Thursday, January 2, 2014

Dear Kenley

Dear Kenley,

It's a new year. If you were here, you'd be 10 months old. We would have just celebrated your first Christmas. You'd be crawling around the house, maybe pulling yourself up to stand against the couch - no doubt scaring the pants off the dog. We would be a happy family of three, blissfully unaware of the tragedies that can befall us. But, that's another lifetime, Little Ninja. A universe where I cannot reach, no matter how hard I try. In this universe, I miss you every second of every day. There is not a moment where you are not on my mind or in my heart. But now, there is someone else in those places too. Now, there is your little sister, and I am trying so hard to balance my love for you both. But it's not easy.

When I first found out about Bean, I knew immediately this meant things would have to shift, and I wasn't sure how I was going to do it. I knew I would have to sort through your nursery and your clothes. I would have to decide what to keep sacred and what to use again. Over the last few months, I have been pulling an item or two at a time. A onesie. A stuffed owl. A blanket knitted with you in mind. I have tucked them away inside an old toy chest my uncle made me when I was little. I have slowly, slowly, slowly been removing you from your own room. Each time, I felt like I was stabbing myself in the heart. Each time, I felt like I was betraying you by hiding you away in a trunk. Yesterday was the coup de gras. Yesterday, I took the last remaining owls out of your room and we rearranged the furniture. With each push of the crib or twist of the dresser, I felt myself breaking for you again. And now, it's not your room anymore. It's Bean's. And I'm so sorry. Oh, baby girl, I'm so, so sorry. I'm sorry I can't keep it the same. I'm sorry I can't prepare for her without pushing you aside. I wish I could have you both, but I can't. I wish I could love you both without feeling guilty or torn. I suppose that will come with practice.

This morning, when I walked by the nursery, the changes were jarring. Really, it's just furniture in a different place, but it's a very obvious reminder that you are not here to use it. You will never be here. A room lovingly crafted for you will not be graced by your presence. Instead, we shift our lives and our hearts to make room for your sister. I am trying to get used to the new room because Bean will be here in a few months, and I need to associate that room with her - and not you. I need this room to be Bean's room. While I prepare for her, while I re-wash the clothes I'd first washed for you, while I reorganize the changing table that was supposed to be yours, I feel so divided. I am so happy to be carrying your sister in my belly, but I am still so devastated that you are gone. I feel like by getting ready for her arrival, I am somehow slapping you in the face. Like I am moving on and leaving you behind. But I'm not. I could never to that to you. You were my firstborn. You were the one who made me a mother. I will always love you. I will always think about you. But, it's so hard to be so conflicted all the time.

Your sister is just now starting to kick and twist. Every time she does, I smile because it reminds me she is still alive. And then, immediately, I remember your flips inside me. I remember our lazy Saturday mornings where you'd poke me and I'd poke you back. I loved those times. Being pregnant again so soon means that I remember the last time very clearly. I wear the same clothes. I even have leftover cocoa butter and Tums. Sometimes, I forget it's not you in there. I forget for a split second...and then it all rushes back in. This is another baby. Bean is not you. And when that makes me sad, I feel like I have betrayed Bean.

People have told me that many mothers struggle with their second child - figuring out how to make both children equal. They assure me that it's not that hard. But then, I really don't think the comparison is accurate. When a woman has two living children, those children are always visible to everyone. Each has a personality and a life to carve for themselves. You do not. You are not here to remind people that you matter, that you existed. That falls on me, and it's a pretty heavy load, but one I will gladly carry. People also tell me that when Bean gets here, I won't feel so conflicted. But, they are telling me how to walk in shoes they've never worn themselves. When your sister is here, it will be even more a reminder of the fact you are not, not less.

I want you to know that there is no amount of time that could ever pass that will make me love you less. I struggle with my preparations for Bean because my love for you is so great. I don't want to feel like loving her means I am not thinking about you too. This is so hard. I don't know how to handle it, but I am trying.

Moving you out of the nursery was the hardest thing I've done in a while, but it had to be done. Even if Bean weren't on her way, it would have become a necessary event to face eventually. But, turning that room into hers does not change where you belong in my heart. As she grows, she will know who you were. She will know that it was you who first shaped me into a mom. It was you who prepared me to be the best mother for her. It is your life, and your death, that has made me who I am. I will forever be grateful for you and for the brief time we had together.

You are not here, and I can't change that. All I can do is move forward - with your father by my side, your sister in my belly, and you in my heart. Whatever I need to do to get ready for her arrival, and then her life, please know I do it all not in spite of you but because of you. I love you now and forever, and I miss you just as much. You are not forgotten. You never will be.




On New Year's Eve, I took your sister to see your tree. This is a picture of the two of you.




  1. so beautiful Rebecca. I think about this all the time… i'm not pregnant yet, but when I am, we will be using Jack's room too. the thought of it just breaks me. I'm afraid of betraying him. And his urn is in there… it's still his room. But reading this beautiful letter to your daughter made me feel like I could do it, i guess because i'm not alone in having the same feelings.

    1. I send you good thoughts every day, Kelly.

      It's definitely not easy to make room in my heart and life for another child when Kenley should be here. Not because I don't love Bean, but because I love Kenley so fiercely and I feel like I have to protect and preserve her memory. When you get pregnant again, it will be hard to find that balance, but you can do it. Just remember that your love for Jack can never be lessened by loving another child. There IS room for all of our children inside our heart without overcrowding or shoving some out. We just have to work through a few things to find a comfortable fit. Love and hugs to you always. <3