Replacing Emily

Is replacing a child with another even possible?

I sit alone in my bed thinking about the events of the day. Thinking about the events of the past two years. Today we celebrated my daughter Emily’s second birthday.

Then I think of my friend who miscarried and her hatred of the comment, “Oh, you can just try again.”

Try to do what? Replace a lost child?

I find myself contemplating two things.

Two Important Truths

First, human beings deserve time to grieve. No matter who they are (birth parent, adoptive parent, expectant parent, hopeful adoptive parent, foster parent, foster child, adoptee, or any other human being), everyone is likely experiencing some sort of heartbreak. And it really is all right to grieve.

Second, all loving parents (whether biological or adoptive) are going to save a place in their heart for children they lose. And there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, it’s to be expected.

After Emily Doesn’t Replace Emily

I roll over in bed and look at the bassinet next to my bed. My sleeping son occupies it. I can hear his soft breathing quicken as he stirs. Then my thoughts turn to Emily again.

Emily was so full of life today. Just like a two-year-old should be. The light of the party, and the light of my life, even though she does not know this.

Her family views her as a heavenly treasure. I see their love for her in their eyes and in their smiles. Every good thing in their lives has Emily’s name etched upon it. She is the author to their happiness. I know Emily is where she is supposed to be.

Nevertheless, I was afraid when I had my son that I wouldn’t bond with him. I was afraid I had broken that mothering part of my heart. But whatever comes after is not necessarily replacing. My son is not replacing my daughter. It’s not possible. He was just born after her.

Coping with Insensitive Remarks

Some people told me he was a replacement child. Replacing what? My first-born daughter? Does she need to be replaced just because she’s in the arms of another? Of course not.

All at once, it comes back to me, those moments with my daughter in the hospital room.

Why do my arms ache?

I hold them across my chest trying to stifle my tears.

I just need to hold her—my baby. Please God, I need to hold her.

Just then I remember my son sleeping next to me. I have the thought to pick him up and hold him so my arms will feel content. To put him in her place, just for a moment.

But no. I will not. Emily cannot be replaced by him. I will not dishonor my daughter or my son with the idea that one can take the place of the other.

So I lay alone, in mourning and in remembrance of my daughter. My Emily.

All these thoughts bring tears to my eyes. I’m relieved by my tears because I know they are part of the healing process—one tear at a time.

Emily, no one can replace you.

I have come to this conclusion: No matter how many babies you carry out of the hospital, you never forget the one that you carried out in your heart, instead of your arms.

Irreplaceable Emily.