Last year, I started bonding with A when he was literally the size of a lentil - just a ball of cells. I immediately felt connected, began referring to he and I as, “us,” and thought about that gestating baby constantly. This is not the case during my present pregnancy.
One of the hang-ups, is that I am having trouble accepting this new baby because it is not A. Perhaps some of this is normal second pregnancy stuff where a mom questions her capacity to love another child as much as she loves her firstborn. He is the one I fell in love with. He is all I’ve known. He is my heart's desire. But he is gone. Gone, gone, gone.
These two babies, A and Dragon, are inextricably intertwined. If A had lived, I most likely wouldn't be pregnant again so soon and thus Dragon wouldn't exist. Plus A's brief life and inexplicable death have colored this new pregnancy and my outlook as a parent. Surely each baby is different and each child has their own personality, but I don't know A's personality all that well and Dragon and I are just getting acquainted.
My only other pregnancy and mothering experience is with A. Sometimes my mind slips and I swear I am standing in last year again - pregnant, wearing the same maternity clothes, consciously eating the same healthy foods - but reality comes back into focus and I am destroyed all over again; devastated that this baby in my womb, alive and kicking, is not A. This, of course, is quickly followed by a bout of guilt that I am doing Dragon a disservice.
But, I cannot stroke my growing belly and not want for the child that is missing. I cannot untangle my hope and love for this new child with the despair and anguish associated with my firstborn.
The acknowledgement that this new baby is not him, feels as crushing as when I watched the too-still ultrasound screen last October confirming the unfathomable.
I just want him. Even if Dragon makes it here safely, I'm still going to want A. Even if I go on to have a dozen living children, I will still want A. And my heart is not yet willing to accept that he will forever be absent.