Just after my baby shower last summer, my brother and his fiancee planted some wildflowers in Cate’s honor at my parent’s house. Yesterday, she sent me a text message to show me that they were blooming.
And that Cate had visited the garden in her favorite form: a butterfly.
It’s oddly comforting that I feel like I see signs of Catherine everywhere. Maybe not so odd, since many loss moms I’ve come in contact with through the months since our termination have said the same thing.
Everyone has their own symbol for their loss baby. An animal, a color, a flower, the child’s name. It’s different for many of us. For the twinless twin parents, many of us think of the butterfly as the symbol for the baby we lost, maybe because of the Skye High Foundation’s purple butterflies.
Originally, a set of bears was our symbol for the girls. When we were in Vienna between our donor’s egg retrieval and our transfer day, we went to the zoo there. It was the day after we found out that we finally had embryos, after all this time. They had a polar bear at this zoo; I’d never seen one before, and he was just about the best thing ever playing with his safety cone. Before we left, I wanted to get our baby a souvenir, and Peter insisted we get two gifts “just in case.”
So we got a stuffed polar bear and a stuffed panda bear. Those bears were my good luck charms through my first trimester. I slept with them every single night. And then I felt safe, and I put them in the nursery. I got them back out after Cate’s diagnosis, and now Olivia takes her monthly growth photos with them.
Now, though, I see butterflies everywhere. Not a day goes by without seeing one fly past me on a walk or while I’m driving around.
When my friend Kali first told me about the purple butterflies, I latched onto the symbol immediately. A few days after our termination, I bought a necklace with a butterfly charm. The butterfly is made of two interlocking hearts – seemed fitting for my twin girls. I got the same butterfly tattooed on my arm not long ago.
I hung butterflies in Olivia’s nursery. I hosted a Painting with a Twist party where we painted a picture for both girls: a fox with a butterfly on her nose – Olivia and her winged sister.
Whenever I see a butterfly, I say hi to Catie. It’s like she’s coming by to check in on us. It’s not the same, of course, and never can be. But it’s a small comfort.