To My Son

To my son, the boy who loves all yellow foods, Maren Morris’s music, and wiggling at bedtime: there are so many things I want to say to you. I can’t seem to figure out how to say them out loud, so I decided to come here and write them down.

Today is August 17. It’s a Wednesday, and it’s cool enough outside that your Papa and I opened the windows to let the breeze in. I am eighteen weeks and one day pregnant with you. If all goes to plan and you’re brought into this world between thirty-six and thirty-seven weeks, that means that our halfway is eighteen-and-a-half weeks. That means that our halfway is two days from now.

When I watch the days go by, weeks thirty-six and -seven feel eons away. When I think of all the days that have to pass between now and then, I feel the way you probably will someday—like I’m crawling down a hallway that stretches much further than I think my mind and body can take me. But when I look in the rearview mirror, the days we’ve already lived together have sped by. I want the days ahead of us to slow down and speed up, simultaneously.

I cried last night because there are details of my pregnancy with you that are different from my pregnancy with your sister’s, and I’m terrified that someday, her details will become blurry at the edges. I’m terrified that the first time I hold you will erase the way she felt in my arms. I’m not sure it’s possible to forget the way your babies feel in your arms, but it scares me nonetheless. I’m terrified that my grief will scare you—that when I sob over every bonked noggin, every new “first” accomplishment, and every laugh that escapes your throat, you’ll think your mother is crazy. (Maybe I am a little.)

I never, ever took a single second with Eleanora for granted, but losing her has, inevitably, made every moment with you feel infinitely important. I wish I had written down every single day with her. I wrote down a lot of them, but I wish I’d captured them all. When I look in the rearview mirror, I wish that I’d written down every single day you and I have lived together, too.

The thing is, with her, it wasn’t scary. I wrote down the day she made me put strawberry icing on a hot cake (before letting it cool off) because she, like me, had no patience. I wrote down the day when I was twenty-eight weeks along and your dad and I went shopping and ate Chipotle in the car and used my belly as a plate. I wrote down the days of him painting her nursery. I wrote down the day it was finished. I wrote down the night before she died how excited I was for my maternity leave. I never in my wildest dreams would have imagined we’d lose her. When we did, every single word that I’d written suddenly felt like another knife to the heart.

Now, the fear of losing you comes as naturally as breathing. It’s scary to write down the days with you because reliving the written days of Eleanora’s life, after her death, is excruciating. I’m so, so, so thankful for the details we memorialized, but every time I read them, I’m reminded of how much love I lost. I’m scared of putting that much love to paper again because I’m scared of losing you, too.

But trying to resist any part of falling in love with you is impossible. Every time I feel you kick in response to hearing my voice (a new thing as of last week!), I have to hold back tears. You know me, you hear my tears, and you love me all the same. You don’t know pain or grief or suffering. You only know love. That’s what you’re made of, just like her.

There’s a soundbite floating around the internet right now of a woman saying, “I think you might’ve accidentally saved my life.” In so many ways, you have saved me. You’ve held my hand in the darkness and showed me again what light looks like. You’ve made me feel even closer to your sister. You’ve made your dad smile again. You’ve given me hope when I had none left. I’m still scared that every day with you will be our last, and maybe I always will be, but you’ve made even the worst days a whole lot better.

Right now, I don’t know who you resemble or how your laugh will sound or what your favorite color will be or what foods you’ll throw on the floor in disgust, but I know you, and I love you all the same.

I don’t know how I’ll ever handle your first day of school, but if, God willing, we get there, I know that we’ll raise you to be the kindest kid in your class.

I don’t know how I’ll ever let you get behind the wheel of a car, but I know that we will raise you to know that, above all else, we love you more than life itself.

I know that we’ll raise you to know your sister. Celebrating her birthday will be as normal to you as celebrating your own. I know that we’ll raise you to know that she watches over you, even now, even when you’re eighteen, even when you’re fifty-five.

I know that, because of you and your sister, I’m a stronger and kinder and better mom. Because of you and your sister, I have reason to smile on all the days we live together. I know that even though I can’t hold either of you, one until eighteen-and-a-half more weeks and one until heaven, you are both always with me.

I hope you both know how very much we love you.

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