One of the difficult symptoms of my grief after Benjamin died was painfully Empty Arms. It is strange. I don't know if I could really understand it without having lost a baby myself, but even though I held him for only one day, my arms seemed to think that he was still there. For literally months afterward, it felt like there was a huge empty chasm between them almost all the time.
At night it was the most torturous. I would sleep with the blanket that he had been wrapped in, only that didn't feel substantial enough, so sometimes it was a pillow, too. Maybe it's kind of like an amputee's phantom limb pain, only less physical and more emotional.
Church could be agonizingly difficult. My arms and lap stretched so terribly wide open. The only thing that helped was to hold one of my other sons. Luckily Hummer was up to that, so I would hold his huge 4- and then 5-year-old self on my lap and squeeze, trying to make the pain go away.
Even though I never heard Benjamin cry, I kept thinking I could hear him crying. With the boys home from school making all kinds of noise, and me trying to fix dinner, I would often pause suddenly because I thought I heard Benjamin and needed to go take care of him. (Incidentally, even now that Rosebud is here, I can be sitting in the recliner with her and Exacto, Fluffy, and Hummer all around me, and still have this sense of, "Where's Benjamin? I need to go make sure he's okay.")
When Rosebud was first placed in those aching arms of mine, the relief that swelled over me was like a tidal wave mixed with love specific to her. I couldn't stand to let her go to anyone else. But my blood pressure was so haywire from the recent surgery and epidural that I was shaking like a leaf in a hurricane, so that did kind of make it necessary for me to allow, say, DC to hold her.
And my parents, I guess. :)
I imagine the nurses who took care of me afterwards thought I was a nutcase. I literally held my new baby all night long most of the nights we were in the hospital. I groaned where the nursery came to get her. It was slightly ridiculous. But how could they understand the relief and gratitude I was finally feeling? From pain that had yawned open like a grand canyon I was finally delivered!
The relief of this seems to be quite separate from the grief of missing my youngest son. I have actually been a little surprised at how strong the sadness still is when I think of never seeing him again in this life--I still cry over his absence.
I would give absolutely anything to have Benjamin still here. Every time I take a picture of my boys with their new baby sister I yearn to see what that picture would have looked like with all of my children. I hate it when people look at our family and say, "Wow, three boys and now a girl finally!", never knowing that actually we have four sons. For the rest of my life, it will never be "the whole family" anywhere we go. That hurts and always will.
Oh, how grateful I am to be toting around a 9-pound-6-ounce baby all day! Yes, all day. :) I still am ravenous almost all the time to hold her. I have been known to hold her through a 2-hour nap or longer. We sleep most of the night with one of my arms around her.