I don't know if I can adequately explain why that means so much to me. Obviously, I was pregnant with a real baby. Obviously, Calla was alive inside me. Obviously, she was going to be born, eventually.
OK, that last one was optimistic. I get that now.
But a baby living inside her mother hasn't yet been formally introduced to the world. Everyone is curious to know her, meet her, kiss and hug and hold her--certainly. C described the difference between a mother's love and a father's love like this: a mother begins her bond at conception, has a 9 month head start on everyone else. That love gets galvanized in pain when the baby is born. A father's love truly begins with holding, and rocking, and physically BEING WITH the baby. While he loves the baby, of course, their bond begins after birth.
This little world Calla and I shared was quiet, inward, secret. No one knew her like I did. When I read and sang to E, she would wriggle and squiggle in response. She loved when I ate chocolate. She kept me company on miles and miles of runs. Calla was my little sidekick (no pun intended, I guess).
While I realize our loss is different from any other--different from a miscarriage, which has its own grief and pain, different from losing a child who'd been born alive, lived part of his or her life--it is still the loss of a child. Calla was here. She was alive and real, even if no one else really knew her. C and I, and E and our families and friends, loved her already. We'll remember her always.
Why do I even feel like I have to explain this? Maybe it's because I'm afraid that as time passes, and life eventually goes on its merry way, my memory will fade. I will begin to question whether it was real, whether I really had her. Maybe it's because I'm afraid people will judge me for still being sad, years and years later.
I'm afraid that when someday, you look at me and see me smile, you'll think, "Whew! Glad she got over all that!"
No one tells you how this is supposed to work. But knowing that Calla was real, and that people know it, acknowledge it, remember it, makes me feel a little more normal.