When you're a mother, not a day goes by that you don't think about your children. Maybe you drop your kids off at school, then go to the store and see something they’d like. Maybe you're with a friend, but she brings her child and you instantly miss your own. Maybe you drive past a school and wonder how your kid is doing in class. You constantly think about your kid, and the same holds true for loss moms. In fact, there are so many ways I remember the baby I lost every day.
I can understand how, to some, thinking about a baby that died might seem or sound or appear strange. However, it really isn't. It isn't morbid or a form of masochism. I’m not living in the past or living in grief. I'm not "refusing to move on." It’s been several years since I lost my daughter to prematurity, and while the fact that she’s no longer with us does always fill me with sadness, I am also so happy to think of her. I like remembering who she was and thinking about who she might have been, because she was a real person. She lived a short life, but she lived nonetheless. She was with me, for however brief a moment, and her existence is more than worth remembering.
So while some moms are thinking about their kids in daycare while they're perusing the cereal aisle, or wondering how they're kid is doing in class when they pass a school, I'm remembering my daughter in the following ways, each and every day:
Whenever I Run Into Anything About Mermaids
We didn’t get to spend much time with our daughter. She was born when I was five months pregnant and only lived for a few hours. However, one of my most vivid memories is watching The Little Mermaid and feeling her kick the inside of my belly the whole time. As such, my partner and I have made a connection to all things mermaid. Mermaids hold an extra special place in our hearts.
When I See Kids The Same Age As She Should Be Now
Whenever I meet another child (especially a little girl) who is the same age as my daughter would be, I feel a little flutter in my heart. I try to picture her being the same size, doing the same things as that child is doing, playing with the same toys, and talking in the same way.
When I See Or Hear Her Name
My daughter’s name is Margaret, which can often be shortened to Maggie, Meg, or even Peggy. While she was named after a relative of my husband’s, she also has other namesakes.
So when I hear her name or see some of the characters that I also somewhat named her after (Maggie Simpson, Meg March from Little Women, or Peggy Olsen from Mad Men), I think of her. I start to wonder what she would have been like had she gotten a shot at life.
When I See Her Brother And Imagine How Much (Or How Little) She Might’ve Looked Like Him
Every so often, I will stare at my son and wonder if his sister would have looked anything like him. My son’s hair is fairly long and folks are often mistaking him for a little girl. It makes me squint just a bit to try and imagine what she would look like now were she still around.
When I Find A Cute Item I Think She Would Have Liked
It is so hard sometimes, being mom to a little boy and thinking about what it would be like to have my little girl with me. While I know that gender is a social construct, I also know that I often fail to be as gender neutral as I should be. I end up buying my son more “boy-oriented” clothing and lament that I’ll probably never get to buy my child a pretty dress or cute bows. I think about how I might have played dress-up with my daughter, or see cute playhouses that my son doesn’t seem to have any interest in and wonder if my daughter would have been interested in them instead. It’s bittersweet.
When Her Father Mentions Her
My partner and I don’t talk about our daughter every single day anymore, but we still mention her from time to time. For example, we were at the ballpark the other day and my husband noticed a vendor sign that said Maggie’s Something-or-another. He pointed it out and smiled. It was that loving and heartbreaking smile we always give each other when we think of our daughter.
If I Drink Root Beer That Day
One of my biggest cravings while I was pregnant with my daughter was root beer. Before I was pregnant, I hadn’t drank any root beer since I was a child. It was just never really something I enjoyed, but my daughter seemed to demand it when she was inside my stomach.
If Someone Mentions Her
Most people I know don’t mention my daughter. I know it’s kind of an uncomfortable topic and no one knows how to go about it, so I don’t really blame anyone. However, there are a few moments when someone will bring her up, and while it makes me sad it also makes me really happy she’s still remembered by other people, too.
When I Write About Child Loss
If you’re at all familiar with my work, you'll know that I write a lot about child loss rather frequently. I’ve written about my personal experience, about how to help those who have been through loss, about what it’s like to have a rainbow baby, and so much more. So you can bet that every single time I write about loss or anything related, I always, always, always think of my daughter. It can be hard on those days, sometimes, but it’s nice to know that I can help others who might be going through a loss, too. I take comfort in the thought that, at the very least, my daughter's memory lives on when I help others.