Dear Baby Girl,

Yesterday I heard your heart beat, strong and loud. Mommy’s doctor asked me and daddy if it felt real, if we had realized that I was going to carry you to term and you weren’t going to be born premature. Your daddy and I looked at each other and then back at her, and I said, “yes. It IS starting to feel real.”

Of course, you have felt real to me for a long time. It helps that I can literally feel you at all moments of the day. You love to squirm and stretch and according to the doctor, you are a big girl. This poses a bit of a problem because mommy is NOT big, but I don’t mind. Even though my ribs are battered and my back aches and I’m pretty sure my internal organs are mush, you are safe inside me and right now, there’s nowhere else I’d rather you be.

In a month you won’t be inside me anymore, but instead in my arms. If I could, I’d hold you forever, but I reluctantly will share you with daddy and assorted grandparents, uncles, aunties, and friends. I haven’t held a child since I held your sister nine months ago, and my arms ache for my babies.

For the last thirty-five weeks, I have thought about the kind of mother you are going to get. I am so sorry that you aren’t going to get the same mommy your sister got. Your mommy is going to be more scared, hesitant, and cautious. Your mommy has been burned badly by life and doesn’t want to ever let anything happen to you. You have saved my life, and I won’t do anything to risk yours. But I promise I will work on it. I promise not to make you live in a bubble. I promise I will let you fall down sometimes and make mistakes and occasionally eat some questionable things off the floor. I promise that we will have fun. I promise.

There are so many things I want for you. I hate that the thing I want the most can never be. I want you to grow up with your sister. I want to see the two of you interact. I want to see her push you, and I want to see the day when you figure out how to push her back. And then I will have to punish both of you, but secretly I will be pleased that I have two strong little girls. I want this for you so badly, but it will only be in my head.

I don’t know how I am going to explain what happened to your sister. I don’t really understand it myself, and I don’t think I ever will. I don’t want you to ever be scared that something like that will happen to you. I’m afraid of the day you’ll get sick with a cold and you’ll ask me if you might die. I’ll comfort you and care for you and I’ll do everything I can to make you feel better. I am so sorry that you will understand there is such a thing as life and death so early in your life. I’m so sorry.

I never want you to feel less-than. I already know that you are so special and wonderful, and I haven’t even looked in your eyes yet.

I hope that you love your sister. But I promise to understand if sometimes you have weird feelings about her. I hope that you will talk to me about them.

I want you to know that I love you. I can’t say how much, because love doesn’t have an amount. It can’t be measured. It just IS. I love you, and I love your sister, and there is no more or less to it. Mommies have a magical ability to love their little girls completely. There is a part of my heart that is yours and yours alone. You may share a mommy with someone else, but you will never have to share my love.

Yesterday, daddy and I bought you clothes and presents. We picked them out together, and we imagined you wearing them. We are starting to let ourselves believe that you are coming home. You have always been real, and you will be here really soon.

Love, Mommy