For a while, I never had a place to be a normal mother. It is clear that I am not a normal mother in relation to the modern, privileged America I live in. Certainly in other parts of the world, and in other times, I would have been considered lucky: four of my five children are living. But here, now, I am different. Having lost a child my parenting was, at first, dominated by what wasn't there. Everything I did, every decision I made, was colored by my loss more than my gain. I felt the space every minute of every day.
It's hard for me to admit that things are different now, but they are. It has been eight years and eight months since I gave birth to my first daughter, Charlotte, who died during her birth. It was only eleven months later that my first and only son Liam was born and I was still reeling from the blow of his sister's loss. I parented him fiercely and defiantly, and I still do. Three more little girls followed Liam. Aoife was born twenty-three months after him, Fiona three years and eight months after that, and 18 months later Maeve made her entry.
My life is now a whirlwind of living, breathing needs. The mothering that grew from a void made by a tragic loss has become habit now. Although much of what I do does grow out of what I do not have, it has simply become who I am and how I live. I don't always see it as the tree that grew from the roots Charlotte gave me, because every day is so full that I don't always have time to take a step back and reflect.
And so I'm creating this new place where I can be that mother, one whose very foundation was built while it was crumbling beneath me, but has somehow grown strong in the years that have passed. I want to be able to write about being that mother of those who lived, knowing confidently that by embracing myself as an active, delighted mother of four living children has to be something that I have a place to celebrate.

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