When I was pregnant with my first in 2014, I took my then 11-year-old niece shopping. In a store at the mall, I saw a mom who was likely younger than me. I was 31 years old at the time. I saw her for just a moment but it was long enough to peek at her cute baby in a J.J. Cole Bundle Me in her car seat/stroller. I made a mental note to add a Bundle Me to my registry. It looked so cozy.

I remember thinking at the time, “Me next, please.” I knew nothing about this woman but I knew that I was ready for what I assumed she had: a loving relationship with her beautiful baby, the time to wander around the mall, a sense of calm that surrounded her.

When you lose a baby at any stage, it’s often said that you sadly lose the hopes and dreams you had for that child. This is 100 percent true in my opinion. For me, in addition to that huge hole in my wished-for future, there was another layer of loss that is harder to describe: I also lost a version of myself that was shifting and growing, one that I was embracing. The me that was ready to be a mom.

Because I was expecting a new child in my life who would become mine and my husband Matt’s responsibility to parent, something very big had changed. I was growing a bigger sense of selflessness.

Suddenly, it wasn’t about me. And I had learned this in many ways up until that point, of course. I grew up one of four children, I had important relationships with others. But at the end of the day, the thought of being 100 percent responsible for another human being meant I needed to make a LOT more room in my life.

At that point I was ten years into my teaching career. I had simultaneously gone after things I really wanted – my music degree, teaching degree, and career – and waited patiently for things that I wanted that seemed less in my control – I was married and divorced in my 20s, I was finally going to be a mom. Me next, please. I’m trying to do everything right. I know there have been bumps along the way. But this, I’m ready for this. I really am. Seeing that mom and her baby at a time when I was so close to that long-awaited stage of my life – parenting – made me realize just how ready I was.

When our son was then taken from us suddenly at 24 weeks, that newer, ready-to-be-a-mom me was still there. It just didn’t really have anywhere to go. It was put to use in some ways because I made room for a sweet angel to permanently become a part of my life and my story. But it was different than what I had geared myself up for, mentally and emotionally. There was an emptiness so vast yet so tangible.

Tracy’s first rainbow, Ainsley Hope

It turns out it wasn’t my turn yet, and I struggled with that on a deep level.

And then fortunately, as this doesn’t happen for everyone and if it does, it isn’t always right away, it was my turn. Matt and I conceived our rainbow daughter four months after we lost our son. With her pregnancy and safe arrival, I got to put into practice what I had been preparing for. Parenting her has been everything I wished it could be plus so much more. More love, more of everything.

Now pregnant with my third, I recently took my daughter to that same mall and the same store. I didn’t see any new moms, but usually when I do I’m not as wistful as I was in 2014, except in a nostalgic way thinking about when my daughter was that little in 2015. But there is this exciting hope starting again now when I do see new babies. That CAN be me again. And now I truly realize how lucky I am to have my turn at this again.

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