To the woman I was once after pregnancy loss,

I’ll never forget the day we meteven though an entire decade has since passed.

You were wrapped up on the couch in a tan Sherpa blanket you received at a secret Santa gift exchange that happened just days beforea party you attended when you were still pregnant with both baby and hope. The night it was gifted to you, you envisioned cold nights wrapped up warm while rocking your baby to sleep or nursing her at your breast. The soft, pillowy fabric on one side and smooth, faux velvet on the other would embrace you in the same comfort you would give your tiny, precious babe once she was in your arms.

But on the day we met, nothing felt soft, warm, or comforting.

You sat frozen on the couchyour body neither relaxed nor moving. Your glassy eyes fixated on the nothingness in front of you. You were still enrobed in that blanket, this time hoping to stave off the chill that had descended on you that December day. But it wasn’t the weather you were trying to placate. It was the ice-cold clarity that your baby was gone, and you would never get her back. You tried to deny it. Your blanket attempted to conceal the fresh wounds from the surgeon across your abdomen. But with every breath you took, a visceral pain demanded that you face this frigid reality. Denial was a luxury you simply could not afford.

You were a shell, I can see that now—of the woman you were and the woman you thought you would become.

Yes, your body was emptied of baby, but more of you had hemorrhaged out with the blood: Your hope. Your faith. The foundations that held you steady. Your confidence. Your very identity. All sucked from you with the surgeon’s tube and deposited as medical waste.

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At least parts of you went with your babya small comfort that is truly no comfort at all. Because “medical waste” was never a word you wanted to be associated with your child. Nor was it a respectable ending for her far-too-short life.

And so there you sat, numb, broken, hurting, and believing that all good things were lost when your baby died.

If I could go to you then, at that moment, I’d long to give you a fast-pass through the pain.

I would be tempted to tell you in the end, you’d finally receive your rainbow baby. And that the light of her life would not diminish the darkness behind you or the darkness yet to come, but that her light was enough reason to keep persevering through it all.

I would tell you that you would come to love and raise your other children, children born into your heart, but not from your womb. And yet, the love you have for them would not know the difference between biological bonds or foster bonds or adoptive bonds.

Your heart would simply be all in. Period.

“Your identity is not gone,” I’d be tempted to say. “As you lose parts of yourself, other parts will take their place. Who you are in the end looks a lot different than the person you are now. Not better, not worse. Just different. Even still, you will survive this falling apart and putting back together.”

I’d be tempted to reveal all the joy still to come in your futureand gloss over all the pain and all the losses yet to come.

But none of those words to you, the woman I once was after pregnancy loss, would have been the right onesno matter how much I wanted to fill you with hope and give you reasons to keep going.

Instead, I’d do this one simple thing: I would be with you.

I’d tuck the edges of the blanket around you, letting you know it’s OK to rest, let your loved ones take over all the important tasks. I would hold your hand and sit with you. If you were thirsty, I’d bring you a warm cup of tea or hot coffee to help you stave off that chill.

If you were ready to talk, I would listen deeply, acknowledging all of your feelings without wishing any of them away.

As I sat next to you on the couch, I would gently say the words you longed to hear, “Your baby will always be important and worthy of your love, and no matter how much time passes, that truth will always remain. And you will always be important and worthy of your love, and no matter how much time passes, that truth will always remain.”

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And as my time with you that day came to an end, I would hug you and rise to leave. “You can see me standing before you,” I’d say. “You are broken now. That is OK. I just want you to know, you will yet rise.”

With one final, sincere look, I would add, “Don’t you worry about that now. You don’t need to be strong or try to strive. You just snuggle up in your blanket. You receive every bit of comfort you can right now. And grieve however and however long you need to, dear woman I once was after pregnancy loss.”

Rachel Lewis

Rachel Lewis is a bio, foster, and adoptive mom with three children in her arms, five babies in heaven, and a foster son in her heart. She is the author of Unexpecting: Real Talk on Pregnancy Loss (Bethany House, 2021), the blogger behind The Lewis Note, and the founder of Brave Mamas, an online support group for grieving moms. Connect with Rachel on Facebook and Instagram