Dear Baby Bean,
I started this letter the night before our last doctor’s appointment. I was so excited to see you on the ultrasound machine and see how much you had grown.
We both know that is not what happened, but I don’t want to dwell on the particulars of that right now. Much of what I had planned for the original letter is still pertinent and I still want to say it to you. I hope that you will know it somehow.
You were my precious, longed-for third child. I wanted you before your big sister Lucy died, but I had a different plan that probably would not have resulted in you. I planned to space you out more from your older sister, because having Max and Lucy so close together was wonderful, but it was very hard. I wanted to do something different next time. I also wanted to wait until your sister had improved or had successfully recovered from heart transplant and stabilized.
Your existence was by no means certain. There were times when I really thought it was not fair of me to want a third child or I could not handle it. I simply wanted another and your father and I did discussed if we should have another child in case we lost Lucy at some point. We did not want Max to lose his only sibling and have no chance for another one.
But we did not want you to simply feel like a “spare” child or for Lucy to feel like you were her replacement. It ended up we did not need to worry about those things. Not exactly.
Your sister died unexpectedly and I suddenly found myself desperate for another baby immediately. So, we created you. It was much shorter notice than the other two, but you were still planned and very, very wanted.
I worried about what it would be like for you, knowing you probably would not have existed if your sister hadn’t died. I was afraid you would feel like a consolation prize. We couldn’t have Lucy, so we settled for you. It was something akin to how I used to feel when I imagined who would be Lucy’s heart donor before she died. It saddened me to think that someone else’s child was walking around with Lucy’s future heart and they and their parents had no idea what was coming.
Nothing could be further from the truth. You gave me hope after Lucy died. You made life bearable. You made it easier for me to live in my daily world surrounded by small children and babies. You gave me something to look forward to. Nothing would have made me happier than to have Lucy, Max, AND you—the actual you, not the vague third baby born post-transplant that I had planned. I already loved you so much. I daydreamed about holding you the first time so many times. I wasn’t going to let anyone else near you.
I remember telling your father in the first weeks after we found out about you that I felt so torn. I almost couldn’t want to be back in the past with Lucy, because you weren’t in the past. If Lucy had lived, you wouldn’t have existed. No matter how much I wanted Lucy to have lived, I wanted you, too. Just for you.
I like to imagine that Lucy sent you to us, that you two spent time together in heaven before you came to us. I imagined her saying, “I put them through an unbelievable amount of shit and they were crazy about me! You’ll do fine.” (I don’t know why I imagine my toddler daughter cursing.) I even had a crazy daydream that one day you would point to a picture of Lucy and tell me you remembered her from heaven.
I am not sure if I really believe in heaven, but I hope you two are back together. Lucy deserves a sibling to be with. Max does, too, but hopefully he will have another chance.
I feel so alone without you. I miss you so very much. Your big brother and father were so excited to meet you, too, but they seem to be doing ok, although I know they are sad that you won’t be born.
I want to make sure I set down all the details I can remember here, so I will never forget. You were due Feb. 28. I thought you would be born March 10, because your brother and sister both came 10 days after their due dates. Your birthstone would have been an aquamarine. You would have been a Pisces. It would have been the year of the Horse. My favorite girl name was Ruby Louise. My favorite boy name was Dashiell Thomas. I thought you were a boy. I got morning sickness from dairy products and water and craved salty snacks. My skin and hair were awful. The gender tests were evenly split between boy and girl. Intelligender said girl.
I am going to choose Jizo statues in honor of both you and Lucy. I will always cherish my one bump shot with you and the few ultrasound photos I have. I also still have three positive pregnancy tests. I need to choose which one to keep and I will treasure it alongside Lucy’s. I wish I still had Max’s.
Thank you for being with me this summer. Thank you for giving me hope after Lucy’s death. Thank you for giving me something to look forward to, for making it possible for me to briefly be a mother of three. You even made me feel like I briefly had two children again. I will always miss you and love you. I hope I meet you again someday. I cherished every moment you were with me, even after I knew you were no longer living.