I was laying in the hospital bed waiting for the contractions to start naturally so I could deliver my babies and lay them to rest. The doctors had just confirmed that they could not save the lives of the boy/girl twins that had been growing inside my belly for the last 17 weeks.

I was in a resigned shock as I went through all of the events leading up to the dreadful moment when my water suddenly broke earlier that day. None of it made sense. Why was this happening? What did I do wrong? I could not stop wracking my brain for the reason why this was happening to me and my babies. I wanted to cry and scream but instead, I lay there in quiet pain, helpless to what was happening.

After a sleepless night, the contractions finally started the next morning. As I pushed my son and daughter out from my grasp and severed our physical connection, I softly whispered, “I love you.” In this moment, the tears finally began to pour out of me and continued to do so endlessly for months.

This letter goes out to my former self, a few weeks after that life-changing event when I felt like I was being swallowed whole by my grief and could not fathom returning to my “regular” life.

Dear Warrior,

I am sorry for your loss, my dear. I am sorry that you had to go through that heartbreaking experience. I am sorry for all the years of IVF cycles leading up to that moment that never worked out. I am sorry that you came so close to motherhood to end up in this way. I. Am. Sorry.

I know that you feel empty inside right now, not just because there is a void where your children used to be, but because that emptiness has spread to your heart and your soul. In this moment, I know it feels like you will forever be this empty shell of a person walking around aimlessly in life. However, I want you to know this: One day you will feel whole again. It will be a different wholeness, as this part of your life will stay with you forever, but you will fill up with joy again, one day.

For now, I need you to understand that none of this was your fault. You are not to blame for their loss. You enveloped your babies with so much love and they felt that love. You did not fail them.

Please know that this loss does not define you, your value or your self-worth. That they didn’t stay in your belly does not mean you aren’t worthy of becoming a mother. You were their mother and they were your children and you will forever have them in your heart.

I know that right now you feel tired—it is okay to feel this way. There isn’t one right way to grieve. All of the emotions that you feel are valid and should be felt and fully expressed so that one day you can finally let those feelings go and begin again. But there is no rush to return back to life and “get better.” Take all the time that you need so that you can truly heal within. This is your time to rest and to nurture every aspect of your being. Your “one day” and “eventually” will happen when the time is right for you and not according to anyone else’s timeline.

I know that right now you feel so alone and on some days that’s exactly how you want it to be. It’s okay to feel this way. Do know that when you are finally ready for support, you are surrounded by love. Your husband and your family are there to hold you up when you want to get up from the ground but don’t have the energy to do so. This love will help you heal.

Even in that dark bedroom that you lay in, day in and day out, a little light still manages to creep in somehow. We have those same cracks in our being where the light will find its way to get in and slowly, over time, pushes out the darkness and fills us back up with light.

This healing light can start with something simple like your breath. So, when it feels too hard to do anything, just breathe. Take a few deep and slow breaths and allow that breath to calm you within and spread its healing energy to every part of your being. Then wrap your arms around your body and envelop yourself in love and support.

On your toughest of days, I need you to remember this about yourself: You are a fighter. You are brave, strong and resilient because of everything you have gone through and faced. There is so much greatness, love and beauty within you. You deserve goodness in your life because you are worthy and you are enough. When you are finally ready to try again, know that you can do this because you are a warrior. One day the hope you need to move on will make its way back to you.

I wish I’d understood and had this wisdom when I was grieving the loss of my twins, but maybe I wouldn’t have been able to truly hear these words and internalize them. But maybe, just maybe, these words from someone who has gone through this and come out the other side will help in any small way heal someone else who is going through this right now.