Having A Baby, After Giving One Up

by Laura Dekle
Originally Published: 
A mother in a white shirt kissing her newborn baby on the chin after giving one up

Dear baby:

I haven’t told many people this, but there was another baby before you.

I was young and I wasn’t in a place in life where I could take care of him, so I gave him to some people who were in a place in life to take care of him, and they wanted him more than anything.

It broke my heart to grow this person inside of me knowing that he would never be mine. I told myself that he belonged more to me than the people who would raise him, but I knew that wasn’t true. He would be theirs, too. They would be his parents, and I would be his birth mother. He wouldn’t recognize my face in a crowd or ask me to sing him lullabies at night even though I can’t sing well. He would be my baby, but never my son.

I saw him for a passing minute in the frenzy of hospital chaos and my heart fell in love with his. This human who had spent so much time in me, who had seen me from the inside was here. He had been with me for so long, and now he was here, looking at me with his eyes – his eyes that had grown inside of me.

He was my best friend. He was the only one during all of those months who was there when I was sad and crying.

He was leaving to go spend his whole life with a different woman, and I had to let him. She would get to be the one to kiss his boo-boos and cuddle him close and roll her eyes in exasperation when he was being a handful and smile knowingly and sentimentally when he fell asleep in the car after a long day. I was insanely jealous of her, this lucky woman who got to spend the rest of her life worrying about my child when he was out late and teaching him how to be a gentleman.

What if he thought that the only part I played in his life was a physical one, the birth part, and then didn’t care enough to stay? What if he thought I had spent those months waiting for him to get out and go somewhere else? What if he thought that I didn’t love him enough to keep him in my life?

The opposite was true: I loved him so much that I let him be someone else’s son, so that he could be his happiest. Every single day since, no matter how busy or distracted or happy I have been with my now much better and fuller life, I have thought about him. Where is he? What is he doing today? Will I ever see him again?

But now, in this moment, six years later, I am looking at you. You just came out of me. I am looking at your eyes, which grew inside me. You came to me through a series of good decisions (or luck, whatever you want to call it), whereas he came to me as a result of a series of ill-advised, juvenile, emotional-but-not-logical decisions.

I loved him with a heart-wrenching, desperate love. When I looked at him, I could not be at peace because my heart was being slowly torn in two–in the most painful way possible. But now, I can look at you, and my heart is resting. You are mine to have, to hold, to roll eyes at, to send to your room when you are bad, to snuggle when you are scared, to read stories to, to mother. Both of you are mine, but you are mine to keep. Maybe one day you will get to meet him.

You have both changed my life forever. You lived in me for months, and now you will live with me and I will be your mommy. I will spend every day until I die worrying about you and hoping you are wearing a jacket, not running with scissors, drinking your milk, and making good decisions. And I will get to raise you to make sure that you do. You have redeemed me as a mother.

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