Being able to experience a pregnancy with Madeline is as adorable as you would expect it to be.

When we first found out we were expecting another, we told her right away. We knew she wouldn’t “get it” yet.  She would point to my belly and say “Baby in there!” all zealously, though we could tell she was just repeating what we had told her. After we asked her once if she wanted to kiss my bump, she did so more and more as the weeks passed, a lot of the time without prompt. She now calls the baby by her name–Joey. I swear, she gets more elated than I do when Daddy brings home new baby gear from the post office.

toddler feeing a baby doll - Franky's 23-week bump day blog: It's Not Just Us Anymore

“Mommy, that’s a Joey bed!”

“Joey shirt! Aw, so cute!”

“Joey play in there, mommy!”

If you think you can get enough of that, you would be absolutely wrong. Although, with these moments of great adoration, there is a small twinge of fear.

Madeline is at the age that if the worst happened, she probably wouldn’t remember. She would probably move on fairly effortlessly. If this COVID-19 pandemic taught us anything however, it is that she is certainly not as unaware or as unmoved as she appears to be.

Naturally, she is a very happy child. She never intentionally tries to push buttons, and we generally don’t have any power struggles between us. Madeline is simply a child that loves to be loved, and she loves making others feel the same way. Which is why it takes the wind out of me to catch her in those windows of emptiness. She misses her family, she misses her trips to “mimart” (Walmart). It may not be as bold as we feel it, it exists, though. It’s difficult, yet inevitable to know that she knows the feeling of loss. When something is missing, or not right, she feels that too. Most of even the worst emotions can be solved with a cuddle and a kiss, luckily.

That being said, it has still left me pondering how much her tiny little heart is carrying while we’re all confined to our home. A part of me wonders if the idea of Joey, or the concept of waiting for a baby sister, is what’s distracting her from mourning the derailment of her every day.

“Madeline, are you excited for Joey to come?”

“Oh, yes! I’m so excited mommy!”

This is my second pregnancy after loss. With that, there is a new layer of grief I had yet to be able to fully prepare for.

It has become even more apparent that Madeline will never get to be the little sister that she was supposed to be, before she becomes the big one. The possibility of being labeled as a “girl mom” when I came into motherhood as a “boy mom”, has also struck fear from time to time. Quite honestly, the fact of the matter is that families like ours, aren’t represented in the way that they should be. I want my girls to be able to find themselves in all of the characters they love watching.

But we’re not like every other family.

In the deepest crevices of my soul, I still hold so much resentment for not getting to be “a normal family”, or a “normal mom”. We have the added pressure of being as transparent as possible with our children. And yet, at least I fear being, or at least -being labeled- “grim” and “inappropriate” for talking about my son with my daughters. This may be apparent no matter how child-friendly we approach the discussion.

I’m continuously blindsided by the cocktail of mom guilt, trepidation, and a peculiar sense of jubilation I feel. Nothing could have prepared me for being pregnant with a rainbow while parenting one, too. Madeline has restored my faith in so many ways. The last thing I would want to do is to crush her even for a moment if things don’t go as planned. I dread the days where I know she internalizes my pain and worry, no matter how hard I try to mask it.

It’s easy to forget that as tangled up as I feel, my little person is in the knot with me too. She is counting on me to bring her baby sister home, just as much as I am.

Some days it feels all too much.

Others I feel grateful that I have her hand through it at all.

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