Dear Baby Embry,
You have a funny little name, but I love it. Whenever I tried to talk to your daddy about what we might name you, he said you were just a little embryo, so we would have to call you Embry until you got bigger. We didn’t know you’d never have the chance to get bigger, so your little name stuck. I wonder what Jesus calls you. I don’t know what it will be like when we get to finally meet you, but I know I long for the day.
When I decided to write a letter to you, my first thought was to read what I wrote to you right after your death. I remember writing you a letter and sticking it in a blue binder. There it has lived with all the sweet cards and emails and my hospital bracelet and even the only pictures we have of you—pictures of a bright red bulge in a bright pink fallopian tube. I treasure all those mementos and during the days and weeks after your death I would look at them often to remind me that you were real. I was most afraid of forgetting that truth and maybe in my quest to have peace, I would just tuck you far away in my mind. But that blue binder has kept you present in my life. It has moved to three different homes in two states. Sadly, the cards and emails and hospital bracelets were added again after we lost your sibling two years later.
So I went to grab that binder and read through the letter I had written six years ago to a baby I never knew outside my womb. But I couldn’t find it. I looked in the the places I imagined I had put it, but it wasn’t there. The bookshelf. The cabinet with Josh’s baby book. The top of my closet where I shove birthday cards. I couldn’t find it. And I started to feel sick to my stomach and the wrenching feeling that I couldn’t find YOU. I became a bit of a crazy person. I tore apart our basement while my youngest two children watched me and asked, “What you doin’, Mom?” I couldn’t answer them. What was I doing? I was looking for you. I couldn’t stop. I felt like the mom who lost her child in the grocery store (He was JUST here, I swear! I just took my eyes away for a minute!). I felt like I failed you.
I did find your letter and your pictures. It was all tucked away in a little blue tub beneath boxes of your daddy’s old toys. There it was and it was exactly as I remembered. But those brief moments of panic reminded me of a larger reality: You aren’t here. And I miss you.
Our hearts weren’t made to cope with death, especially not the death of our child. You were loved and dreamed of and waited for and prayed for and longed for. But then you were gone and there was nothing I could do. I was your mother and I couldn’t protect you or keep you safe. In fact, I felt like my very body had failed you and been the cause of your death. I will never forget the moment we found out with certainty you were gone. The doctor prepared to do our ultrasound. There was only supposed to be one nurse in the room with him, but we had come to know and love the nurses at that clinic and they were so excited that after years of waiting, you existed. They all crammed into that ultrasound room. The doctor switched on the screen that faced him and the looks of joy on the faces of the nurses slowly started to fade. One by one, they quietly excused themselves, then the doctor turned the screen around to us. We saw the truth in front of us– you had grown in my fallopian tube until you couldn’t grow any more. And while your tiny body remained, you were gone.
I remember begging God to spare you. And then the pain lessened and I felt peace that while you would never come to us, we would someday go to you. I was honestly thankful that we had the gift of you even for just a little while. I’ve never stopped being thankful for that. For YOU. But I still miss you.
I thought maybe if I was finally able to experience pregnancy and giving birth, that that would heal some of my heart that broke when you died. But I didn’t realize instead it would rip the scab off the wound. In my mind you used to be a shadow of a person—a curly-haired child at the playground or the blue eyes of my cousin’s baby or the four year-old who can sing harmony. When my first biological son was born, the shadows went away. You would have looked like THIS child. You would have been like my Joel. And Joel is a wonderful boy. I don’t know if you would have blue eyes like him, or the serious (but hilarious) personality, or the love of books, or the musical ear, or the awesome dancing skills (just like Daddy), but I imagine you would be something like this little boy I get to hold in my arms and rock and teach and love. But I can’t hold you now. So I grieve that loss again and I wait (sometimes impatiently) for the day when I will see you face to face.
I want you to know that while it has been hard, I think I have seen glimpses of God’s good plan. When you opened your eyes for the first time, you saw the face of Jesus. I would never wish you back here if I could. And in God’s miraculous timing, it wasn’t until years down the road that I realized I would have been pregnant with you at the same time my son’s birth mom was pregnant with him. If you had been born to me, that child never would have come to this family. God knew what he was doing even when I didn’t. So I’m anxious for the day when I will know you and you will know your siblings (both the ones who share your genes and the ones who shared your parents). I’m thankful you have a sibling already there with you. You look out for each other and keep an eye out for me. It may be long or short until I get there, but you can bet I’ll be searching for you. Try not to look embarrassed when I hug you so tight and smother you with kisses.