Her name was Lily Anne. I discovered that I was pregnant with her on a Saturday night, and from the moment I knew she existed, I knew I was her mother and I loved her.
On a Wednesday morning in the spring, my midwife looked at me and said, “I can’t find a heartbeat.” She was gone.
I spent every minute of the next 30 staring at that ultrasound screen, studying her shape and knowing this was as close as I was ever going to get to seeing her face. Tiny arms folded across her belly, the curve of her head, legs tucked up high, each delicate feature burned into my brain with perfect accuracy while the rest of the room faded into hazy motion.
The doctor came in to confirm her passing, and the midwife offered her condolences while explaining what would happen next, but it was all just white noise filling the room around me, while my eyes focused on memorizing her sweet figure, and my mind filled in the gaps of things I couldn’t see. I imagined the ways her nose and mouth might resemble her brothers, and I wondered if her eyes were shaped like my husband’s or mine. We walked out of that office with a few pictures tucked inside an envelope, images that I look at today with as much pride as the hundreds of pictures we’ve taken of our sons.
The weeks that followed were accompanied by a grief I felt in every limb. It was heavy and physically painful; it moved me in places I had never been shaken. Today, months later, I am frequently surprised by this sadness that resurfaces and the depth of my longing to kiss her cheeks.