One year ago, my life changed. We learned you were on the way.
Your dad encouraged me to take a pregnancy test when my period was late. I thought it was just that - my period was late. I had only had one since Ben was born and I figured I wasn't regular yet. Besides, I had just stopped breastfeeding him... on his first birthday... 11 days before. I was ready for a break.
I did take a test a few days before April 15. It was one left over from when I got pregnant with Ben. The test came back telling me to read the directions. (But I did! And I never read directions!) The period still didn't come, and I borrowed a couple of tests from my neighbor friend.
Your dad was running on the treadmill in the basement when I peed on the stick. Well, that's not right. I always pee in a cup and hold the sticks in the cup. It is far less messy that way.
And I thought if I squinted a little bit, I could see a faint pink line.
I took the tests down the two flights of stairs to show your dad, and on the way, one of those tests flew out of my hands. (I found it months and months later, when I had my big Lydie belly. I laughed at the sight of it then). I held out my hand and said, "I think there may be a line there."
Your dad almost fell off the treadmill.
That day, during busy moments, I'd forget about that pink line, and then it would hit me all over again, and I'd think "Holy shit!"
A couple of days later, I took yet another test and that second line was no longer faint. It was dark. You were real.
I wrote here how I was overwhelmed at first, calculating your due date (my poor Christmas baby) and the distance you'd be apart from your brother (only 20 months!). Your dad and I love your brother, but he's never been easy and he's pretty exhausting. I told myself we'd just lead crazy lives for a few years.
A few weeks later, Ben donned his new "Big Brother" shirt to tell your Oma Jo and Pop-Pop and Aunt Laura (Uncle D had already caught on that I wasn't drinking). A couple of days after that, we saw your little heart beating on the ultrasound.
Later, when people asked if you were planned, which is a completely inappropriate and far too personal question, your dad answered, "It was on the early side of the plan." You were on the early side, for sure. But you were always part of the plan.
We've struggled to make new plans in these last 5 months. We don't want new plans. We just want you.
We've struggled on what it means to be a family of four, but to the outside world, look like a family of three. Sometimes I feel like we're finding our way. We light your candle every evening and your big brother says "I love you, Lydie" (if his mouth isn't full). Sometimes he needs some prompting from your dad and me, but the moments that melt my heart the most are when he says it on his own. Later, he'll say it again, as he looks out his window, up at the sky, and says good night to you. I'm not sure he knows what these rituals mean yet, but your dad and I do. It means you're part of us, you're here with us in our hearts and you're always on our minds. And we so wish things were different.
Some days I feel like I'm learning to accept that they'll never be. That I'll always carry this grief, just like I carry this love for you. That I'll always feel a deep longing that my life - that your life - turned out this way.
That I couldn't change it, that I couldn't fix it, that our love wasn't enough to keep you here. That I could do everything right and things could still go so horribly wrong.
I know I'm finding myself bitter and resentful and angry. I know that's not the person you'd want me to be. I know that's not the legacy you want to leave behind. I try to remind myself of that.
I hope I can claw my way out of those feelings and instead cling to the love I have for you.
I struggled with this concept in the beginning. What was the point? What was the point of carrying you for 34 weeks? Of buying you so many clothes, of opening a 529 account for you, of Oma Jo making a curtain for your nursery? Of all the plans and all the dreams of you? What was the point of doing all that, if you were never, ever going to be here?
I still struggle with that, but one thing I know: I wouldn't change a thing. I wouldn't change that faint pink line one year ago. I wouldn't change all those dreams we had for you or all the raspberries your brother gave you. I would choose to do it all again, knowing the outcome. (And I would appreciate it more).
We lost a lot when we lost you.
But we didn't lose the love.
So now, because we can't kiss you or hold you or watch you start to crawl, we need to find other things to do with that love. And as we discover those things, those little rituals that help me and your dad and your brother feel closer to you, I hope you feel us and our love.
Because that's what remains.
I love you, my Lydie Girl.