The other week, Ellie and I were leaving our Gymboree class when she caught sight of a classmate's baby brother. Her animated pointing and talking about the "tiny baby" caught her teacher's ear, and she turned to me. "I think she's trying to give you a hint," she smiled. My eyes welled with tears, and I had to leave quickly.
You see, my little girl loves babies. She has five baby dolls at last count: Tiny Baby, Blue Baby, Yellow Baby, Green Baby, and one with a rattle inside that has yet to be named. She totes them with her around the house, to the playground, and on errands, feeds them and wraps them up to make them "toasty," and sleeps with them at night. She will spend at least half-an-hour looking at baby pictures of herself, proclaiming with pride on page after page, "Baby Eh-ee." When we see a baby at church or while running errands, she smiles and points: "Baby!" She is not happy until we get as close as is socially acceptable, closer still if she has anything to do with it.
One of the greatest griefs of this miscarriage is that Ellie is missing out on the chance to be a big sister. I know that having two children 20 months apart would have been chaotic and taxing in many ways, but I also know that Ellie would have loved her baby sister with every part of her little self, that she would have smothered and loved on little Avaleen with pure delight.
I pray that one day Ellie will still get the chance to be a big sister, but I know that even if she does, it will be different. She will be older. The gap between her and her sibling will be larger. She lost the chance to live life with the sister she wouldn't have remembered being without.
The other day I was scrolling through my Facebook news feed when a picture of a newborn baby appeared. I didn't even know the baby's family; it was one of those photos of a friend's friend that sometimes show up on my screen. But it didn't matter to Ellie. She squealed with joy: "Baby!" and leaned down to press her cheek against the screen, as if she were giving the baby a hug.
And all I could think about was what was lost - the real-life moment that might have been Ellie hugging her newborn sister in the hospital. No matter how many more babies join our family, no matter how many siblings Ellie has, we will never get to experience that moment. It, like so many other moments that might have been, part of the loss I feel, the grief I carry.