Today, Piper is three months old. Everyone tells you that you're never really prepared for a newborn. The loss of sleep, being constantly covered in goo of some kind, and the complete shift in family dynamics is a bit jarring, I admit. But, that's not what I was unprepared for. What caught me off guard was the flood of emotions from not having Kenley. It was like being right back at the beginning. With the arrival of Piper, I felt like I'd lost Kenley all over again. There was (and is) this weird balance of being joyful in my second daughter's birth while still grieving my first daughter's death.
Every day, as I take care of Piper, I think about how I will never be able to take care of Kenley. When I give Piper a bath and scrub her soft baby belly, I think about how I never got to even see Kenley's belly. When I put socks on Piper's feet, I remember how I never got to touch Kenley's toes. When I look into Piper's eyes, I wish I could have seen Kenely's open.
Like any mom, I take pictures and videos of Piper all the time. Within just a few weeks of her birth, my phone was full of all sorts of poses and activities. I have videos of her farting, sneezing, cooing, and just laying there. I have pictures of her trying to smile, of her sitting in her swing, of her propped up on pillows. I have dozens of her just sleeping. I have four pictures of Kenley. I will never have more. I took more pictures of Piper in her first two days of life than I will ever have of Kenley. Every single time I take another picture on my phone and see the grid on my screen full of my youngest child, I am reminded of this.
When I go out and about, pushing Piper in her stroller through the mall or the park, people love to stop and look at her. They smile at her. They wave. They tell me "congratulations", and I say "thank you". And I want to say, "She isn't my only one, you know. She has a sister. A beautiful, wonderful sister."
It's a strange feeling. People see me, Mike, and Piper and they see a happy family. They don't see Kenley. I know she existed. Mike knows. Piper will know. But, strangers don't. And sometimes, it feels like I'm presenting a lie. A lie I can't dispel.
I post pictures of Piper on Facebook fairly often. She's my daughter. She is beautiful and wonderful and a super-genius. And I want to share her amazingness with the world. But, I also want the world to know I have another daughter. A daughter that didn't get the chance to be amazing. Sometimes, it feels like people are so happy that Piper is here because now they don't have to think about how sad it is that Kenley is gone. Sometimes, it feels like Kenley is fading from their memories because holding on to her is just too sad. I have a horrible, horrible fear that the world will forget her.
You see one. I have two.