My sweet Zoe girl is going to turn one next month. Twelve months marks the end of the highest SIDS risk period which my husband and I used to celebrate with a huge sigh of relief. When we lost our son Leo, before the SIDS window opened up, our misinformed understanding of this tragic, mysterious death was thrown out the window.

Sisters with baby - I Always Wanted You

There are a lot of truths that I cannot un-know about pregnancy, infant, and child loss.

Sometimes I wish I could go back to being that mom who felt so certain that death couldn’t touch her children at such a young age; but I can’t. And seriously, if I really could go back in time, I’d go back and try to save my son’s life all over again.

As I reflect on the person I was the last time I had an 11 month old baby, it becomes so obvious that I’m merely a ghost of the person I used to be. I wonder how this will change my daughters. I think I’ve changed for the better, but I still have moments of self doubt and guilt for grieving.

This month, I wrote a letter to my baby girl Zoe that I want to share with you all. I’d bet that many of you can relate to this. How do you keep your child’s memory alive? How do you let your rainbow babies feel included in the memory of the family you were before your loss(es)?

For me, for right now, it’s writing to my girl, letting her know that I always wanted her.

***

Zoe,

Sometimes you see me hugging a white blanket with light blue polka dots and you wonder why I cry.

Sometimes you see me touch a photograph of a baby boy and you wonder why I kiss his cheek.

You hear your family around you speaking of a little boy and you wonder who he is.

The sad truth is that someday, when you understand a little better, I’ll have sit you down and explain who he was.

You see, Zoe, you have an older brother and at 27 days old you became older than he ever was. Nevertheless, there was a little boy, who stole my heart, whose death broke my heart, who is no longer here with us. You’ll never get to meet Leo or hold and kiss him the way we did but we do share in the same sadness that we will never get to know Leo.

You hear me tell people or quietly whisper to myself that he never should have died, that I want him back, that I would give the world for one brief moment with my boy. But there’s something I need to tell you, something that I pray is embedded deep within your heart and inner dialogue.

I do want Leo back. I do wish that he hadn’t died. I would give almost anything to have him back. But I wouldn’t, couldn’t even, not for half of a second, consider giving you up for him. I’ve always wanted you, even from before you were conceived.

It might feel like you live in the shadows of our loss (your loss too, really) but I need you to know that you are the warm sunshine on my heart that renews my faith in the human body. You give me hope, restore my faith, remind me to give grace. When I see your smile, when you scrunch your little button nose at me and reveal your four brand new teeth in your goofy way, I am reminded that my story didn’t end with Leo.

You are my rainbow baby and your sisters are my sunshine girls. We all lost Leo and maybe you were born with a little bit of a broken heart too. That is something I’ll never know. But our story began long ago and there have been times when it felt like it was the end, that there was no possible way to go on, and yet, here we all are.

I want your brother back, but I also want you. I’ve always wanted you. I’ll always want you. I hope you grow up knowing this and believing this so intensely that doubt will never creep in.

Thank you for being my daughter. You hold an important place in this family.

Love,
Mom

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