Since her birthday on the 11th of each month, I pick out a cute outfit and lay our baby girl on the ever so popular month mat—a trendy template for taking regular pictures of quickly changing babies during their first year of life.
Today, however, is a different celebration.
Many months before we welcomed our sweet girl, there was a dream of another baby with a due date on the 11th—a baby boy we lost at 12 weeks. His would-be birthday was circled on our calendar with a heart. In hindsight, a heart-wrenching sight when it came and went without a baby in our arms.
As we approach what would be his first birthday, it is with a conflicted heart that only someone who has experienced such loss can understand. It’s with a deep sadness and a wondering of what might have been. Who he might have been. Who he might have had the opportunity to become. How he might have changed us and changed our son.
But it’s also with a deep gratitude for the lessons he taught me about perseverance as we decided to try again to expand our family. He taught me that so much is out of our control. He taught me the importance of hard and honest conversations with our son who knew about our pregnancy and had to walk in the loss alongside mom and dad.
He reminded me of the vows my husband and I took—in sickness and in health—and showed me a new side of my spouse as he held my heart in his own grief. He taught me the true depth of a mother’s love as there is a deep, palpable place in my heart for someone I will never know.
And while I quietly mourn what might have been about our boy, I celebrate him and his brief time in our hearts because, without him, we would not have our daughter.
So, on this 11th day of this month, I celebrate both of them. My babies.