What you don’t know is the ultrasound picture on the refrigerator isn’t you. I couldn’t bring myself to take hers down, and still can’t. 

Your favorite stuffed animal was a gift, but it was to me, first. My best friend gave it to me when we lost your sister. I kept it in my purse while pregnant with you so I would be brave and remember to smile. Just like the St. Francis necklace you reach for was a gift from your granddad to protect you. And the scarf I wear every October 8, December 3, and June 17 is from your grandmother. It comforts me on hard days and the baby we lost feels close to me. And so many other things in your life are memorials to her–the gold P in Mom’s car, the angel on Mom’s desk, and the silver chain I put on the Christmas tree.

RELATED: I Still Miss the Baby I Never Met

What you don’t know is your godparents bought a memorial brick at their church. It says, “Baby Durham” but it’s dated the year before you were born.

What you don’t know is your uncle and namesake was the first person I saw after we found out about losing her. He knew what happened, but when I passed him on the road, I kept driving. He slammed his brakes and reversed until I stopped. We cried and hugged in the middle of the road for a very long time.

He loves you double–he loves you for two.

What you don’t know is I cried when I saw your pregnancy test show positive. They were not happy tears, they were scared tears, and they were tears for her. The fear of losing you was overwhelming, and I couldn’t overcome the irrational guilt of replacing her.

Her pregnancy test was so different–so celebrated. I could not wait to tell everyone about her. I’ll never forget showing your dad her pregnancy test or the day I told your grandparents and great grandparents about her. With you, I cried myself to sleep and kept you a secret as long as I could.

RELATED: I’m Not Attached to My Rainbow Baby Yet

Always know, your dad believed in you when I could not. He carried us through every doubt and every doctor visit. We were never alone. Your dad never second-guessed– he has been your champion since the very beginning.

He will always believe in you.

Your very special doctor took extra care of you because he knew what we had been through. We met on the worst day, and he was with us through the best. He took my weekly calls, agreed to extra (and frequent) ultrasounds and Dopplers. Hearing your heartbeat was the only thing that made me feel better. 

Blessed baby. You came 10 days early on October 3—10 months to the day after we found out about losing your sister. You knew I needed you, and you came as fast as you could. Thank you, my little rainbow baby. I marvel at how well you take care of me. You do and have done more for me than I can ever do for you. 

What you must know is it isn’t a trade. You aren’t here because we lost her, and she didn’t leave so we can have you.

She lived the life she was meant to live, and you are living yours. She made us who we are today as much as she made you who you are today. And like you, baby, she is always with us and stays with us. I read that throughout pregnancy, babies transfer their cells to their mother. Her cells stayed with me, so some were subsequently transferred to you. Her purpose in life continues, in you, and in us. 

RELATED: A Letter to My Mama, From Your Baby in Heaven

You don’t know all the things people did for her–candles in kitchens and German cathedrals, prayers (so many prayers), cupcake deliveries, flowers, and care packages. Even though you were not here yet, those things were for you, too.

In the way you connect with people, I cannot help but think you know. And you are thankful.

You find ceiling fans in every room. Even when they are not moving, your eyes glitter and dart. We tell you there are angels in the fans watching over you–and your special sister is with them. 

And what you don’t know is God’s plan for your life. He gives and takes away–sometimes there is a you at the end, and sometimes there is not. Trust in Him. Even when it feels impossible, know you are right where you need to be.

Elly Durham

Elly Durham lives on her family cattle ranch in southeast Colorado.