Since 2004, our trips to Carterville have included an element of sadness. My hometown is where we’ve buried Sam and Emilie. It’s tough not being able to visit them more often, but when they died Indiana didn’t seem like “home” enough to keep them here. It’s comforting to me to have them in Carterville, surrounded by people I knew—a guy from my high school, a former neighbor, the long-time local store owner.
I went to visit them by myself last Wednesday; I later found out from a friend that the day was National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. I always feel like a bad mom when I don’t go to see them every day when I’m home, but it seems weird to go to the cemetery without Andy. The two of us went together on Saturday before heading to lunch to get caught up with each other’s week.
After four years, visiting the cemetery has become normal to us, as evidenced by our “cemetery-and-pizza” lunch date. But you know what? It never stops sucking. I hate that family photos will never contain my whole family. I hate that I still cringe when I meet new people, dreading the “so, how many kids do you have?” questions. I hate that I can’t walk into Babies R Us to buy diapers without feeling a knot in the pit of my stomach. I hate that I couldn’t enjoy Henry and Eleanor’s pregnancy.
Losing Sam and Emilie, plus all of our other reproductive drama, changed my personality in every way, both good and bad. I’m less religious and more judgmental. But I’m also less focused on unimportant things and more grateful for my family. I believe that I’m a better mother to Henry and Eleanor because of what we went through. I have more patience with them than I ever thought I’d have. Even on days when I’m counting down the minutes to bedtime, I know that things could be a lot worse.
I don’t even think I’d have this blog if Sam and Emilie hadn’t taught me that every day with Henry and Eleanor is such a gift, and I should treasure my memories with them. I may be able to watch only two of my children grow up, but I’m a proud mother of four.