Tomorrow, May 26, 2017, was my second child’s due date. I will never get to meet this baby but s/he will always be a part of me. This is the letter I wrote to my second child after an excruciating incomplete miscarriage. I’ve included this letter in a memorial box I painted of our family (pictured in the feature photo of this post). The design is one I saw online when looking for support and found comfort in it. I do not know the original artist. Inside the box is the pregnancy test I took in September and the following letter as they are my only tangible relics of this child. I’m sharing this letter as part of my healing and to lessen the isolation many feel when grieving someone no one else knows exists.
I knew the day before I took the test that I was finally pregnant with you. It felt like a long time that we’d been trying. So, when I got up to take the test at 3am I was so excited when the pregnancy pee stick read, pregnant. I couldn’t go back to sleep. I got out the bright-yellow t-shirt I’d bought your older sister months before. The words ONLY CHILD were crossed out and underneath it said BIG SISTER. I laid out the shirt with a new diaper and waited for Azealia to wake up. It was September 15th.
Azealia, you and me got up at 6am and went out to see Dad who was getting ready for work. He kissed us good morning and continued getting ready for work. Making his lunch, running to the bathroom, keeping your sister out of the kitchen cabinets, not noticing the bright-yellow t-shirt or the bright yellow sun beams coming from me. He’s a dad and sometimes dads need time to catch on so I put Azealia in her high chair and started to get her breakfast ready. Dad said, “that’s a nice shirt.” and mommy’s heart fluttered, but dad went back to his cereal. A minute later Dad was looking at the shirt again. Confused. “What does that mean? Like, Azealia doesn’t have a big sister. I don’t get it. If you were pregnant we wouldn’t know if it was a boy or girl.”
I tried, Baby. I tried so hard not to laugh at your dad, but I couldn’t help it. “Azealia IS the big sister.” I told him. “She’s no longer an only child because she has a younger sibling.” Daddy was so happy! He jumped up and gave us all a big hug! We were all so happy.
Later, after I brought your big sister to daycare, I started to feel the cramps. I thought it was because you were my second baby and you were going to stretch mommy’s stomach out faster. I wasn’t worried. I went to the hospital and did the blood work the doctor wanted because it was taking so long to make you. When the doctor called I told her the good news. “We had a positive test this morning!”
“Great!” she said. “Everything feels ok? No bleeding or cramping?”
“Some cramping this morning.” I told her and there was a pause that was just a second too long.
“Okay, I’m just going to have you go do one more blood test to check your levels in a couple days. Just to make sure everything is progressing alright.” She told me to call her if there were any more problems. I started to worry.
I called your dad and let him talk me down because that what he does. He told me not to worry and to enjoy being pregnant and to take care of myself and you. So I did. The cramps stopped. I started to get tired. Another week went by and I started to feel sick. The doctor kept making me go back for more blood tests every few days because my “levels” were low for your age, but I googled it and found out that levels are different for everyone. We were fine. When you were six weeks old in mommy’s belly we went for your fist picture. I couldn’t’ wait to see your little heart-beat. We didn’t get to do your sister’s first picture until about nine weeks and I thought I’d lose my mind waiting.
I had to go alone because Daddy’s new job wouldn’t let him take a day off yet. I tried not to look too excited in the radiology waiting room because then people would know why I was there and you’re not supposed to tell people you’re pregnant until about 14 weeks just incase something happens. When we didn’t see you on the screen at first I wasn’t worried. We could just see the sack you’d be in on the tummy ultrasound, but that early it’s easier to see a baby with the wand. The tech let me empty my bladder before it burst and then started the less-than-glamorous probing. I’m not great at seeing things on an ultrasound, but I started to realize I still couldn’t see you.
Right when my heart was about to break the tech assured me that I’d gotten the dates wrong and that you were only five weeks in mommy’s belly. That’s why we couldn’t see you in there. I knew I wasn’t wrong and that she was, but I let us both believe her. I had to believe her while I was stuck there. Skewered on the elevated table.
More blood tests. Two more ultrasounds. Lots of calls with nurses. Finally, on October 13th, they told me you had stopped developing right around five weeks in mommy’s belly.
Mommy’s body broke down. I started sobbing, but my mind was in a different place. I thought maybe they made a mistake. Well, I knew they didn’t. But, I told myself they made a mistake and I kept this secret place in my mind where you were all right while the rest of my body crumbled onto the ground and I watched it happen, but I didn’t feel it in this small space that I crept and crammed myself into. It was sad to watch everything happen from that space. Like watching a really sad movie. You feel for the character, but you know it’s not you and you can walk away from the sadness.
I’m really not sure how to describe it, Baby. I knew I was hurting, but I didn’t know exactly how much or exactly why. I knew I loved you. I knew it before I made you. It took me longer to fall in love with your sister. Not because of anything she did. I think it was just because I’d never had a baby before. I didn’t know exactly what it meant to make an entire person who is her own self and who I had to protect and comfort and teach. But your sister taught me how to love someone more than myself and that’s why I loved you so early. I knew what you could be.
Your sister would have loved you, too! You were going to be born in May, just after her 2nd birthday. I’ll tell her about you when she’s a little older and can understand a little better why you’re not here. Did you know that Azealia learned to say “baby” the same week we made you? After we knew what happened, when she would say it, it felt like a little tickle and a pin prick both at the same time.
On October 28th, I gave birth to you. I felt the first contraction in the grocery store. We’d just gotten the ice cream and were about to leave anyway. By the time we got home I felt like I was having real, active labor contractions so I called the doctor. She told me to take Advil and use a heating pad. I have never in my life found a heating pad effective enough to relieve the feeling of being torn into two from the inside out. I fed your sister lunch with my regular, old heating pad tucked into my sweat pants and tried to smile through the pain so I wouldn’t scare her. I couldn’t do it. I started crying.
Finally I couldn’t take it anymore so I put Azealia in the living room and ran to the bathroom, but she was worried about me and insisted on following. Your sister sat on my lap and hugged me while you came out.
But, you didn’t leave me completely. Or maybe I wouldn’t let you go. The next time they took my blood to check my “levels” you were still there, but a little less. And the next time a little less. You stayed with me for a long time. I kept you with me for a long time. Mommy kept bleeding, but you’ve stayed with me through Halloween, then Veterans’ Day, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas, New Years and Valentine’s Day. Leaving just a little bit at a time so that mommy wouldn’t have to lose you all at once.
On March 4th Mommy had more blood work and for the first time in 28 weeks you weren’t there. I love you. I loved you before I made you. I never got to see you, or hold you in my arms, but I love you. You were real. I know it’s just a story, but it says in the Velveteen Rabbit, “Once you are real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.” I will always love you. You will always be part of me.
With all my love,