02 September 2011

How to Love Them Both

Sometimes, I look down at my rounded belly and exclaim with wonder: Gosh, I'm pregnant again! The reality still catches me by surprise sometimes, even with all the overwhelming evidences that there is in fact, a little life growing and thriving inside me (and kicking, and rolling, and I'm pretty sure -- headbanging).

maternity: on the farm {EXPLORED}
Pregnant with Ewan
21 weeks
Pregnant with Baby #2

Being pregnant with this little one, I can't help but think of Ewan, and how it felt to be pregnant with him. On top of this, the reality of Ewan's impending first birthday alongside the approaching arrival of this second baby are brewing some tensions in me that are going to take some time to learn to reckon with.

Though I know it's impossible, I harbor a fear of forgetting Ewan -- not in my heart or in my memory, but in how we acknowledge him in our family life. Will having a second child (and possibly additional children) leave us little room to honor the memory of our first? Will the joy of a new baby eclipse the memory of the one we lost? Will the pictures of Ewan that currently don our fridge and our walls and that even decorate his sibling's room be covered up with photographs of memories that have yet to be made?

On the flip side of that, I wonder if our other children will ever feel like they are living in the shadow of the older brother they never got to know. What will I tell his siblings about him, and how will I tell them? Will they ever resent the way we love and remember him? Out of fear of forgetting Ewan in our family life, will they ever feel like I idealize him, speak of him too much, or grieve in an unnatural way?

Some of these questions must seem so silly. Even while I acknowledge this fear of forgetting, I concurrently recognize it to be impossible. And even while I acknowledge that it is right to be joyful in the lives of any additional children that come into our family, I never want this to eclipse the reality that Ewan was and is our first child, that he is and always will be a part of this family. And I never want those in my family who are among the living to feel as though his memory is thrust upon them in an unwelcome way.

I sit here with all these questions and I realize that the larger question at the root of it all is this: How do I love them both? 

How do I continue love the child that is gone, and the ones that are yet to be born? How will my heart stretch between earth and heaven? These questions, like so many others, cannot be answered by the asking and the wondering. It must be answered in the living of it, in the day to day reality into which we are about to enter.

I've heard it said that loss and grief have the power to expand your heart beyond its limits. And how could it not? In my one heart, I hold the grief and the ache and the wounds from the loss of my first, and the bubbling, effervescent, joyful hope from the approaching arrival of my second. They sit side by side, and I must give both their due.

I must learn to let my heart stretch wider to love them both.