Song for a Fifth Child

Dear Ms. Feverfew –

I just finished doing the most important job in the world: rocking your baby sister to sleep. As she drifted off, her chubby toddler hand pressed against my cheek, the loss of you weighed heavy. I find it distressing that moments like these – moments that should be so tender and joyful and sweet – are underscored by the loss of what was, what should have been, what will never be. As I play Kanga to my little Roo, I cannot help but think of you. I cannot help but imagine what your warm little 21-month old hand would have felt like pressed up against my lips and cheek.

But I will never know, because babies don’t keep.

Much love,



Song for a Fifth Child

    by Ruth Hulburt Hamilton

Mother, oh Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing and butter the bread,
Sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I’ve grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren’t her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(Lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
For children grow up, as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

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