My dear sweet, Anika, today would have been your birthday. 11 years.
11 years of unconditional love, of kissed “owies”, of discovering books and hobbies and mysteries together. 11 years of learning who you are and figuring out who you want to become. 11 years of play, of laughter, of joy, of sheer silliness. 11 years of sharing my heart with another person. You had my heart while you were still inside my womb. I would have given everything up for you. All of my lofty dreams and aspirations didn’t matter because I was going to be your mom.
I was only 17. I was scared. I was terrified. I was alone. Your daddy left. It wasn’t that he didn’t want you. I think he was scared, too. It was just you and me. I just knew that I would mess it up, that I would mess you up. But, you were a risk I wanted to take. I was ready to jump every hurdle. I was ready to roll with every punch life threw at me. I was ready for you. I was ready for the sleepless nights, the dirty nappies, the runny noses, the tearful pediatrician visits. I was ready for your first words, your first steps, your first broken heart. I imagined it all. I thought I was safe. I thought we were safe. I began letting myself have an inkling of hope
I thought that we would be celebrating your 11th birthday this year. We’d have cake, horrible themed birthday decorations, quintessential kid food (mac and cheese, pizza, chicken nuggets, french fries, etc.; whatever you came to love). I would have made sure that you got what you asked for and if I couldn’t I’d make sure you knew that love was the greater gift, that you were my gift.
But life doesn’t always go as planned. At least life spared me having to teach you this lesson, because it is a hard one, my love. It’s beastly. Sometimes life teases you, gives you a morsel of something beautiful and then it takes it away. That’s what life did with you. I was 17, your dad was 33. It was all completely legal, but he would have gotten into a ton of trouble had you been born. Maybe he wanted me to abort you. I never would have. I loved you from the moment I felt you stir inside of me. I mulled over the decision for weeks. Did I keep you? Did I put you up for adoption? I was so young. I had so many dreams. I wanted to have a doctorate some day. And, I’ll tell you, I’m well on my way to those dreams but I think, for a chance to know you, to see your smiling face, to gaze into your beautiful eyes… I’d trade those successes. That isn’t what life had planned for me though.
I made it past the 12 week mark, that’s when everyone says “you’re safe.” That’s when people start celebrating pregnancy. I really, truly celebrated. My belly started to grow, just a little bit. But, it was definitely you. Not a food baby this time, a real baby. It was magical.
I let myself feel connected to you. I let myself settle in to my pregnancy, even though it made me sick. I was so, so sick. But, I would have gone back and done it all again, if it meant that today we were celebrating your 11th birthday. Except, you know, life doesn’t work that way.
I’m glad you’ve been spared the pains of life, my little one. I don’t know if I could have bared to watch your precious heart break. I’d rather it be mine that breaks than yours. I can handle it. And, that’s the way it had to be. At 16 weeks I lost you. The doctor called it a “spontaneous abortion.” I hated that he used that cold, medical terminology. I wanted you. I wanted nothing to do with the stigma attached to abortion. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely would have taught you about feminism and a woman’s right to choose. You never would have believed that abortion was bad or wrong. Truth be told, I never believed that either, but it wasn’t what I chose for you and me. I chose to have you, to have you alive, to keep you, to grow with you. But sometimes in life, our choices don’t count, because there is someone or something with more power, pulling the strings. It just wasn’t our time to meet.
I stayed in bed for a full week after I lost you. My belly felt empty. My soul felt empty. I cried and cried. I could have drowned from all the tears. I wasn’t sure I even wanted to live anymore. I had imagined this whole life of being your mom and it was taken away from me. I’d have to imagine a new life but I didn’t want to. I wanted you! I wanted that life. I was shattered, beyond shattered. I never knew it was possible to feel so hollow. But somehow I survived. I never forgot you though, love. I never stopped loving you. I never will. For those 16 weeks you were my sunshine, you were my hope, you were my reason. Wherever your tiny spirit is today know that I love you. I love you with all my heart.
I am thankful for the weeks you gave me. I am thankful that you got to walk across the stage with me at my high school graduation.
I’m thankful that you were there with me when I got excepted to college. I’m thankful that you were with me while I prepared to start that new life. I wish you could have been there for the rest.
I wish we could have had movie nights and game nights and family dinners. I wish we could have gone on hiking trips together. I wish I could share this love of yoga with you. I wish you could show me new music and nerd out to me about whatever new discoveries you were making in school and in life. I wish that I could nerd out to you. I wish we could go to comic cons. I wish I could watch you play sports, or go to music recitals, or marching band competitions, or debates, or spelling bees, or whatever it is that you would have loved. I would have been there for any and all of it. So many wishes, as empty as my womb the day I lost you.
But, I’m not completely empty. I have your memory. I have the felt experience of you inside my stomach. I have the love that will always linger in my heart. You weren’t just once a part of me, you will always be a part of me. You were wanted. You are loved.