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Dear baby,

There is still so much about your dad and me you don’t know, but that takes time. Parents aren’t the only ones watching loved ones evolve. Over time, kids meet new versions of their parents too—we change, we make mistakes, we grow.

I often think about what an adult relationship with you would look like, how we might bond or argue, the inside jokes we might have, how we’d show each other love.

I hope we’d be close.

I don’t know if you’d be loud and goofy like your dad, an empath like me, or something else entirely. Maybe you’d be overtly social, or maybe you’d be on the quieter side. Maybe you’d surprise us both and hate team sports. Maybe your passions would consist of something we know nothing about. Whatever your interests, though, we’d do our best to love them too because to know us is to know we love you. To know us is to know we’d do our best to meet you wherever you are.

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I think a lot about the day we found out I was pregnant with you. It happened on the first try—something we never expected—and it felt like fate. We called your grandparents immediately and relished their squeals of excitement. We surprised your visiting nana with a perfectly wrapped gift—the proof of you lying sweetly within the gold and white striped box.

We planned the way we’d announce you to the world, taking pictures in front of our Christmas tree with a chalkboard sign, smiles beaming across our faces. And we argued. I can’t even remember what about, but we fought because that’s the other thing about us, we aren’t perfect. In fact, it was a pretty ugly fight, but we made up and moved on because we also love each other fiercely and we aren’t afraid to forgive or admit our mistakes.

We’d only had you for a few weeks, and then one night, the bleeding started.

We prayed it was anything but the worst. We begged for you to be okay. We hoped and we pleaded, but my heart knew. An ER trip, two agonizing days, and one devastating ultrasound later, and you were gone. The doctor told us this was common, these things just happen sometimes, but that didn’t help. Something so heartbreaking shouldn’t be common, but here we were, the 1 in 5, the statistic. The bleeding stopped after a few weeks, but the ache is still there. I’m not sure that’s a wound that ever fully heals.

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You have two siblings now—a brother and a sister. Their pregnancies were far from easy and riddled me with anxiety, but our short time with you showed us a level of love we hadn’t known was possible before, and we knew we wanted more of that. We wanted all the experiences we should have had with you. You had made us parents, and as painful as it was to lose you, we were eager to fill all the responsibilities those roles came with, every nook and cranny.

I get glimpses of you now from time to time.

Your due date shows up on receipts, the sweater I wore in your announcement still hangs in my closet, and the gold and white striped box is tucked on the shelf of my nightstand. I don’t know which foods you’d have loved or hated, how the sun would have highlighted your hair, or what you would have felt like in my arms. So much of you will always be a mystery, but I do know you’d understand what love feels like, because that’s the other thing about us—here or not, our hearts have never stopped stretching for you.

Lindsay Pagni

Lindsay resides in Reno, Nevada, with her husband and two kids. Her deep love for the written word inspired her to co-found Polished it, LLC, an editing and writing company. Most days, you can find her sipping iced coffee, talking baseball with her husband, and finding new ways to make her kids laugh.

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