To my sweet nephew and unborn niece:
It wasn't too long ago that your mommies shared the good news that you were coming! What an exciting time for our families - new babies to love on, cousins that would grow up together to become lifelong friends. My heart rejoiced that our lives were taking us all down this path together and that I'd be able to share stories and swap ideas with both of your mommies. It made me so happy that I wasn't going to go through this alone.
It's been 11 weeks since your sweet cousin Olive went to be with Jesus. Your mommies came and showed us love and support, but deep down I wondered what her short life and death meant for them as well. I wondered how I would be able to show them the same love and support when it came/comes time for you to be born.
The truth is, this has been hard.
I struggle daily with how to show them support without seeming like I'm over-doing it or making anyone think I'm doing it because I feel like I have to. I struggle with how I'll get through the first holidays or watch babies so close in age to my Olive grow up in our family. I struggle with how to be the cool, fun aunt and still be Olive's mommy at the same time. I battle thoughts in my head that Olive will be replaced or overlooked because she is no longer here. As Olive's mommy, my only job left is to protect her memory. So my promise to you is that I will share her with you. I will tell you of your cousin Olive and how much fun you would have had together!
I want you to know that you are loved. I've loved you from the moment I found out about you, but it may take some time for me to show you love the way I want to - the way you deserve.
Baby E - I want so much to wrap my arms around you and snuggle you and take in your beautiful smell. Sweet boy, I'll get there - I promise. Being in the NICU with you brings back too many difficult memories, after all, you're in the room right next to where your baby cousin was. The beeping of the machines, passing the hallway where she was carried home to heaven - it's all so overwhelming right now. Your uncle got to hold you last night, he held you for the both of us. He later said to me, "how can anyone be sad holding a baby?" My heart breaks that I've not felt the weight of you in my arms yet - but I am sad and scared. Let me assure you that the thought of holding you isn't what makes me sad. I didn't get to hold my own baby for very long and that makes me sad. I'm scared that holding you will somehow erase the weight of her in my arms. I know that is so silly, but it's how I feel right now. I know that I'll come around - I just ask that you be patient with me. And know that when I do finally hold you, I probably won't ever want to put you down!
Baby girl - when I found out that Olive would have had a little girl cousin to grow up with my heart broke. It broke for her, it broke for you and selfishly, it broke for me. We didn't know that Olive was a girl before she was born, but I knew that Olive's other cousin was a boy and that eventually we'd find out what you were too. I had hoped, that whatever you were that you were the same as Olive -so when we found out that you were indeed a girl my heart was heavy for what could have been. I secretly hoped Olive was a girl before she was born and I would daydream about buying you both all kinds of fun, girly things. I dreamed of family vacations visiting one or the other, where the two of you would play all day and then fall asleep giggling at the thought of something so silly just like I did with one of my cousins. I imagined when we would find out what you were that I would go to the store and send you a package from your cousin and I - letting you know that we were patiently (or impatiently) awaiting your arrival. The truth is, I can't walk into a store without covering my eyes as I pass the baby section. I can't bring myself to buy you a dress or cute tights with ruffles on the butt - not even a pink toy. But I'll get there, I promise. And after I'm able to practice holding Baby E for awhile - my hope is that my arms will long for you too.
I know you're little now, and won't even know or remember that I didn't hold you right away or send you a frilly dress at the announcement of your gender, but I know and it makes me sad. It makes me sad that a part of our family will always be missing, sad that you'll never know your cousin Olive, sad that none of us will get to see all of you grow up together the way we had hoped. But I'm also very excited- excited to see the joy you will add to our family, excited to watch you grow into extraordinary people, excited for the love and healing you will bring to me and your uncle.
Be patient with me. There will most likely be a day, maybe months or years from now, when I'm stopped in my tracks at something you do or say. I may find myself watching you do something that will bring tears to my eyes, or hear you call out to your mamas and wonder what my life would have been like if Olive were still here. I'm sure that I'll hear her in your laughs and squeals, and that I'll feel her in your hugs and kisses.
And it will make my love for both of you grow deeper and deeper still.