remembering the darkest day of my life.
A few weeks ago I started seeing my therapist again. She treated me after Poppy died. In therapy I can process the lingering anxiety around becoming a mother to a living child and the unrealistic expectations I had for myself.
I’d convinced myself that if Moxie was born safely I’d only be forever grateful. I’d never get frustrated. I’d only see the blessings of motherhood and never lament the trappings or duties of it.
But that was unrealistic, not only because no mother can maintain that level of “perfection” but also because I have suffered loss. Every new mother has to adjust. My history adds another layer of complexity to an already delicate and emotional moment in time.
I worked through a lot of anxiety during my last pregnancy. It took daily practices of faith and courage to believe that Moxie would live. Eli and I were on pins for 9 months.
We are overjoyed that our baby is here. We are a family at last. And we are adjusting. I’m coming out of a fog and I’m finally embracing a bright reality: Moxie is alive. My heart can relax. I have permission to love her — all the way to the moon and back. And I do.