The birth of my first daughter, Clara, came at the height of my faith transition. I often (somewhat jokingly) blame organizing "Wear Pants to Church Day" on a fit of post-partum induced madness. Nothing I ever do at 2:00 am comes without dire consequences.
In the aftermath of "Pants" (that name will never not be ridiculous,) I found myself raising two babies. The baby that gave me the scar on my abdomen, and the baby that broke open my chest and crushed my heart- my baby born of grief and agony- the child fathered by my loss of faith.
I loved them both, ferociously. I nurtured them both- through sleepless nights, through tears, through heartache- my twin babies grew.
Clara grew into a beautiful and happy toddler, now a precocious and wild little girl with a laugh that almost fills the infinite hole in my chest. She brings bright light to darkness and joy to pain.
Grief grew too. She grew into Hope and contentment. And just like her sister, she fills chasms with light. Sometimes, just like my other daughter, she rages- throws epic tantrums at injustice, and reminds me of the storm still raging deep inside me. In bad weather, both my scars ache with memory. Birthing two babies changed my body and my soul.
There is no going back.
Now, once again, I love a newborn. My third daughter, my wished-for child. I am trying to stay out of trouble this time. I do nothing at 2:00 am that could bring the onslaught of angry Mormons back into my life. (We had a brief scare with an op-ed in the paper, but we survived. I'm smarter now.)
Sometimes, I look around, looking for Marie's twin. Where is my fourth baby? Where is the metaphysical child born from chaos? It's strange raising just the one baby, to focus solely on nursing one spirit instead of two.
But Hope is still here, growing and learning. Just like with my other daughters, I imagine what she'll be like at 10, at 15, as an old lady weathered and strong. I've given her the responsibility of caring for me when I'm old. I rely on her to pull me away from sharp edges and steep cliffs.
This is life now. Me and three beautiful daughters- Clara, Hope, Marie. I find we raise each other. Mother each other. Love each other.