Every year friends and acquaintances share pictures of their first born children on their birthdays. These pictures often come with some sentiment of how this child’s birth changed their lives and made them parents. For three years now, seeing those words has stung. Ever since losing you, my sweet baby, I have mourned that I would never be able to write that post.
In fact, I have struggled with making sense of exactly which of my children made me a mama. Some people say you become a parent as soon as you get a positive pregnancy test. I can understand that, yet I didn’t feel like a parent when I was carrying you in my body.
I felt like I was finally going to be a mom, something I had dreamed about in my future for so long.
I definitely didn’t feel like a parent after losing you. I felt further from motherhood than I had ever been before.
When we found out that our second baby, your brother, had died at the same point in pregnancy that we had found out you had died, I really didn’t feel like a mom. Yet I saw him, held him, and kissed him. For the moments that your dad and I held him, we felt like a family. We weren’t the kind of family we wanted to be, but we were a little family of three nonetheless.
There is no doubt that I feel like a mother to your sister, our incredible rainbow baby. She has made me a mother in all the ways I dreamed of being for so long. Having your sister here makes it so much easier to see myself as a mother to you and your brother, the two babies that came before her. But it wasn’t really her that made me a mama.
It was you. You, baby boy, made me a mama.
You were with us for 21 weeks. You grew in my belly for 17 weeks, and I carried your no longer developing body inside of mine, in the only home you’d ever know, for nearly four more weeks after that. We didn’t know then that you were not still growing for those three and a half weeks. We had you with us for many fun activities: visiting some of our best friends, exploring the city we love, a family wedding, celebrating a once in a lifetime World Series win, and a visit to the college where your dad and I started our relationship.
Your existence had so much joy with it. I long for the joy that we had when we believed that you would be joining our family soon.
It is still hard to see pictures of me and you together. I wish I could just look back at those and hold some joy for having gotten to spend that time pregnant with you, but it’s hard. It is painful to face the ways that your death changed me. I am the same person, yet in some fundamental ways I feel so different.
You made me a mama. I didn’t get to mother you in the ways I wanted to and longed to. I don’t get to make you laugh, rock you to sleep, or wipe away your tears like I do for your sister. I didn’t get to hold you in the way I held your brother, but you made me a mother nonetheless.
I feel the need to apologize to you for not electing to deliver you so that I could hold you. I feel guilty that we chose not to get your ashes, though we have the ashes of your brother. It just didn’t feel right to your daddy and I at the time. It didn’t make sense.
We didn’t have an understanding of how to live our lives as bereaved parents.
We didn’t feel like bereaved parents then. We were just lost without you, and it took months to feel less lost again. We thought having your ashes with us would have made us feel more lost rather than less.
At times, I feel bad that you have a nickname instead of a real first name. But I know that this is the only name that was appropriate for you. Your daddy nicknamed you Lentil early on in pregnancy, and it stuck. You were our Lentil then, and our Lentil you will always be.
In a few weeks we will pass the 3rd anniversary of finding out we would never get to bring you home with us.
It will have been three years since we said our goodbyes to you and you left my body. I will never forget the sensation of my empty belly, missing you for months to come. As we mark this 3rd anniversary, I want to acknowledge you.
I want you to know that I miss you. I carry you in my heart.
No matter how much time passes or how much more time I may spend mothering my other children more than you, you will always be my first baby. It’s not because I don’t want to mother you in those ways but because I never had the chance. We love you. We miss you. We wish you had never had to leave us. Thank you for making me a mama. I only wish I could have been your mama in the real world for much longer.