Three Hearts

Dear Ruby,

I woke up yesterday to the pitter patter sound of little feet running into our room. Before I was fully awake I heard: “Mama, Nora’s bed.”

Big brown eyes gazed up at me, hopeful, awaiting my answer. “Morning baby. Of course, here I come.” I rolled out of bed, took her hand and led her back to her room. We both crawled in and snuggled close. I closed my eyes again for a moment and opened them to see your sister staring at me, a wide grin across her face. She put her hand on my cheek adoringly as if to say, “I love you, thanks for being here.”

This, I thought, is what it’s all about.

Nevermind that the rest of the day was going to be filled with endless toddler negotiations, likely pee on the floor, possibly a time out, meal prep, meal refusal, testing out every public restroom we could find, lack of personal space, schlepping from activity to playdate, naptime/bathtime/potty time/teeth brushing/hair brushing/clothes wearing/shoes on battles. Nevermind the constant tornado mess that is my house.

No, this moment, is why I endure all of that with your sister. It’s what I’ve missed out on most with you.

This moment is everything.

Nora is two now and in full blown toddler mode. The phase of princesses and pink twirly dresses and opinions is here in full force. At home, she is dramatic, hilarious and full of personality. In public, she is shy, more cautious, unsure, but sweet. Watching her make sense of this big world and find her courage is such a privilege. Everyday gets easier and harder at the same time.

It’s crazy now to think I ever worried that I would love her the way I love you. There is no comparing, no replacing, no feeling torn; just unconditional, individualized love for you both. My friend Molly described it perfectly to me. She said, with each child, it’s not as if they have to share the love in your heart, more like, you grow another heart entirely. It’s a refreshing concept when day after day I’m constantly emphasizing the importance of sharing with Nora. Sometimes adults don’t want to share either, and in this case, I don’t have to.

I have my Ruby heart. I have my Nora heart and in 8 weeks, I’ll have a third heart to exclusively love your little brother.

I’m lucky to even be writing that. There was a point we didn’t think we’d be here. At 9 weeks, I was told by an ER doctor that despite your brother still having a heartbeat, I was experiencing an “inevitable miscarriage.” He sent us on our way with his condolences to let “nature take it’s course.” For four excruciating days I waited and cried, not knowing what to hope for. Do I wish for the miracle of a heartbeat at my next doctor’s visit, knowing that the outcome still looked grim? Or do I wish for peace and resolve for myself and this baby? I felt tortured by the waiting and uncertainty of it all. The cloud that hung over us in the wake of your passing was once again draping itself over our house like a thick wool blanket in summer.

Sure enough, four days later his heart was still beating and there was a glimmer of hope that all was not lost once again. I’ve spent the last five months on modified bedrest. I haven’t been allowed to lift Nora in five months. I couldn’t put her in her crib, her carseat, or highchair. I couldn’t pick her up when she fell down or put her in a swing at the park or just give her a hug because she’s my daughter and I love her. Your dad rearranged his schedule and came home every day to put Nora down for a nap. He did every bath and every bedtime. He carried every grocery bag and moved any remotely heavy thing. I stopped doing yoga, the only hour each week I ever really took for myself. We missed funerals, weddings and family reunions, fearful that travel would be too much on my body and the baby. We weren’t taking any chances.

They say in the midst of trauma, life can flash before your eyes. During those four days, potential moments lost flashed before mine. I knew when we lost you that we would be missing out on a lifetime of memories and milestones. What I couldn’t have known then that I understand now having Nora is the most treasured moments are the ones I couldn’t ever have seen coming. The way the pure sound of Nora’s belly laugh makes my heart swell, the way she nestles into my body as if she can’t ever get close enough, the way she looks at us like we are her entire world, and the pride I have felt when she conquers any small feat. These treasured moments are so fleeting and unpredictable, but sometimes they are the only things that get me through the hardest of days. These are the moments I treasure most with Nora because of you and these are the moments I feared losing most with your brother.

It’s been a long road and as we know all too well, we’re not in the clear yet, but today, your brother is growing perfectly and healthily and the threat of losing him has diminished considerably. For so long, it felt dangerous to get too close. What if he didn’t make it? Could I survive that heartbreak again? I’m finally at the point where I feel comfortable enough to really digest the fact that soon your Daddy and I will have a son. I’m finally allowing myself to wonder about the color of his eyes, what he will be interested in, and the way he will view the world. I’m finally giving myself permission to envision life with two living children. The chaos, the confusion, the joy. I’m reveling the thought of Nora in the role of big sister, helping us feed him, change him, and teach him the ways of the world.

I’m finally setting aside the fear of losing and instead allowing myself to fully connect with him and relish in the excitement and thrill of being his mom. Three hearts and all.

Congratulations, big sister. Thank you for being there every step of the way.

I love you always,
Mom

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Happy Birthday to Me?

Dear Ruby,

Today is my birthday. I’m 33. Growing up, I loved my birthday. In recent years though, birthdays have felt different.

I don’t relish being the center of attention, but I do love the love I’ve always received on my birthday. Old friends, new friends, acquaintances, and family reach out to offer well wishes and lighthearted banter. How could you not feel special? As a kid, birthdays were all about presents and cake. They later evolved into dinner parties and an excuse to have a few too many cocktails. But birthdays in my 30’s haven’t been about any of that. They’ve been more reflective than celebratory.

I was 12 weeks pregnant with you when I turned 30 and filled with so much naïve joy about all the possibilities a new decade could bring.

By the next year, your loss sucked away any joy I may have had about turning 31. How could I celebrate a birthday when you didn’t get to?

When I turned 32, I was a new mom to six month old Nora – wonderful, beautiful, fussy, nonstop nursing, helmet-wearing Nora. I was settling into my new life as a stay at home mom, feeling lucky and so beyond exhausted. I was consumed with worrying about your sister and too distracted for birthdays.

Birthday BreakfastToday I’m 33. I got to take my time getting ready this morning, lingering in the shower for more than 5 minutes while your Daddy handled morning baby duty. We went out to breakfast with Nora followed by a walk around our beautiful neighborhood. I got to feel the warmth of an 85-degree November day on my skin. I got to hold a teething Nora for an hour and a half as she napped in my arms. I got to indulge in a Baskin Robbins milkshake as I opened cards and read messages from my loved ones. I got to FaceTime with my parents and in laws and nieces and friends. And yet, with all that goodness, today still felt heavy. Initially, I thought it may have something to do with the disappointing outcome of the presidential election, but as the day went on I could sense it had more to do with you.

Yes, I’m sad that you’re not here. Yes, I feel guilty that I continue to have birthdays as you continue to not to have them. But that’s not why today feels heavy.

You have taught me the true significance of a birthday. Because of you, I know the real gift of another year. With that lesson comes the pressure and responsibility to be truly grateful for this day. That knowing deepens my awareness that not everyone gets to be 33.

The gift of a birthday makes me think about fate. I’ve completed another chapter of my story, but the uncomfortable reality is that we don’t know when our story will end.

The heaviness of today isn’t about a fear of death though. It’s about a fear that I haven’t savored enough love along the way; that I haven’t been appreciative enough of my time. My fate so far has brought me ups and downs and my birthday shines a light on the question: have I always found the silver lining? Have I made the most of this gift? Am I too busy letting your loss define me or am I going forward with the lessons I’ve learned and love I’ve received in the days since?

Finding the good has been a crucial piece of my healing process. Since the day we lost you, I needed the pain to be for something. I wanted your legacy to be more than just my broken heart. But it’s not always easy. I’m guilty of complaining about life’s irritating yet insignificant minutia. There are times when I lose site of how lucky I am to be here and have what I have today.

So on my birthday, I went in search of something to help guide me back. I remembered Elizabeth Lesser and her new memoir, Marrow.

It’s a story that chronicles her journey with her sister, Maggie, who was in need of a bone marrow transplant to live. Lesser was the only family member who was a match.

Maggie had been diagnosed with cancer again and was dealing with the physical and mental exhaustion of gearing up for the transplant: a devastating ordeal. Yet, instead of letting this rule her life, Maggie focused on opening up her heart to others, strengthening her relationships with her family, and getting to know her true self. By the end, she described that year as the “best of her life” and Lesser marveled at how her sister “turned her crummy fate into something beautiful.”

Amor fati, she called it.

It is Latin for love of fate and is characterized by an acceptance of the events or situations that occur in one’s life. Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche suggested that if we could learn to love our fate and not just bear it, we would find beauty and meaning everywhere.

Love my fate? When I read this for the first time, I wasn’t sure I could.

Sometimes fate sucks. Sometimes it’s too painful. Sometimes it is tragically unfair. And sometimes it takes away your first-born child and it feels like the only thing to do is bear it.

But fate can’t be summed up in one moment and amor fati isn’t suggesting that I love every individual event of my life. So while losing you is the ugliest fate I could have ever imagined, in order to lose you, I had to first have you. And having you was a dream come true.

Therein lies the beauty and the meaning.

I don’t love what happened to you, but the slow journey to acceptance has allowed me to love the place I find myself in today. SunsetWithout you, I wouldn’t be here. Without the pain and suffering, I wouldn’t have renewed appreciation for life or for birthdays. Without the heartbreak, I wouldn’t know the critical importance of savoring love along the way. I wouldn’t often think to search for silver linings. Without the guilt, I wouldn’t have found forgiveness. Without the emptiness, I wouldn’t have found an abundance of love. Without Ruby, there would be no Nora.

Birthdays in my 30s are definitely different, but I feel heavy with gratitude for what the 33rd chapter uncovered. There is no greater gift than being your and Nora’s mom.

I may not know when my story will end, but I’ll continue to search for the beauty and meaning on every page. And I’ll always look for you baby girl.

I love you,
Mom

It Smells Like Flowers

Dear Ruby,

It’s May again. Mother’s Day was yesterday: a day that makes me feel very torn. I am overjoyed and beyond lucky to have Nora and also plagued with a sense of incompleteness because the one who made me a mother isn’t here. It doesn’t help that this week is also the anniversary of “the worst day.

You’re almost two. Though I know you’ll never grow bigger than that tiny newborn baby I cradled in my arms, I like to envision you as a silly, chubby toddler. You’d run around our house wreaking havoc and spreading joy. You would be starting to really talk – I hear you as a soft-spoken little girl like your mama, with the occasional outburst in a public setting that would get me frazzled and looking for the door. I imagine you with a cheery and confident disposition, you would bravely try new things – something I’d love about you, but also fear as you approached teenage years. You’d challenge me in the best ways and you’d be a Daddy’s girl. Most of all, you’d know love. Without fully understanding the word “love”, you’d know the feeling – I wouldn’t have let a day go by without telling you how much you meant to me.

Last year on May 12th,  your Daddy and I visited you. We brought with us all of the letters, cards, and emails sent to us by our friends, acquaintances, and loved ones in the weeks after we lost you. We read every single one of them over and over as we sat with you. When we were done reading, we listened to all of the voicemail messages we had saved from people expressing their sympathies. It struck me how none of these people had any idea the impact their outreach would have on us at the time or continue to have on us today.

With loss comes inexplicable loneliness. It was important on the anniversary of “the worst day” that we remind ourselves we aren’t alone on this journey. We never were. It was important we focus on the beauty you brought out of people: the kindness, the thoughtfulness, the raw emotion. Of course it’s hard not to dwell on the tragedy of it all, but we had come so far in a year and it made sense to turn our attention towards the people who kept us moving. Through heartbreak, we witnessed true goodness. That’s something only you could have helped us see.

Nora and Ruby

After we left you, we went to the Recorder’s office to pick up Nora’s birth certificate. That too was important to do that day because it symbolized to us that there is life after loss. Nora was the physical manifestation of that mantra. When she was born, the darkness that had been looming dissipated. She was undoubtedly our light, but without you, we couldn’t have ever truly understood the warmth or brightness it brought to our lives. It made sense to honor you by having May 12th forever listed as the “issue date” on her birth certificate.

As the emotions surrounding this second anniversary flood in and we discuss how we’ll honor you this year, I keep thinking about how we just finished celebrating Nora’s first birthday.

It was a bubble party. I had spent weeks planning it – I got clear balloons that looked like bubbles, a bubble machine, giant bubble wands, drew “thought bubbles” on the patio in chalk if the kids were feeling artsy, we served POPcorn and cake POPS and champagne bubbly for the adults. At one point I was second-guessing the time and money we were putting into a gathering she would never remember. After all, she’s only one. She’s not able to blow bubbles or draw with chalk yet anyway. But in truth, the day wasn’t just about celebrating Nora being one. We were celebrating Nora being HERE. We were celebrating how lucky we were to be throwing her a birthday party at all.

Noras first bdayWe missed out on a lifetime of things to celebrate with you, Ruby – birthday parties and Mothers Days included. With you, so many “firsts” would never be realized. With Nora, it’s been a year of over-celebrating firsts: first bath, first smile, first laugh, first roll, first crawl, first foods, first time in a swing, first trip to the zoo, first words, first teeth, first time in a pool, first meal at a restaurant, first signs, first shoes, first fall, first steps. Every “first” is a really big deal to us, so it makes sense that her first birthday was no exception. We were celebrating the miracle that is our beautiful, feisty little heart-healer because we CAN.

Yesterday, we spent Mother’s Day with your Uncle Mike, Aunt A, cousins Zoe & Hannah and your Bubba. As we were leaving, we commented on how beautiful the flowers smelled outside their front door, but your cousin Zoe was quick to say, “Maybe your baby in the sky is making it smell good for all of us.”

Year after year, May will come and I’m not sure I’ll ever shake the initial feeling that something is missing on Mother’s Day, but I know you’ll find ways like that to remind me that you’re not really gone.

This week, on the anniversary of “the worst day,” I’m sure we’ll carry on the special tradition of reading letters and listening to voicemails. As we find new ways to honor you on your day, I guess I hope you see our over-celebrations of Nora’s milestones as our way of honoring you everyday.  They mean more because of you.

Happy early Birthday, baby girl. Thank you for making it smell like flowers.

I miss you and love you everyday,

Mom

Worry is a Waste of Energy

Dear Ruby,

Your Great Grandpa died on Halloween last year. He was 86. Our family lost an amazing man – one of the great loves of my life.

I had last seen him in August, shortly after my previous letter to you, and was able to introduce him to your sister for the first and last time. He lifted her up to stand on his lap, careful not to get her twisted in the oxygen tubes that hung from his nose. She smiled at him. He clapped his hands and made funny faces at her. She smiled again. For a moment, his failing body was not the focus of his attention. Instead, if only for a moment, he got to marvel at his youngest legacy. To say I am grateful for that day would be an understatement.
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When we lost you, we came home from the hospital to a FedEx envelope at the front door. In it was a single piece of extra long yellow legal paper marked with his beautiful cursive handwriting, a little more scribbled than usual. The letter was short, only intended to offer his lifelong mantra – “family is everything, we are here for you, we love you.” It wasn’t unlike him to not call – he never wanted to be a bother or use up our phone “units” – but the overnighted envelope was telling of the urgency with which he needed his message delivered. It was such a Grandpa thing to do, I couldn’t help but smile.

While he rarely called, he often wrote. Writing letters was his thing. (I guess the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.) When I was a freshman and sophomore in college, he wrote me every month. Each letter insisted that its contents were not advice.

“Old men do not give advice to young women,” he wrote. “I am paid handsomely for my advice so I try not to give it for free and never to the young unless they ask (which they almost never do). The above is intended to inspire conduct  – to have you view your new world with confidence; to have you understand that no one ever knows the limits of their own ability and to urge you to be enthusiastic as you begin to learn just how far your “best” can take you.”

Since he passed away, I’ve been re-reading these letters. Not just because I miss him, but also because I’ve needed his non-advice.

Nora is now 10 months old. 10 MONTHS. All I can think about when I type that is a myriad of cliches about the passing of time. IMG_8969She’s laughing and crawling, walking with assistance and pulling herself to stand. She has 4 teeth, loves music, taking baths, and is clapping, waving, and pointing at everything in sight. She loves being outside; taking daily walks in the Bjorn, watching for cars, birds, dogs and kids on the street behind our back patio, and swinging on the swings at a nearby park. She is so curious – she examines (and eats) her toys with intensity, she likes to read books, and go to her sign language class. She has an old soul as she sits like a lady with her legs crossed, listening and dancing to the Beatles, and watching Mary Poppins. She is fun and beautiful and smart and strong and I’ve never loved anything more.

Last fall, I left my job to stay home with her full-time. It wasn’t an easy decision, but it was the obvious one for me. That doesn’t mean it isn’t hard. It’s harder than anything I’ve ever done. And it’s scary. I mean, REALLY scary.

Lately, I’ve been doing a lot worrying.

I worry that something awful will happen to Nora, something that I won’t be able to protect her from – the way I wasn’t able to protect you. I worry that people think I’m a neurotic, helicopter parent and don’t understand why I make certain decisions. I worry that I’ve forgotten my independence because of the anxiety I feel to leave Nora’s side. I worry in social situations with new people because they don’t know our history and I worry in social situations with old friends that I am perceived differently. I worry that I’m not being a good mom to you, that I’m not paying you enough attention and letting you be forgotten.

Most of all, I worry that I’m doing too much worrying.

When that sort of anxiety builds, I usually turn here. I have thought about writing you every – single – day since my last letter, no exaggeration. Truthfully, I don’t have a solid excuse for staying away so long. Lack of time? Maybe. But it surely hasn’t been for a lack of content.

I worry too about how Nora will feel when she reads this someday. I worry that she will feel like a replacement, though we all know better. You are our firstborn and she is the physical manifestation of our hope. Our living miracle. Still, my worry makes me overly cautious about my words. Mix that with time restraints and sleep deprivation and you’ve got the recipe for a 7-month letter hiatus.

Without my own ability to write, I sought solace in my Grandpa’s words. After perusing through dozens of “advice-free” pages, I eventually came to the last letter he ever wrote me in February 2015. In the very last sentence, on the very last page, before telling me he loved me, he wrote:

“Be positive, because worry is a waste of energy.”

His final words to me felt as if he was writing the final chapter of his life. Despite struggling with his own physical limitations, he remained level headed and chose to leave me with a message that inspired the same conduct, instilled the same confidence and issued the same challenge to be my best that he always had.

My worries, I realize, are deep rooted – stemming from the lingering guilt I carry with me everyday for failing to protect you. These worries are not to be swept under the rug and forgotten for another day. Ignoring anxiety doesn’t make it go away, but my Grandpa was right…letting it consume me is a waste of the very little energy I have.

I must accept that as she gets older, I will not be able to save Nora from every illness, bump and bruise. I will not be able to keep her heart from being broken or her feelings from being hurt. And if I step back and think about it, I wouldn’t want to. That would be keeping her from really living and learning.

I must come to terms with the fact that my job is to guide her: to clean her inevitable wounds, nurse her back to health, to embrace her and listen when she hurts, and to offer advice from my own experiences. I must continue to remind myself that there is only so much I can control and that in order to be the best mom I can be, I need to not be so hard on myself and just keep following my gut. Not everyone will agree with some of the decisions I make and that’s ok. I may be perceived as over-protective and that’s ok too. Not everyone has walked the journey we’ve walked (thank god) so I cannot expect them to understand the complexities of parenting after loss. All of this doesn’t mean I won’t try to protect her, of course, as I so badly wanted to protect you. But, I can’t let what happened to you (to us) manifest itself into day-to-day debilitating worry. I cannot let it negatively effect the mother I am to Nora.

In 2002, your Great Grandpa sent me a letter about overcoming adversity.

IMG_7413“Any experience in life, winning or losing, is only significant if we learn from it. Usually, we learn more from losing than from winning and the reason for that is that adversity introduces us to ourselves. It makes us dig deep into our inner resources to overcome disappointment and resolve to press ahead with determination. A person who is defeated is not a “loser” unless that defeat saps the resolve out of her.”

Moving forward, my resolve must overcome my grief and my worry.

As I write you now, it strikes me how the pain of Grandpa’s loss and yours, while wildly different, have a common denominator. At the very end of his life, mentally, he was himself – brilliant, sharp, tough, thoughtful, stubborn, proud – but his body was a shell of the invincible man I always saw him be. It failed him, which makes his loss feel premature. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye. When I saw him last August, I was so sure I would be spending Christmas with him. Had I known it was the last time, I would have lingered a little longer in his arms before walking out the door.

What comforts me now is the thought of you two being together, taking care of each other, wherever you are. And while we must press ahead without you both here, I have Grandpa’s words to guide me and your spirit with me always.

I love you, Rubes.
Mom

The Fourth Trimester: You Are Held In Love

Dear Ruby,

If you would have told me a year ago that I would go a day without crying, I wouldn’t have believed you.

If you would have told me a year ago that I would laugh without guilt, I wouldn’t have believed you.

If you would have told me a year ago that one day, my heart would once again be filled with joy, I wouldn’t have believed you.

The funny thing is, you did tell me all of these things. You told me “everything will be ok,” but I just wasn’t ready to listen.

I started and re-started this letter many times, Ruby. Sometimes when there is so much to say, it’s easy to be at a loss for words. But while I struggle to weave the perfect sentences together, in truth, I can sum up the last three months like this…

IMG_4621She is here and now, I believe you.

I originally began writing to you with details about my final two months of pregnancy – the placenta previa, the threats of preterm labor, the bedrest, the anxiety. I talked about labor and delivery with your sister – my fever, two days in NICU, etc. I wrote about the struggles of those early weeks – the sleep deprivation, the worry, the crying. And after writing it all out, I deleted every single word.

I decided those were not the stories I wanted to tell. That part of the journey, while significant, only mimicked the ebbs and flows of life: there were ups and downs, it wasn’t perfect and it wasn’t easy. But we got through it and now…

Nora is here and I believe you.

Your curious, feisty, beautiful little sister Nora Rose Landau was born at 6:43pm on April 17th. Weighing in at 6 lbs, 10 ounces, I remember so vividly holding her warm pink body in my arms, watching her chest rise and fall as the rhythm of her heart beat against mine. I stared at her in awe, disbelieving that something so perfect could be ours, and she stared back at me, assuring me that everything will be ok.

Leading up to Nora’s birthday, I had done a lot of worrying about how I would feel when I met her. Would I feel connected to her the way I did to you? Would I love her, but long for you? I wondered how your role in our family would change? Or would it?

As soon as I saw her face, I felt nothing but love and gratitude and overwhelming relief. I allowed myself to accept that love is not finite, nor is it linear. There are no conditions, no rules that state loving her negates my love for you. I can (and do) miss you every single day even though I have her, but now that she’s here, I can’t imagine life without her.
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And today, because she is here, your presence is felt more than ever.

For the 7 weeks I was on bedrest, I’d work from home on our couch. Every single morning, a hummingbird would appear in our backyard. While many things make us think of you, Ruby, hummingbirds are at the top of the list. This tiny, spirited creature came at the same time to the same window every day – a morning “wink” from my baby girl. And every day I would whisper, “Good morning, Ruby.

The morning of April 17th, I wasn’t feeling well. I had read that flu-like symptoms could be an early sign of labor and I was scared. Like clockwork, the hummingbird appeared and I whispered my usual morning greeting to you. Usually it would visit for only a moment or two and fly away just as quickly, but on this day, it hovered in our backyard until your Daddy and I left for the hospital. In the midst of my fear, I felt your calming presence.

Two days later, we brought your sister home. In the weeks that followed, I looked and waited for the hummingbird, for my morning wink, and it never came. I hadn’t seen it since the day your sister was born and somehow I knew, it meant you were at peace.

For over a year, you watched over us closely. Appearing as little signs and eerie coincidences where ever we went. You guided us through grief by offering us hope through your presence and constant reminders that you will not be forgotten even in your absence. And on the morning before your sister was born, you were there to offer that hope and sense of calm once more.

IMG_5796 (1)While I miss my morning wink from that sweet hummingbird, I still feel you close, mostly during moments with Nora. When she was first born, she would stare intently past me or even thru me, as if she could see something that I couldn’t. At almost three months old, she is smiling and cooing up a storm, but there are still moments where she laughs and has conversations with someone who isn’t there and I’d like to think it’s you. Just two sisters, likely making fun of their mom, as she clumsily figures out this parenting thing as she goes.

I feel like I’ve lived a lifetime in the past 14 months, experiencing the absolute best and worst life has to offer. While I was pregnant, whenever I got stressed or frustrated your Daddy would lean in, one hand on my belly and whisper to you and your sister, “You are held in love.”

These days we move forward joyfully, but taking one day at a time – holding you both in love – with Nora in our arms and you, my baby, forever in our hearts.

We love you, big sister,

Mom, Dad & Nora

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A Letter From Dad: Sports Are a Microcosm of Life

Dear Ruby,

I miss you. I’m sitting in your room, kissing the picture I have of you and wishing I could have held you for just one more second. I wish I could have heard your voice and seen your eyes full of wonder. The grief and devastation I carry each day is made lighter only by my love for you. When I think of you I hurt, but I smile – a sign of growth.

IMG_4543A few weeks ago, during a stressful day, I took a short walk around the block to clear my head. Turning the corner, I looked down and stopped in awe to see your name etched into a leaf. You are always with me, especially when I need you most. 

When your mom told me she was pregnant with your sister, I didn’t know how to react. I was overwhelmed. I was shocked, excited, scared, grateful and even felt self-preserving denial. After 38 weeks of anxious anticipation we had lost you and I felt anguish I didn’t know humans could feel. We were steps away from the finish line only to be told we needed to start over. How could we gather the courage and focus needed to start another 40 week journey? We had been beaten down, dejected and exhausted but so lucky to be starting again.

Before falling asleep that night, I found myself thinking of the 2004 American League Championship Series. [Didn’t see that one coming, did you?] I’ve always been a passionate sports fan and a very mediocre athlete. Hopefully you would’ve gotten your mom’s athletic genes. The Boston Red Sox were down 3 games to 0 and losing game 4 in the 9th inning. They were 3 outs away from elimination and had so far to go. I identified with them. They were on the ropes with an insurmountable task ahead, but they had hope. They were still alive and still fighting.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

Instead of focusing on winning the series, they focused on winning each at-bat, each inning. With this mindset, they made history. Not only did they come back to win game 4, but miraculously game 5, game 6 and game 7 to earn their spot at the World Series.

We have lost so much, but we have hope too. In August, 40 weeks seemed like an insurmountable task, yet I kept thinking of that team. Instead of focusing on April 29th, I would focus on each appointment, each ultrasound, each heartbeat and each kick. If I could stay in the zone, I would stay calm and strong for mom and your sister.

With 5 weeks to go, staying present is crucial as fears of tomorrow are sweeping in like Mariano Rivera’s cut-fastball. I must stay the course and fight through the disruptive “what if’s”. Each kick is an opportunity to cherish what I have now.

Luckily, when I lose my way, you are always there coaching me along. You give great pep talks, Ruby. Thank you for insisting on helping and making your presence undeniable. One step at a time is one step closer to the finish line. At 35 weeks, it’s game 7 and there’s no one I’d rather have on my team.

I love you, Ruby

Dad

“Everything Changes Once You Have Kids”

Dear Ruby,

Just a quick note to tell you that I wrote another article for Pregnancy After Loss Magazine. It’s called “Everything Changes Once You Have Kids”. In it, I argue that you don’t need to “have kids” to be changed by them.  Your Daddy and I are living proof of that.

Here’s the link in case you wanted to read it:  http://www.pregnancyafterlosssupport.com/everything-changes-kids/

I’ll write more later.

I love you,

Mom