Out of all the questions that folks ask me all the time, I have a least favorite:
“Is this your first?”
When I was first asked that, I hesitated for a moment. Then I said yes. Of course I said yes, and I’ve said yes ever since. This person doesn’t know me from Adam, really, and doesn’t want or need to know my whole sad story, and if I tell them the truth it’ll just make them feel like a jerk for bringing it up.
Functionally, practically, emotionally, as far as this baby’s concerned, she’ll be our first.
But she’s not.
I am fairly expert at this point at navigating the pregnancy dating calendar, NFP, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Wikipedia pages for calendars of saints. This means that if there is even a chance I could get pregnant, I can figure out a due date up to two weeks before I even miss a period. This also means that my children have all had tentative names based on a saint or holiday before we even had confirmation of their existence. At first I just did this for kicks and giggles, but now I’m so grateful that I did. Because all my children have names, and I can’t forget when their birthdays would have been.
Scholastica was our first baby. An unwieldy name for so small a person, but she’s grown into it in memory. She was our baby of innocence, surprise, and overwhelming eagerness. Our baby that taught me quite suddenly that I wanted to be a mother, a fact I frankly wasn’t sure of before her. She didn’t make it to 8 weeks, but she’d changed our lives in ways I didn’t know were possible. She made me a mother, nearly three years before I would hold a baby of our own in my arms.
In the two Februaries since we lost her, it’s been too hard to remember her. But this year I’ve looked forward to it. We put it on the calendar. I made cupcakes.
And I know why I can make cupcakes this year – it’s because she has a little sister now. A little sister who doesn’t make up for her loss in any way, who doesn’t replace her as my eldest except in the eyes of this world – but who’s managed to open my heart enough that I can let myself remember. Let myself mourn, and celebrate, and go on living.
Happy birthday, Scholastica.