I thought there’d be one more.

One more baby to swaddle and sway to sleep in my arms.

One more baby to praise for those first steps taken and first words spoken.

One more baby to watch transform into a child, so very slowly and so very quickly all at once.

One more baby to call me mama.

I imagined my arms holding three children.

But they’ll hold only two, at least here on earth.

RELATED: The Loss Mom Club

Despite the fact that I’ve been pregnant four times, that four babies have called my body home.

Maybe it’s the new babies in my newsfeed that have drawn me into a place of grief for what I thought I’d have, but don’t.

I’m fortunate to have two in my arms. So very fortunate.

But sadness lingers because I thought I’d have another.

The road to one was paved, easy, with not one bump to speak of. And I didn’t know how lucky I was.

But the road to two children in my arms? Not so much.

There were sinkholes that swallowed my next two babies. Detours that left me scared, lost, and hopeless that I’d ever find my way back to the road that led to another living newborn baby.

But that treacherous road finally led to a rainbow. A new baby, a new life that helped bring me back to life.

And for a time, I thought maybe, just maybe, there could be one more.

But the road I’d traveled had been too long, too hard, to wearisome. It broke me. I knew it was time to stop. I knew it was time to turn and head in another direction.

I knew leaving the baby years behind was the right decision.

Even though I didn’t want to.

Sure, I might have had another healthy baby. Sure, I could have chosen to return to that road of pregnancy after loss. But that route could just as easily have resulted in more loss. And I didn’t have it in me to attempt the hazardous journey again.

RELATED: A Rainbow Baby Helps Heal a Broken Heart But the Scars of Loss Remain

So, I’ll love the two I get to hold. I’ll fold my hands in deep gratitude for the opportunity to have them here with me.

And I’ll grieve for what I thought my motherhood would look like, but doesn’t.

Because no matter how many babies she holds in her arms, the mama who has lost never forgets that there should be at least one more.

This article originally appeared on A Beautifully Burdened Life by Jenny Albers

Jenny Albers

Jenny Albers is a wife, mother, and writer.  She is the author of Courageously Expecting, a book that empathizes with and empowers women who are pregnant after loss. You can find Jenny on her blog, where she writes about pregnancy loss, motherhood, and faith. She never pretends to know it all, but rather seeks to encourage others with real (and not always pretty) stories of the hard, heart, and humorous parts of life. She's a work in progress, and while never all-knowing, she's (by the grace of God) always growing. When she's not typing words, she can be found wrangling a fiery little boy and nurturing a quickly growing girl. She's a tea-addicted, jewelry-loving, cat-obsessed, Jesus-following, introverted midwestern girl who is thrilled to connect with you from the other side of the screen. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram.