To my lost little one,
I still think about you and wonder who you could have been. Your older brother is four and a half years old. You also have a younger sister who is one and a half years old. I thought about you today, as I watched your little sister giggling at your older brother’s antics. I wonder if you would have chosen to sit beside your sister and laugh, or chosen to stand up with your brother and put on a show. Both of your siblings are already funny, strong-willed characters. I think you would have been a funny, strong-willed character too.
On that horrible day over two years ago, I had a doctor’s appointment. It was supposed to be a routine checkup, but I felt dread as I drove towards the medical office building. The checkup went normally and I nearly left without saying anything. But I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. So, I asked for an ultrasound.
The silence in the dark ultrasound room was deafening. I stared at your image on the screen. After twelve weeks, you already looked like a baby. The ultrasound technician Kathy frantically traced my swollen belly with the probe. As she desperately searched for good news, I studied the gentle curve of your back and your round little head. I was instantly transported to a happier time. Two years earlier, in the same room, Kathy and I had looked at a similar image of your older brother. But your brother had been a small wiggling bundle of energy even back then. I remembered Kathy chuckling and saying, “Wow! You’re in trouble! This one’s a live wire!” I remember the two of us laughing together.
Not this time. There was nothing to laugh about. There was nothing moving on the screen. Just stillness.
“Oh, honey,” Kathy said softly. “There’s no heartbeat.” She laid a sympathetic hand on my shoulder. “I’m so sorry.” I saw the tears in her eyes and knew that she was. I just nodded silently when she told me that she would go and get my midwife.
Once she left the room, a wave of darkness crashed over me, almost suffocating me in sorrow and guilt. I looked at your motionless little body on the screen and whispered, “I’m so sorry. I was wrong.” I searched the screen for some sign of life, hoping that my apology would bring your soul back. I choked out one last plea. “I’m so sorry. Please come back to me.” But you didn’t come back. Your tiny body remained motionless.
My midwife entered the room just as I broke down sobbing. I should have looked at you again, but I didn’t realize that it would be the last time I would see you. I was ushered into another room where a doctor assured me that it wasn’t my fault. These things just happen. I listened to him as he walked me through what had to happen next, all the while thinking, you don’t understand. This is my fault.
After I drove away from the doctor’s office, I pulled into a parking lot, shut off the engine and wept. I apologized to you repeatedly. I’m so sorry that I did this to you. I’m so sorry that my doubts drove you away. I’m so sorry that I was scared to be an older parent to a second child. I’m so sorry that I wished it had taken longer to conceive you. I’m so sorry that I wanted a little more time alone with your older brother. I’m so sorry that I didn’t know if I could love you as much as I love him, because obviously I can. My heart broke because I already loved you so much.
To my darling little one, I don’t know if you can hear me, but I just wanted you to know that I still think of you. Even though I love your little sister with all of my heart, she can’t take your place. I dream of you running through the house with your siblings. I’m writing this because I want people to know that you existed and that you matter. You weren’t with me for very long, but you changed me forever. I’ll never forget you and I’ll always love you.