This I believe: My sadness has made me happier. Four years ago, I was a first time mother with my newborn daughter in my arms. Her birth had been moving, spiritual, and as I pulled her onto my chest I felt a surge of love like I had never imagined possible. But my daughter did not cry, and her heart was not beating. During her birth, Charlotte’s umbilical cord had become entangled, and she had died. It did not seem possible to overcome such a loss. All I wanted in the world was to take this baby, who I had only just seen and held for the first time, and love her in my arms for the rest of my life.
It took many months of deep sadness, loneliness, and heartache before I had the courage to begin to rebuild. My grief took hold of me from the inside out, tearing at my heart, my empty arms, and ringing ears. I wanted my baby back, and I did not want to move on. To be happy seemed to require forgetting. I would not, could not, forget her.
But time went on, and I began to see Charlotte in everything beautiful. I missed her deeply, but the pure love I felt for her was inspiring. I couldn’t let her short life be meaningless. We could not replace Charlotte, but we could continue the family that began with her.
When Liam was born, it seemed impossible that any mother could be more grateful for her child. His tiny, warm body, beating heart, the noises while he slept, all seemed like miracles. I held him all the time, cried constantly, and loved him fiercely. He looked just like Charlotte but he was a new life, a sweet little savior who brought laughter and delight into our home. As Liam grew, our amazement did not diminish, and our joy grew with him. We only regretted that he was alone.
Our third child, Aoife, was born just before Liam’s second birthday. To our amazement, we had been lucky again. Aoife was a quiet little baby, watchful and serene. Her soft hair and milky smell were unbearably beautiful. As with Liam, it seemed impossible that Aoife really would stay; and so each day felt like a delicious gift that must be taken advantage of to its fullest.
Liam and Aoife are not perfect. They cry, keep me up at night, and demand most of my time and energy. But nothing that they ask of me compares to the work of missing Charlotte. Knowing intimately the possibilities of fate, my love for them is steeped with gratitude so deep that it cuts to the very core of who I am. And out of this love comes a jubilant happiness. I have overcome enormous obstacles to come to where I am. I have built my new life, with my two new children, out of a very sad place. And my sadness has made me happier. This, I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.