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Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Dear Josie,
I believe in a mother's intuition.

In December of 2013 we took a vacation.  Your father, your brother and I, along with your grandparents and your aunts, traveled to Florida the day after Christmas and returned after New Years.  It was wonderful.  I was six months pregnant with you.

We stayed in a lovely condominium, and during our time there the three (well... four) of us would share a room, and also a bed.  It was a large bed, but I was getting bigger by the day.  Most nights I would wake to your brother on top of me, and after a swift elbow to the ribs I would end up on the comfy, spacious leather couch in the living room instead.

Very early one morning, I awoke to a strange thumping on my palm.   When I opened my eyes, I noticed that my hand was lying directly atop your brother's chest.  He was fast asleep but his heart was pounding.  Rapidly.  Enough to wake me.

I can't really explain how I felt then, only to say I felt different.  Like I was being watched in that moment.  Like someone was trying to tell me something.  It was so silent in the room, so dark, and I remember thinking:  I am supposed to notice this.  Like I was meant to wake then.  Like my hand was placed where it was for a reason. 

I stared at him for awhile, wondered what he was dreaming about.   When it didn't slow I began to worry, because that's what mothers do.

Why was his heart still racing?  Wasn't it too fast?  Did this happen every night? Was it the heart murmur he had as a newborn? Hadn't that resolved?  Did he have some condition we didn't know about?

I made a point to check on him the next night, and the night after that, and after we returned home.  I talked to your father about it.  I googled "pediatric resting heart rate" and "how fast should your heart beat when you are sleeping?" and "heart murmur complications".  I thought about it often, and I almost, almost made a call to our pediatrician, only I never noticed it again. 

And so we went about our normal routines.  We unpacked.  We put away the Christmas decorations.  We returned to work and to school.  I went back to being the blissfully pregnant person I had been with you, the person who actually looked forward to her ultrasounds.  The person who couldn't wait for that Doppler to be placed on her stomach.  The person whose babies never died.

And so, three weeks later, when the ultrasound technician made the comment that you "wouldn't be the biggest baby in the nursery," but assured me that you were still within the normal growth range, I forced myself to ignore the sinking feeling in my stomach.

And when a friend suggested we sign up for a breastfeeding class together, I didn't question my hesitation to register.  Didn't wonder why I waited so long, filling the very last slot on the very last day.  Never questioned my reluctance.  Didn't wonder why it felt strange putting my name on that line. 

And it never bothered me that I had tons of baby dreams while pregnant with your brother, as I have had several while carrying this baby, but I never had any during your pregnancy.  Not one. 

That feeling.  That feeling in my gut that kept rising alongside some artificial confidence. 

Looking back, I can point to the signs.  I can say “Yes, there.  I should have seen," because I believe I always knew you were different.  On some strange, indescribable level, I think I was trying to see, all the while not wanting to open my eyes.

Perhaps it's why six weeks after our vacation when you stopped moving, I knew you were gone.

Why I drank the cold water like they tell you to. Why I ate the fruit and lay on my side and wait.  And poke.  And wait.   And knew.

Why I told your father not to come with me to the hospital, because I could see the hope in his eyes, but I already knew.

Why I wanted to be wrong more than I have ever wanted anything.  Why I knew that I wasn't. 

Because as it happens, there had been a message in that room.  There had been something to worry about, only it hadn't involved your brother at all.

It was you.