Trigger Warning:  This post contains themes of miscarriage and pregnancy loss.

The post was originally published on April 30, 2016, on Leah Elizabeth Writes.

Three days before the strip turned pink, we bought a puppy.

I confess, your daddy didn’t want one. Not then. I begged him for a puppy. Begged him like I’ve never begged before. And when that failed, I stamped my feet.  I cried. I was wholly spoiled and wholly irrational in ways I couldn’t even begin to understand, but I didn’t care. I refused to return home without a dog.

We adopted that day a beautiful springer spaniel, and she was love incarnate. All it took to make that puppy happy was to hold her in your arms, let her rest her chin on your knee, or possibly, if she could just be sneaky enough, share your pillow. She was meant for a family, and three days later, a family we would be.

Without realizing, I created rules to guarantee a healthy baby. I guzzled fish oil, took natural, wholefood vitamins, and stocked our fridge with freshly cut carrots and eggs, just like the baby book said. I banned zebra cakes from the house and stopped wearing makeup. We wouldn’t tell anyone until 12 weeks. Wouldn’t buy anything until 12 weeks. We would follow all the rules, and at 12 weeks we would breathe easy.

But at 10 weeks we went in for our first ultrasound, and you were too beautiful for words. We had to share you. We couldn’t not share you. So that night, we introduced you to the world.

That Saturday, I wandered into a baby boutique. Just to peruse. Just for inspiration. But I spied a laundry hamper with a bright yellow lion smiling on its side, and I just knew that my baby would be surrounded by animals. So I bought it, and two cubbies painted with the jungle. I opened them and and set them up that night in the office that would be a nursery. Just to make me smile.

On Monday, I bled. I had never seen your daddy move so fast, from our house to the hospital in less than five minutes. In the ER, we heard your heart beat, and we knew all was well.

On Wednesday, I bled again. Back to the hospital. But on the ultrasound you waved your arms at me, and I knew all was well.

But on Thursday, I bled again. Worse. So much worse. And while all signs pointed to you being healthy, I was not. Mommy slept in the hospital that night. No more ultrasounds until the bleeding stopped.

For 11 days I stayed in bed. I lay on my left side, to give you the best chance. To give you the most oxygen. To breathe life into you.

By the twelfth day, the bleeding had slowed and the doctor ordered an ultrasound. Your daddy and I stayed up all night, so excited to see our baby the next day. But when the lights dimmed and the nurse pulled out her wand, I could tell the picture wasn’t right. It didn’t match the other pictures we had seen. No kicking legs, no eager waves.

“Am I empty?” My voice felt small in the silent room.

The doctor only nodded.

And you know, I think it comes down to this. You had so many people praying what I was meant to pray–that you would pull through, be healthy, be happy with me. But I couldn’t make myself pray that way. Instead, I prayed you would be safe, that if I had to carry this pain that it would never reach you. I prayed God would keep you where ever He thought best, and that you would know how much I loved you.

Forgive me. I’d had so little time to practice, and it was the only way I knew to be a mother.