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It’s been over four months since Zoe joined our family. Initially, I was caught up in doing what came instinctually: bonding with her, adjusting to life with two kids to care for, getting used to no sleep (funny how quickly we forget), etc. I was not only enjoying my new baby, but also enjoying the relief of being done with my PAL.

Now that the dust has settled and life is starting to look “normal”, all of the tougher emotions are coming out.

I knew parenting a baby after loss was going to be a challenge; a baby after loss in no way replaces other children. I knew that having another baby was not going to magically erase all of difficult and conflicting emotions that come with grief. I knew there would still be a lot of work to do to keep myself in a good headspace.

But I was completely unprepared for how much more I would miss my deceased babies now that I have a living one to care for. More than ever I wish I could hold them, sing to them, and experience everything else that I’m getting to experience with Zoe.

There are so many wonderful moments when I’m able to bond with Zoe; we’ll stare into each other’s eyes and just soak in love. But sometimes those moments are altered, for me, by a sudden sadness; sadness that I didn’t have the chance to do that with Zuri. A sense of frantic yearning will come over me, and I’ll search for a trace of her within Zoe, even though I know that both lives were created for unique and individual purposes.

Sometimes when I’m holding her as she sleeps, I’ll smell the top of Zoe’s head and wish that I could have breathed in the sweet smell of baby from the little one that I miscarried.

Please don’t misunderstand me, I am so thankful for my new baby. Her existence is a blessing that I do not take for granted. Zoe is not a replacement of the children that are gone, but rather an extension of the love and grace that God has poured out to me as I walk this journey where grief and joy coexist.

Caring for my “hope baby”- as I like to call her- is a physical manifestation of living where grief and joy unite. It reminds me of the sanctity of each life.

I’m struggling to find ways to keep the memory of my other children alive. It feels like it’s my responsibility to remind the world that their life matters, that they not be forgotten. A new baby brings so much excitement, but sometimes I can’t help but wish people would ask about what it feels like to have a baby after loss; the interest would help prevent my other children’s footprints from fading away.

I’m hopeful that with time, as time has been vital to the mending of my heart, I will find a way to make all of my children proud.

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