This post has been a tremendously difficult one to write. I’ve re-written it thrice, deleted all of it, and found myself having to start all over again.
I struggle with how much of my personal life I want to put into this space, because, while I love to write, I am also fiercely protective over things I want to stay private.
So here goes:
One week ago, when Sophie Rose turned 7 months old, I took out this pair of shoes, little pale grey crib shoes – and put them on for her. They fit snug, and in that moment, I was overcome by a wave of emotion so strong that my head hurt.
I looked at her, smiling and babbling at me, raising her dimpled little arms for a hug, and my heart was so full – so very very full.
I remember when we first saw those shoes when we were in Italy, a trip we took to escape broken hearts and open wounds after losing our baby boy at almost 14 weeks.
I knew I had to have them the moment I touched them. Those tiny, perfect shoes were Hope. Waiting to be put on pink baby feet and tiny shell-like toes, waiting for their laces to be pulled undone by chubby, inquisitive fingers and for K to tie them back into a perfect bow.
Waiting for the little angel who would fill them as surely as he or she would fill our lives and that awful aching emptiness left behind by our baby boy who we never had the chance to meet, to hold, to kiss.
Maybe one day I will be able to talk about the day that we lost him, but right now I am still unable to talk or think about it without breaking inside.
That trip, we went from church to church, lighting candles and praying for a child. Girl or boy, it didn’t matter, just a happy, healthy baby with a smile that would be beautiful a hundred times over to us. I prayed for my little boy, taking comfort in the fact that he went straight to the arms of God and his angels.
Most times I would cry as I prayed, but every time I reached out to God in my hopelessness, I would feel His warmth on my face and an assuring presence. I heard an unspoken promise, pulling me out of my despair.
It was that promise, and those shoes, that kept me tethered during my pregnancy.
The first three months when I was fraught with anxiety, nausea and above all those terrible thoughts that we would lose another baby. I remember sobbing in bed when I spotted, refusing to move for hours for fear that the bleeding would not stop.
Those middle months, full of promise and joy as my belly grew round and my face turned soft. When I first felt those kicks, so strong and so steady, I looked at the shoes and I was filled with thankfulness.
The final days, when the worry returned and the yearning grew, I looked at those shoes sitting on her little dresser in her nursery we had decorated with love and dreams, and held on, whispering to Sophie Rose in my womb to stay safe just a little while longer.
And now, we have come full circle. Those shoes now fit perfectly on Sophie’s feet the same way she fit perfectly in our lives from the day she arrived – red and crying and screaming but oh, so beautiful!
Sophie Rose, at 7 months you are happiness. Your shrieks of laughter, little giggles and cheeky grin delight us and those around us endlessly.
You love peek-a-boo and can even lift your blanket up and down to show you want to play! You still (kind of) hate baths but you seem to enjoy banging away on your mini-piano as your audience of two watches on with rapt expressions.
You love your fur-brother Benjy and he’s the first one you want to hug in the mornings, even though he hasn’t quite taken to you yet. When we call out “bao bao!” you stretch out your arms so we can pick you up and dance around the room.
You still love bread and you’ve gotten so good at feeding yourself – you can pick up your happy puffs with a pincer grasp and although you sometimes miss your little rosebud mouth, you practically bounce with excitement when we clap and tell you you’ve done awesome!
And at night, I watch your Papa putting you to sleep, rocking you gently as he hums under his breath, and I see you reach out to stroke his face like it is the last thing you want to see before you drift off into slumber and the sight never fails to move me.
With you, la vie en rose. We see life through rose-tinted lenses again and everything is made new.
Happy 7 months, my little Rose, our Rainbow Baby.
Your Mama and Papa.