I really, truly try not to compare the girls as they grow. Even though a part of me always goes, “Molly had 4 teeth by now!” or “Lucy is crawling so early! Molly didn’t crawl until seven months…” I try hard to recognize each of my girls as they hit their respective milestones. I know it doesn’t matter, anyway. They are healthy, and strong, and smart, and beautiful, and we are all so very blessed.
There is a shroud that falls over my heart when I think back on Molly’s eighth month, because when Molly was eight months old something happened that seized me by the throat and pushed my esophagus slightly to the left of center, so that even now when I swallow there is a space where hope used to live. I keep saying to Lee, I can’t even remember what Molly was like at eight months. I can’t even compare. When I think back to that time, I feel that empty space and a layer of fog wells in my eyes. The event that parallelled Molly’s eight-month birthday triggered an episode of postpartum depression, but there were family members who were facing immense pain with courage and poise and grace, and acknowledging my own grief, my own “not okay-ness”, my own “something isn’t right” felt selfish and weak and needlessly dramatic. So I alternated, in that eighth month, between rocking Molly in my arms, silently crying into her hair while she slept, and leaving – traveling for work whenever I had the chance because being around was a constant reminder that I didn’t deserve her, that my luck wasn’t fair, that losing her was possible.
I try not to compare. Really, I do. But it lingers close, this shadow, this crack in the veneer, this rawness. I find myself holding my breath, awake at night, checking in – am I okay? Are the shadows that were banished by time and therapy creeping their way back in? I hope not. Molly’s eighth month was engulfed by pain, but Lucy’s eighth month is graciously different. The event that triggered my stumble down the rabbit hole has left a crack in my little glass globe of a world, but the jagged edges get a little softer each time Molly takes my hand in hers; softer yet when Lucy run-crawls towards me, panting like a puppy; softer yet when my nephew falls asleep in my arms and I hold my breath watching him because he is exactly who I’ve been waiting for.
Molly and Lucy. Different kids, for sure. Different personalities. Different experiences. Different eighth months.