To the Baby I May Never Have

Dear Baby Who May Never Come to Be,

A year ago, I gave birth to my youngest child and with that, I gave birth to the possibility and hope of you. She was born in a birth story that wasn’t what I wanted, but she was warm, and snuggly, and perfect, and I just knew she couldn’t be my last one. I just knew, almost instantly, that we are meant to have one more. You.

But your daddy isn’t so sure and I don’t know that you will ever be anything more than a persistent and painful longing in my heart. I don’t know if we’ll ever get to meet, you and me, solid warm skin to solid warm skin. Will you ever leave the place of possibility and come into the now? Will you ever exist, except in the yearning that grips me from the inside and won’t let go? Will you ever exist, except in the divide that separates Daddy and I? You are there in that great crevice, small and fragile but also loud and big to me, because you wander through my thoughts a thousand times a day. You are there, but I fear you may never be here. With me. In my arms. The arms that long to hold you.

There are days when it’s as if God Himself has told me you will be mine. I am that sure of it. You feel so real to me that I can almost see your cherub face and smell your sweet newborn wetness and hear the tiny sighs and chirps that you would make in your sleep. Maybe it’s just muscle memory, given that I’ve had four before you, but it’s as if I can already feel the soft weight of you against my chest. Sometimes, I can even see the outline of you in a vision of our future. I can see how you would fit into our lives and I know you are exactly what’s intended for us. But then there are other days. Other days when it all feels like a beautiful dream someone wakes up from, tears on her cheeks and a sinking in her heart because she knows it’s not true and never will be. Those days are painful days, thinking of a life without you.

So there are lots of unknowns right now, Maybe Baby, and that is hard for me, who finds peace and security in knowing as much as I can always. But here is what I do know: I think of you often. I pray for you daily. I plan our lives as if you will be a part of it. I want you as much as I have ever wanted anything. And not just because I want to give birth again, which I do, very much. But because it feels as though there is room for one more inside this house, this family, and our hearts. Contrary to what I once believed, I’m not sure that this family is yet complete. I think we are waiting for you.

And if I’m being honest, in my heart, you belong to us already. You are ours, part of our story, a piece of my life and future and the fabric of who I am. Whether or not you ever exist in the here and now, one thing will always be true: you are mine and I am yours. The rest — all the details — is up to God. I will go to war for you, Baby. I will not let this break me, or Daddy, or the beautiful combination of Daddy and I together as best friends and life partners, but I won’t give up on you either. I will fight for you. I will fight for your existence, for your life. I will do all I can do. And then I will just release it into God’s hands. He is the All-Knowing and He knows me and He knows you. You, even the possibility of you, are His. I take comfort in that.

To me, you are kismet. And I don’t know if that’s intuition or foolish hope, but I believe there is a purpose to this desire I have inside of me. I hope that purpose is you. And I hope, with time, we’ll discover that you were always meant to be. Baby, you are wanted and loved. Come to me if you can. I’m waiting.

Love,

Your Maybe Mommy

I Just Keep Thinking

The other day, my friend moved away.

We never used this phrase, but I guess she was my best friend. She was the type of friend who “got” me. The type of friend I could count on when I needed it the most. She was one of the first to know when I got a positive pregnancy test and she was there when three of my kids were born. Sometimes, we laughed until we cried. Sometimes, we cried until we laughed. We could spend hours sipping coffee and talking and lose track of time. We could shop ourselves silly. She and her husband are listed as guardians for my kids on my will. She was that type of friend.

But she’s gone now, more than halfway across this vast country of ours, and I just keep thinking I’ll never find someone else like her. Who else understands my introverted side, my anxious side, my quiet side, my phone call-hating side, my i-drink-coffee-but-not-for-the-caffeine side like she does? Who else gets me like that?

And I just keep thinking, this is life, isn’t it? Full of pain, and loss, and grief. Full of good-byes. Life is fluid. Nothing stays the same forever. This is part of the human experience. This is what it is to be alive.

And I just keep thinking, my God, I’m so thankful. Thankful to be alive. Thankful to have a friend who makes it hard to say good-bye. Thankful for the highs and lows of life because they make me feel everything a little bit stronger, a little bit better. They’re like salt. They bring out the flavor.

And I just keep thinking, was it worth it? Would I do it again, would I put the effort into this friendship, knowing it might end with me helping to pack their life into a moving truck just before it drives away from here? From me?

And yes, it was.

And yes, I would.

I’d live these years, and this loss, all over again for another friend like her.

To My Baby, Who is Now One

To my sweet baby girl,

Yesterday, you turned one year old. The day before, I had the stomach flu and I barely got to hold you. I barely got to nurse you or feel the way you kick your legs with excitement when I pick you up or have your warm, solid weight in my arms. But for that one moment that I did? I wept.

I wept as you nursed and smiled at me, gripping one breast in your tiny hand and strumming my spaghetti strap with your other. I wept as I traced the roundness of your chubby cheeks and perfect little ear as I said goodbye to the baby that you are. The one who pulls my hair and laughs about it. The one who squawks like a baby bird any time you see food. The one who has two beloved stuffed kiwis and a soft white lamb that you carry around in your fists and your mouth as you army crawl from place to place. (You’re still not crawling for real and that’s okay.) I said goodbye to the baby who bites my nipple when you’re done eating. To the baby who reaches up for me every time I walk by. To the baby who just learned to clap and does it so proudly on command. I said goodbye to the baby, my precious sweet fourth baby, whose hair is just growing in and whose cheeks are still plump and round and who has rolls on her thighs that are to die for.

As I laid you in your crib at bedtime, I knew it wouldn’t happen all at once. You would wake up the next day, on your first birthday, with that same hair and cheeks and rolls. You would still love your kiwis and probably bite me too. You would still look like a baby. You would still feel like a baby. And if we’re being real here, you will always be my baby. Even once you have babies of your own. But little by little, I know you are growing, you are changing, you are gaining independence. You are needing me less.

The last year has gone by so fast and I spent so much of it preoccupied and distracted, processing your birth, wishing for another baby (just one more), managing three other children who are so much more demanding than you. Did I cherish you enough? Did I hold you enough? Did I tell you “I love you” enough? Was I enough for you?

Whether the answer is yes or no, one thing is certain: you have added so much joy and sunshine to our family and every day is better with you in it. When you awoke on your first birthday, you stood up in your crib and squealed at the sight of me. I knew that you would do that as you always do. (One day you won’t, but I knew you would then.) I hugged you and kissed you and wished you the happiest of birthdays and wept a little more because your party had been cancelled (ahem, stomach flu) and you wouldn’t get the celebration you deserved. You didn’t care because you were still surrounded by the people you love the most, but it hurts a mama’s heart.

Yesterday, you turned one as predictably as the sun rising. I knew you would stand in your crib and squeal. I knew you would still have barely-there blonde hair and round cheeks and squeezable thigh rolls. But the rest of your life? It’s yet unwritten. Who will you become and what wonderful things will you do? Will you have a younger sibling or not? Where will you go in your life? What fantastic places will you visit? What incredible, unexpected things will become your passion and set you on fire? Baby girl, your life is just beginning and I am so excited to see it unfold.

I hope that I treasured every detail of you in your first year, my darling, but I’m going to work even harder at it in all the years to come. I know they’ll fly by. I know you’ll be graduating in a flash. Please, please take your time with this whole growing-up thing. Don’t be in a hurry. Childhood is wonder and awe and magic. Enjoy it and I’ll be right there beside you, holding your hand when I need to, letting you fly when you’re ready. It’s going to be a wonderful life.

Happy first birthday, sweet girl! May you always know how loved you are.

Love forever and ever,

your mama