Dear Liam and Sebastian,
I’m trying to write about what it’s like to have experienced baby loss as I approach your 10th birthday. And what do I tell people? The mothers who have experienced this loss know the ache that never leaves. And they know the weight of grief that overwhelms in the first months and years after death somehow becomes something we can carry without so much struggle.
When you died, a gentle band of women met me along my walk through darkness to reassure me. “You are still breathing. Just keep breathing. See? You can make it through this,” said one. “You will laugh again and feel happiness and joy. It seems impossible but it will happen,” promised another. “The waves won’t always be so rough. Keep going.”
And after your baby brother was born, I was overwhelmed with love for him. And every milestone and experience felt like a miracle but it was also tinged with the reminder of what I missed with you two.
When I went into labor early with your baby sister, I was terrified that I was going to go be thrown back into grief. Or that I wasn’t going to survive as was going to leave my sweet toddler without his mother. But then she and I survived. The trauma wasn’t anything like losing you. And watching my sweet boy becoming a big brother made me wonder what you two would have been like. If only…
It has been a decade. That sounds like such a long time. And I have found myself giving words of encouragement to moms new to this grief. I am one of the mothers assuring them that the storm isn’t always so dark. The waves will calm. We gain strength so that the weight doesn’t feel so overwhelming.
I’m not sure what is ahead for me but I know that I try to live a life that honors you. I try to do good in your memory. And I hope to live a full and long life even though it means missing you that much longer.
If you were alive, I know our house would be noisier. Our grocery bill would be higher. Our cars would be bigger. Our hearts would be whole.
Your dad and I miss you every day. And we are surely changed. The path before us shifted when you died. The future we had imagined died then too. I still sometimes find myself imagining a life where you lived, and we still had our rainbow babies. It’s all noise and toys and shenanigans. Pretty much how it is now but louder.
I grieve what we miss because you aren’t here. Your laughs which we never heard. Your interests which we never learned about. Your personalities which we never got to see. And I also recognize the gifts that came from our awful grief. I wouldn’t wish this kind of loss on anyone. But those of us who know it are imbued with special perspectives.
I miss you both every day. And I know every day that we are so lucky to have these days with our living children. I feel so grateful for the strong support systems we had after you died. And I am grateful for the opportunity to help others through this grief in whatever little ways I can. I remember shortly after you died, sitting in support groups with mothers who were many years beyond their own losses. They could smile and laugh. They could tell their stories without tears. They gave me hope I would reach that point too. They showed me I wasn’t alone, no matter how isolating my grief made me feel.
I wish we were preparing to celebrate your birthday. Instead, I spend every year wary of summer. Some years, summer is fraught with heightened anxiety for me as August 5 approaches. And some years it isn’t. This has been a good summer so far. I love you. And I miss you. And I hope you would be proud of how we are doing.