I wrote letters to my son throughout my pregnancy. When he died, I continued to write. It had become a habit. I wonder sometimes if I write for him or for me. I think the answer is — yes.
Letters to Adrian are lightly edited for clarity and mechanics, and to protect privacy. They are otherwise presented exactly as written.
Trigger warning; please note: Some of the letters presented here discuss thoughts of suicide. I am not now actively suicidal, but there was a point in my grief where it was a very real possibility. I include these entries because they are an important part of the story. If you are feeling suicidal, I encourage you to please seek help. I did. I still do.
I saw your heart beat today. The doctor called it a “fluttering.” It was tiny; the books say you’re only about the size of a pea, but you have already changed my world.
You are about the size of a blueberry now, and your arms and legs have started to grow. I started looking at nursery furniture. I’m leaning towards Dumbo.
You’re a little over 10 weeks today….You have fingers and toes, and you’re growing fingernails right now. If I had an ultrasound today, you would look like a tiny little human being.
The books say you like to move around a lot right now, and you did not disappoint. At one point, I even saw the bottoms of your tiny, tiny feet. I think you’re perfect 🙂
I’ve been feeling a lot better, so I flew to Washington D.C. this weekend to visit some old friends. We’ve all known each other for many years, and I’m glad I could spend time with them before they left the city.
I thought I felt some flutters a while back, but nothing I could say for definite. Then, today, I was sitting in the doctor’s office, and you–wooshed.
I’ve been a little more tired lately, but I’ve been keeping myself busy. I started childbirth classes about a month ago, and I’m learning a lot about you and how I hope our child birth will go.
Tomorrow, I’m taking a Greyhound bus to visit some good friends in Louisiana. This will be my last road trip before I finally get to meet you!
This week was hard, but it put some things into perspective for me. I’m going to meet you soon, and our lives are about to change in the most wonderful way.
I finished your nursery today. I have your crib and dresser, and a changing pad on top of your dresser. I also put away the last of your shower gifts. Everything is waiting for you to come home.
You may wonder what I looked like while I was pregnant. I had some photos taken a few weeks ago, along with Saki and Amy Anne. I think they turned out pretty well.
I had my 40 week appointment (a day early) this morning. The midwife said you are doing well, and should be ready to join us any day now. I’m ready whenever you are.
I don’t understand it, little one. I don’t understand how you could be here, and then not. I don’t understand how you’re still in my belly, but you’re already gone. I don’t understand how the world makes sense anymore. I never got to hold you, and I miss you so much. My heart is broken.
I watched your tiny mouth for so long in the hospital. I can almost picture you suckling at my breast. This was supposed to be for you. Everything was supposed to be for you.
Even now, everything was worth it. I will never regret anything I did to prepare for you.
I think about running away. I think about starting a new life, where people don’t know, where they don’t stare at me with pity in their eyes.
I think your Aunt Alexis worries about me. I worry about me. I am going through the motions, but inside I feel helpless. It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
I wake up in the morning, and you aren’t there. This is the worst part of my day.
I had a fantasy of how it would go. I would wake up early in the morning, and it would start. I would walk to Alexis’s room and tell her, calmly, that it was time.
I was afraid to kiss you, when they first brought you to me. I was afraid they would think I was strange.
I say your name. That part is easy. I will forever love the sound of your name, the feel of it in my voice. What I can’t say is what happened to you.
It’s not normal yet. I told March it all feels like a dream, like something that just didn’t happen. I struggle to remember I was pregnant at all.
I’m home now, and it’s like you’re gone all over again. The tears rise up, they cover me. I am made of water. It rains.
I don’t sleep normally. I’m tired all day, but I have trouble at night. I often forget what day it is.
I don’t know what I could have done differently. You were the very best part of me.
I look out the door of our cabin and think how easy it would be. I could just jump. It scares me.
My worst regret is drinking half a can of Red Bull on those mornings I struggled to get out of bed. In that reality, I know it’s not my fault. I loved you more than life itself.
Life is coming back to me. I hate it, it makes me feel disloyal to you. I hate feeling my mind engage, hate losing my focus on everything about you.
I packed some of your things yesterday. It’s a little like saying goodbye. I will never be ready to lose you entirely.
I don’t know how long you were struggling. I felt your movements, I thought you were excited.
There’s a place apart from suicide. A place where you don’t think to cause yourself harm, but neither do you have reason to live.
I was supposed to start work next week. I was supposed to be home, snuggling a tiny child. I was supposed to have a life different than the one I float through now.
I felt the water rushing out of me. I noticed with such a detached feeling that it was almost like peeing, except I had no control. Then I looked down, and saw that it was all blood. My first thought was this was proof something was wrong with me. My second was that maybe I was dying.
I’m not living, without you. My body eats and drinks and works and sleeps. I visit with it sometimes. Sometimes I visit with you. Sometimes I feel you in my arms. Sometimes I see you in visions, memories.
The doctor had to leave. She said she would be back, but after she left, I decided I couldn’t wait. I asked if the midwife was available. I don’t think she was supposed to be on until noon, but they called her, and she came.
One year ago yesterday I drove to the doctor’s office — nervous, excited, and full of such hope. I never expected you to happen so quickly, but I was ready. You were my dream.
Someone asked if I was “better” today. I don’t think she meant it to be hurtful, but I can’t fathom what she means.
We talk a lot about blame. Everyone says it’s not my fault. Does it really matter? Are you any less gone?
I live with this anger, this endless rage. I lay still in yoga, but all the time I want to scream.
So many people talk about God’s plan, say that they are comforted because their child is with God, because their loss must be part of some greater meaning. It just feels like a cop out to me.
I am thankful for new connections. I am thankful to remember that all you ever knew was love.
My head knows I did everything I thought was right, but my heart will always wonder. Why didn’t I want to know more?
I’ve never been very worried about the things most people consider dangerous. I’ve deployed to war zones; I’ve gone scuba diving; I’ve shot handguns, rifles, bow and arrow.
I don’t know why I’m surprised when I cry out of nowhere. Maybe I feel disloyal for having good days?
This is such a bittersweet day. I loved this house. I was so excited to share it, to share my whole world with you. You would have been four months old tomorrow. You died four months ago today.
Sometimes I wonder if I’m angry and defensive because it’s the only way to protect your memory.
One of the first photos I took with elephant. You should have been here.
They left me alone. After you were born and we had taken pictures and they checked all my vitals and everything was as okay as it was ever going to be, they all packed their things and went away.
I remember the day I found out you were real. The breathless wait, that faint second line, the way my heart jumped into my throat and I gave a little scream. I was scared to believe you were true.
The Miranda from Before knew excitement. The Miranda from Before had plans. She mapped out her life and she felt you move and she lived in a world where passion equals reality. She loved you with the careless assumption that you would always be alive to treasure.
I expect people to understand me, but–I am the one who is different. I am the stranger; I am the outsider; I am the one who doesn’t fit in. FacebookTweetPinPrintEmail
In one of my earliest conversations, my friend said something along the lines of, “Of course–there’s something so special about children; if you want to be a mother, then go forth and do.”
I’m awake now, and I hate it. But what I hate almost as much are the expectations on me. I eat and I sleep and I put on my uniform and people assume that because I do these things, I must be okay.
Over the past few years, I’ve come to view birthdays as a means of marking time, another year forward in the future I had planned. I had so many plans!
Last Thanksgiving my morning sickness was so bad I couldn’t stand the smell of any food, let alone meat. I don’t know if you would have been a vegan, but you sure started out that way. Happy tofurkey day.
I feel like I don’t even know what I’ve lost of you. FacebookTweetPinPrintEmail
Romeo gave you lots of belly kisses when I was pregnant. He will always be one of my favorite people. You should be here too.
This isn’t the trip I planned for us. I will always wish you were here. Sweet dreams, little one. I love you.
I’ve felt like such a horrible person because I’ve been so numb this week. Now I sit in my car and my eyes fill with tears, and I realize that what I dread more than being asked if I have children is not being asked anything at all.
I loved you from the moment I saw that second blue line. I loved you from my first dream of you. I loved you for so much longer than you were actually alive–Before, and After, and all the spaces in between.
I think of all the signs the providers brushed off. I think of the other signs I just didn’t see. My heart hurts. I wish I could go back in time. I wish I had saved you.
I read these stupid memes and I want to say, “well of course my attitude must be influencing me,” but I know that can’t be true. Because there was never a moment when I didn’t feel full of love and want and excitement for you.
You made me a mother, and my arms ache without you. So I carry your elephant, and I wish you were here, and I think about the crazy duality of this year.
These tools were available to me and I chose not to use them. I didn’t choose for you to die, but my choices did not save you. I wish that I had saved you.
When I think of thankfulness, all I can think of is the time I had with you. The whispered conversations. The whoosh of your first movements. The tactile knowledge of your hands, and your face, and your very active feet.
A father and son play on the beach. One of them squeals, avoiding the waves. It’s a bit warmer today. I wonder if the water is cold.
I’ve told people that I feel more awake now, more present. I think I’m only now beginning to understand what this fork in our road means.
I think it would be so much easier if I believed as other people believed. It would be so much easier if I could close my eyes and know with certainty that you were listening when I said your name. It would be so nice. But it’s not real.
I remember that last visit to the midwife. You were 39 weeks and 6 days. I sat on the table, holding my enormous belly, and I told her I was ready, that everything was ready for you to come, but I was content to wait.
I live in constant fear of the person I would become if I ever chose to live without you. I’m not capable of living without you.
I don’t think I ever told you, but I used to dream about you, before you were real. It seems silly, but you always “felt” like a boy.
I think about “moving forward”. I think about “trying again”. These words are hurtful. These words feel like I’m trying to replace you. It isn’t possible to replace you.
It feels funny to say that: I miss you. It feels like there should be another word, something that acknowledges that part of what is missing is this unrealized idea.
I think a lot about the day you were due. I think about how different our lives would be.
I ordered flower seeds for the backyard. I ordered bluebonnets, though I heard they may not grow here. You should be sitting in bluebonnets, learning to grasp things; starting to smile and hearing me read. I should be reading to you.
This is the day I found out I was having you. This is the day you became real. Everything feels like another lifetime. I love you.
I was just reminded that you had dreams. I wonder what they were like?
Without you, I live in a world of unwanted freedom. I live in a world where I can pack up and head to Tahoe on a random weekend, but none of this is enough. So much of this feels empty.
I miss you so much. It was nice to see your face in my dreams.
I have often examined the symptoms of my grief. It still feels so weird to me. The simplest things now make me cry. I examine those tears under a microscope. I examine everything, all while I’m feeling it.
I keep waiting for sunshine, for something to tell me life isn’t always blue. I live in shades of blue.
It’s strange how we perceive change. Today, I can walk 20,000 steps with something like ease. It’s hard to remember the challenge. The change kind of snuck up on me.
I hear the children playing in the daycare down the hill, and I think of you. Rosemary* is talking. She said the word, “Mama,” and I think of you.
I never thought I was the person who counted, the one making marks on tally forms. I never imagined red x’s on a calendar, and a day that both destroyed and created me.
It hits me sometimes — this time last year I was still pregnant. What happened to my life? What happened to yours?
I started school this month. It’s been intense, learning to live again inside rules and structure. I can’t get up and walk away when I need to be alone with you.
I see her when I close my eyes. I see her as a child and all grown up, and I think about the ways that I didn’t see you. When I dreamt of you, you were always an adult looking out of a child’s body.
Miscarriage is only what happened to my body. Stillbirth is only what happened to yours. Your death is what happened to my soul. Your death changed my whole world.
I have days when I think I’m okay. I have days when I think, “I’m healed now. I can be a normal person again.” This started out as one of those days.
I smile with genuine feeling. I finally feel excitement. I love her and I miss you. I realize I have given up control.
This time last year, I was still pregnant. This time last year, I was probably settling down on the couch with Netflix and thinking about you. I was always thinking about you.
“i carry your heart with me. (i carry it in my heart)” – e. e. cummings
For a long time, my pain was the only thing I could feel. I cling to it, now. It comforts me. It’s the one thing I know will never leave.
I finally looked up the plot line of “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Ironic that the story seems applicable to me. Ironic that I judged something that now feels maybe powerful.
Yoga pants in Target, and the two week wait. And I think about you. At this moment, you could already be a big brother.
I promised you I’d be okay. I’m really really trying. But sometimes I realize I didn’t know what I was promising.
I got called a mom today. I was with someone else’s kids, and the waiter asked me if the youngest could have another soda. “Is it okay with mom?” Pieces of normality…
The first night I left the house after Alexis* left, I was in a daze. I had walked these streets playing Pokemon Go not even that long ago. It felt like another lifetime.
When I first started writing about you, I felt guilty to feel excitement. I felt guilty in that brief joy and how easily the words flew. The one bright spot in my life was in finding the right words to talk about how much I missed you.
I turned down some “really good acid” today. I never thought I’d find myself in that situation. I never thought I’d find myself in a lot of places.
I had trouble getting out of bed this morning. I have trouble finding motivation, sometimes. These days feel uncomfortably familiar. I wonder if I’m regressing.
I miss those moments now, that time when I felt complete in my grief. Because now I yearn for community, and it’s missing.
I think one of the strangest things I’ve learned about grief is that it’s expressed in the most unusual ways. Beyond the big moments, easily understood, I’m finding it lives in the details.
12 months ago, I was in labor. 12 months ago, you were preparing to be born. And this moment will always live in my memories.
Miranda and Elephant on the California coast (photo used with permission) When I pictured this moment during our pregnancy, I had all the typical first birthday dreams. I thought about outfits, and cute party hats, and an elephant cake you would smash more than eat. I thought about family, and packed photo books, and maybe a few …
I think somehow I felt like I would be healed now, like your birthday would be a healing event. Like I felt about that cruise. I will never be healed.
In those early days, most things were harder. But grief was easier. It was always present.
I remember the feel of those early days. I remember when tears were always on call. I remember when I didn’t have to close my eyes to think of you.
I haven’t written, lately, because words have felt hard. I haven’t written, lately, because my attention hasn’t been focused on you. And I want to apologize, because I remember those early days when I thought I would never stop thinking about you.
If you were here, would I still feel lonely? I can’t think that my happiness rested on you.
I’m feeling a bit “better” now. I don’t really know what that word means. But I woke up this morning, and it didn’t hurt to get out of bed.
For the past year, I’ve told myself everyday I would do anything to have you here with me. If I could travel back in time I would do anything to convince myself we should have been induced…For the past year, I’ve told myself this, but now I realize that’s changed.
And for the longest time, I couldn’t cry. And for the longest time I couldn’t cry about you. And then today, and it feels almost out of nowhere. Like it’s a full body memory, and I realized I still miss you. I’ve never stopped missing you.
I find myself living in the world again, at least in pieces. And I railed and I fought and I thought maybe it would be that way forever. And I’m realizing, even when I maybe don’t want to, that somehow I am living.
They I gave her to me and she was screaming and all I could think was yes, mama loves you so much. You are a new piece of my everything. And suddenly I’m just bigger and you are still gone and I’m straddling the world in two.
The lead up is different this time. It’s quieter. I’m not sobbing. I sit here with your sister and most parts of the day I feel fine. It’s only in those random moments, those echoes of memory — and I still wish I could feel more of you.
This past year has been different. You’d think the biggest part would be your sister, and of course she’s part of it. There’s also me. I’ve been developing. I’ve been learning and hiding in equal measures.
If they asked me to describe you, I would start with your eyes. I never got to see your eyes, just your long eyelashes. If they asked about your first word, I would have to shrug. Though statistically, (ironically,) it’s almost always “dada”. If they asked about my hopes for you, I would have to say my biggest hope was that you would have felt loved. It was always important to me that you feel loved.
I’m glad I got out of bed today. I like watching the water. There’s a guy beyond the ice plant, painting on the rocks. I remember sitting here last year, feeling overwhelmed and sad. It was hard.
I’ll never understand the Quora voodoo, but I finally have an answer that is gathering attention. And of course it’s about you. I like being able to talk about you.
I was driving down the road on the way to therapy, and this memory came out of nowhere and I laughed out loud. I’m laughing again. There is joy, and there is pain, and there is you. There is always you.
Your sister was offered a daycare slot and it brings up memories. People around me are having boys and it brings up memories.
Our old house is for sale. In the photos, it looks cluttered. They have a boy and a girl, fully lived-in rooms. We wouldn’t have had that, not there. It still feels weird to look at.
I caught a glimpse of my tattoo in the mirror the other day. The days move so quickly lately, sometimes I forget it’s there. Sometimes I miss the burning underneath my skin, how it felt when everything was new.
Most days I feel “fine.” I live life and I care for your sister, and when the subject comes up, I talk about you. I love talking about you. And sometimes I feel bad, even though I know better, that I hardly cry anymore.
I woke up this morning to your sister saying, “Mama”. It’s how she usually gets my attention these days. I love the sound of it, and the way she is so demanding. When she wakes up, it’s like a hurricane has descended on the world. And I wonder — would that have been you too?