Henley, Clarabelle, Rowen, Rory. This is the name order of our children. But my days look like this:
I have two children, but I am the mother of four. There are two babies I carry only in my heart, two who I don’t even know if they’re girls or boys, who only live in memory as the positive pregnancy test and subsequent loss, barely more than a normal monthly period.
It’s especially strange and bittersweet to think that neither of the babies I have would exist if the others had made it. Rowen would be ten months old this month, but instead, I have five month old Rory. As much as I wish I hadn’t miscarried at all, I’m so glad to be Rory’s mom. I’m so glad to have him. And unlike his sister, he really is only here because Rowen isn’t. This is a thing I can’t work out in my mind as joy or grief, misfortune or blessing. Those feelings need to coexist when I just think of his existence.
But that is kind of always true, isn’t it? Just about any good thing we have in life comes at the cost of some other good “could have been.” Our stories are formed from one path chosen over another, life woven over a sequence of events that span before us, almost as if we don’t have any say in the outcomes anyway.
I’m writing this on a mere three hours of sleep. As frustrating as that is, I’m able to be so thankful for this little boy who had to practice roaring all hours last night. I love him and I love being his mom. I get to be this sleep deprived because he is here, in the room next to mine, gleefully awake at one and two and three in the morning. It’s not ok but also it is. I forgive him. This time in life is short and I’m grateful for it.
When Rowen’s due date was approaching last October, it loomed. I debated naming this baby, but feared I’d forget he or she ever existed if I didn’t. We searched and searched for names, rejecting one after another. I kept coming back to Rowen.
At the time, we had Rory’s gender reveal sonogram hidden in a sealed envelope. I was waiting for the first due date to pass, for us to find a name for the first baby, before knowing what the next would be. I had to honor the first pregnancy before I could move forward in full joy in the one underway.
I had a few years earlier planned that if we ever had two boy twins or boy/girl twins, I’d name them Rory and Rowen. Garth and I always, from the very beginning of thinking about having kids, liked the name Rory for a boy, so we were pretty set on it. It’s also why Rory wasn’t a contender for the baby we lost, because we didn’t know the sex, and the name wasn’t as gender neutral as we wanted.
So we finally settled on Rowen. Rowen means, simply, “red,” something painful and true in our case, far too apt. I think I knew then that the baby filling my 24 week belly was a boy. We had our Rowen, so then Rory must be on the way, I told Garth. And so, when his sex was revealed, there was little question to what his name would be.
Rowen and Rory may not be twins, but one would not exist without the other. I’ll never forget Rowen, because I have my Rory.
And when I’m sad about the precious babies I’ll never met earthside, I look at these two miracle rainbow babies and think of how good God really is. I’m their mom because I’m not someone else’s, and that’s life. And aren’t they precious, anyway? Their love for each other bolsters me any day.
“For the Son of God, Jesus Christ… was not Yes and No, but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why it is through him that we utter our Amen to God for his glory.”
2 Corinthians 1:19-20