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A love letter to the babies I lost to miscarriage

You are indelibly a part of me, and always will be.

A love letter to the babies I lost to miscarriage
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Dear baby XY,

Your due date was October 10, 2010. You were a “surprise." Your daddy and I had been married five years but only recently had discussed having a family. When I saw the two blue lines on the test stick, I shrieked. I was shocked, nervous and excited. Most of all, I felt a joy I had never previously experienced. I already loved you deeply, madly, immeasurably. In that moment, thanks to you, I turned into a mommy.


When we heard your heartbeat for the first time, we were giddy. You were really alive! The doctor said everything looked perfect and healthy. We sat in the ultrasound room, radiating with euphoria over your bold, fast, exquisite heartbeat and the flicker of light that was your heart in the center of your tiny blob shape. They told us you were the size of a grape, so we started lovingly referring to you as our grape.

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We couldn't help ourselves; we started dreaming and planning for your arrival. We told friends and family. My best friend and mom both sent me a few onesies in the mail. I stared at them in awe imagining you in them in seven months. There was already so much excitement and love for you.

Years before, I had dreamed of a baby boy, about four years old, who looked like his Daddy but had my eyes. He was playing in a sandbox and looked up at me and smiled. He said, “ Hi, Mommy. I'm not going to meet you yet but I can't wait to meet you one day." It was vivid. I knew this was you and it was finally time to meet you. It all felt so meant to be.

Then the bleeding and cramping started. I had a bad feeling—I had not felt as sick in the previous week and my breasts were no longer tender. I have never in my life prayed so hard. I bargained with God. I asked him please to keep you safe and growing inside me. The doctor said it was probably fine and some bleeding was normal but I didn't believe her and instinctively knew something was wrong.

One of the worst days of my life was the day I learned you were gone. I stared at the sonogram technician's face and watched as a frown slowly crept over her lips. My heart fell from my chest through the floor of the office. Your heart was no longer beating and the flash of light was gone. You were gone. I felt like I had been punched. The emptiness and pain was excruciating. You were gone, and I would never be the same.

There was a hole in my heart for months. I was utterly heartbroken. I walked around the busy streets of New York City feeling so alone. All I saw was pregnant women and children, reminders of what I could have had. I blamed myself. I was ashamed that my body let us both down. I never realized how much I wanted you until I lost you. When you were inside me growing, I felt bliss and hope and magic. Now every part of me ached.

To my dear baby XX,

You were conceived six months later. Your due date was May 5, 2011. We were scared but hopeful that this time would be different and we would get to meet you. Only a few weeks in, the all too familiar spotting started again. What followed was a nightmarish month where it looked like you could be saved but the doctors weren't sure. I took progesterone shots every day and laid with my feet up. I cried and I prayed again to God, the Universe, karma, fate and destiny to please, please let you stay with me. I went for a sonogram and blood work every day to check my levels and hear your heartbeat. I felt despair, then hope, then despair again. You were slipping away. Your heartbeat was weak in each sonogram until one day, it was gone.

Weeks later I found out you had been a girl. I imagined us together, skipping down the sidewalk on our way to ballet class, a mommy and her little girl. I wept as I looked through my list of baby names for you. My body failed yet again. I was embarrassed and angry at myself. Women were supposed to be able to have babies, why couldn't I do this? All I wanted in the world was to be your mommy.

We decided to refer to you as baby XY and baby XX, the son and daughter we lost. We didn't get to know you more than your than your gender, and your souls weren't with us for very long, but in that short period you were loved a lifetime.

I wasn't sure if I could go through the heartbreak again, but I couldn't stop thinking about you and all that could have been. So we tried and tried again. Finally, we succeeded. I am now a mommy to two beautiful boys. Motherhood has been everything I hoped for. I still think of you from time to time though, when a due date rolls around, or on a night where I look up and see stars shining in the sky. I imagine you floating through the clouds with angel wings, my heavenly babies whom I never met. You gave me purpose and our experience together made me the mommy I am today. You taught me about trauma and strength and hope. Your little lights stayed with me and helped me forgive myself. You taught me perseverance. Most importantly, you taught me about love.

I will never forget you my sweet baby XY and baby XX. You were not meant to be with me in this world, but you are indelibly a part of me, and always will be.

Azizah is a California bred New Yorker, mommy, wife, actress, producer and musician. You can follow Azizah on her blog, The Artist Mommy.

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This is how we’re defining success this school year

Hint: It's not related to grades.

In the ever-moving lives of parents and children, opportunities to slow down and reflect on priorities can be hard to come by. But a new school year scheduled to begin in the midst of a global pandemic offers the chance to reflect on how we should all think about measures of success. For both parents and kids, that may mean putting a fresh emphasis on optimism, creativity and curiosity.

Throughout recent decades, "school success" became entangled with "academic achievement," with cases of anxiety among school children dramatically increasing in the past few generations. Then, almost overnight, the American school system was turned on its head in the spring of 2020. As we look ahead to a new school year that will look like no year past, more is being asked of teachers, students and parents, such as acclimating to distance learning, collaborating with peers from afar and aiming to maintain consistency with schooling amidst general instability due to COVID.

Despite the inherent challenges, there is also an overdue opportunity to redefine success during the school year by finding fresh ways to keep students and their parents involved in the learning process.

"I always encourage my son to try at least one difficult thing every school year," says Arushi Garg, parenting blogger and mom of a 4-year-old. "This challenges him but also allows me to remind him to be optimistic! Lots of things in life are hard, and it's important we learn to be positive during difficult times. Fostering a sense of optimism allows kids to push beyond what they thought possible, like biking without training wheels or reading above their grade level."

Here are a few mantras to keep in mind this school year:

Quality learning matters more than quantifying learning

After focusing on standardized measures of academic success for so long, the learning environment this next school year may involve more independent, remote learning. Some parents are considering this an exciting opportunity for their children to assume a bigger role in what they are learning—and parents are also getting on board by supporting their children's education with engaging, positive learning materials like Highlights Magazine.

As a working mom, Garg also appreciates that Highlights Magazine can help engage her son while she's also working. She says, "He sits next to me and solves puzzles in the magazine or practices his writing from the workbook."

Keep an open mind as "school" looks different

Whether children are of preschool age or in the midst of high school, "going to school" is bound to look different this year. Naturally, this may require some adjustment as kids become accustomed to new guidelines. Although many parents may wish to shelter our kids from challenges, others believe optimism can be fostered through adversity when everyone is committed to adapting to new experiences.

"Honestly, I am yet to figure out when I will be comfortable sending [my son] back [to school]," says Garg. In the meantime, she's helping her son remain connected with friends who also read Highlights Magazine by encouraging the kids to talk about what they are learning on video calls.

Follow children's cues about what interests them

For Garg, her biggest hope for this school year is that her son will create "success" for himself by embracing new learning possibilities with positivity.

"Encouraging my son to try new things has given him a chance to prove that he can do anything," she says. "He takes his previous success as an example now and feels he can fail multiple times before he succeeds."

There's no denying that this school year will be far from the norm. But, perhaps, we can create a new, better way of defining our children's success in school because of it.

This article was sponsored by Highlights. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Time-saving formula tips our editors swear by

Less time making bottles, more time snuggling.

As a new parent, it can feel like feeding your baby is a full-time job—with a very demanding nightshift. Add in the additional steps it takes to prepare a bottle of formula and, well… we don't blame you if you're eager to save some time when you can. After all, that means more time for snuggling your baby or practicing your own well-deserved self-care.

Here's the upside: Many, many formula-feeding mamas before you have experienced the same thing, and they've developed some excellent tricks that can help you mix up a bottle in record time. Here are the best time-saving formula tips from editors here at Motherly.

1. Use room temperature water

The top suggestion that came up time and time again was to introduce bottles with room temperature water from the beginning. That way, you can make a bottle whenever you need it without worrying about warming up water—which is a total lifesaver when you have to make a bottle on the go or in the middle of the night.

2. Buy online to save shopping time

You'll need a lot of formula throughout the first year and beyond—so finding a brand like Comforts, which offers high-quality infant formula at lower prices, will help you save a substantial amount of money. Not to mention, you can order online or find the formula on shelves during your standard shopping trip—and that'll save you so much time and effort as well.

3. Pre-measure nighttime bottles

The middle of the night is the last time you'll want to spend precious minutes mixing up a bottle. Instead, our editors suggest measuring out the correct amount of powder formula into a bottle and putting the necessary portion of water on your bedside table. That way, all you have to do is roll over and combine the water and formula in the bottle before feeding your baby. Sounds so much better than hiking all the way to the kitchen and back at 3 am, right?

4. Divide serving sizes for outings

Before leaving the house with your baby, divvy up any portions of formula and water that you may need during your outing. Then, when your baby is hungry, just combine the pre-measured water and powder serving in the bottle. Our editors confirm this is much easier than trying to portion out the right amount of water or formula while riding in the car.

5. Memorize the mental math

Soon enough, you'll be able to prepare a bottle in your sleep. But, especially in the beginning or when increasing your baby's serving, the mental math can take a bit of time. If #mombrain makes it tough to commit the measurements to memory, write up a cheat sheet for yourself or anyone else who will prepare your baby's bottle.

6. Warm up chilled formula with water

If you're the savvy kind of mom who prepares and refrigerates bottles for the day in advance, you'll probably want to bring it up to room temperature before serving. Rather than purchase a bottle warmer, our editors say the old-fashioned method works incredibly well: Just plunge the sealed bottle in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes and—voila!—it's ready to serve.



Another great tip? Shop the Comforts line on Comfortsforbaby.com to find premium baby products for a fraction of competitors' prices. Or, follow @comfortsforbaby for more information!

This article was sponsored by The Kroger Co. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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Chrissy Teigen/Instagram

When Chrissy Teigen announced her third pregnancy earlier this year we were so happy for her and now our hearts are with her as she is going through a pain that is unimaginable for many, but one that so many other mothers know.

Halfway through a high-risk pregnancy complicated by placenta issues, Teigen announced late Wednesday that she has suffered a pregnancy loss.

Our deepest condolences go out to Chrissy and her husband, John Legend (who has been by her side in the hospital for several days now).

In a social media post, Teigen explained she named this baby Jack.

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"We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we've never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn't enough," she wrote.

She continued: "We never decide on our babies' names until the last possible moment after they're born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever."

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