Thursday, May 2, 2013

Twenty-Five Months

I marked it on the calendar, the day came and went, but I still didn't know how to feel about it. According to my calculations, on April 22 Betsy reached exactly the age Haley was when she first arrived on our doorstep.

Watching Betsy advance happily through her sweet baby months has made me grieve all the more for what I have missed with Haley. Mathematically speaking, those twenty-five months aren't much. But they feel like a lot.
About 3 weeks after Haley arrived. 
I always feel that I am still literally one being with an infant, that their birth only widens the gap between our hearts and bodies a bit . And now, even though Betsy is a very independent little lady, she and I are still so closely attuned. I can understand almost every word she lisps, every reference she makes. When Betsy says, "Guck sneak up," Mark raises his eyebrows. But I can tell him, "She's telling you about how a duck walked across our front lawn and she wanted to sneak up on it." I know when she's getting frazzled, when she's hungry, when to distract her, when to reason with her, and when to just hold her for a while.

Her life has had so much consistency. She has slept almost every afternoon and every night in the same crib, with the same blankets, snuggled in by the same people, usually at the same times of day. She is surrounded every day by the same adoring cadre. She spoons oatmeal into her mouth almost every morning. I have watched over her for almost every hour of her life. And the hours she's spent away from any member of our immediate family number just a few handfuls.

No one person knows the full story of Haley's first twenty-five months. She lived with her parents, then her aunt, then her birth mother, then a shelter home, then the hospital, then with us. I don't know how many different places she lived in; she and her mother bounced from one shelter to the next. I know she was often left in bed with a bottle. I know she was loved by her birth mother and aunt. I know she didn't receive food at regular, trustworthy intervals. We assume she saw violence. I believe she was alternately coddled and neglected.

To me, it's so easy those first two years of a baby's life to give them love, consistency, attention, care, nurturing. But for Haley's well-meaning, loving birth mother, those things turned out to be impossible. We've been working to fill the holes ever since.

So now, when I lay Betsy in her crib and snuggle her into her favorite blanket, I often think of Haley. I wish that the love I'm here to give Betsy now could somehow feed Haley. I pray, "Make  it as if I had done this for Haley."


  1. You are doing all those things now for Haley. I think that is just as important. Bless you and your sweet family, Angela.