I’ve always been a writer. Not always a consistent writer, but a writer nonetheless. I have boxes and boxes of half-filled journals starting from middle school when I had a “locking” diary sporting a cute kitten on the front of it, all the way up to several years of my current favorite Moleskine cahier journals that have dominated my writing over the past five to six years.
I’ve written through so many formational seasons of my life: middle school, high school, college and camp years, crushes, dating, breakups, seminary, marriage, ministry. And then, in 2015 my most recent journal stopped at the start of what was probably the single most formational season of my life.
December 9, 2015. I wrote on the day I found out I was pregnant with Alexander:
“It’s incredible to me how fast – and how simultaneously slow – life can change… This is real… Here’s to the next great adventure.”
And that is where my journal ended. All of the following pages are blank. Nothing written about sharing the news with family, announcing our pregnancy on social media, or any of the other fun and quirky things about pregnancy. I wish I had known that those memories would be all I would have with Alexander, and that I had taken more time to document them and write. I wish I had taken more pictures while pregnant, even though I felt like an oversized mack truck. There are so many things I wish had written about, but I didn’t. I even slowed down posting on social media during my pregnancy, which several people mentioned to me throughout.
Maybe it was a protection. Maybe something inside of me knew things that I didn’t. Regardless, there are a lot of things I wish I had written about. Here are some of those things.
I wish I had written more in those early days about all of the excitement Scott and I shared until we shared the news with family and friends. We were so. flippin. excited. about becoming parents, and it was a really really hard secret for us to keep. We would lay awake at night with the pendulum swinging from so much excitement to pure terror and fear. There were a number of times where we said to each other, “oh, shit, what have we done.” But mostly, we were over the moon excited about becoming parents.
I wish I had written about the first time I got morning sickness. Saturday, December 12 as we were getting ready to walk out the door to head to a family Christmas party in Toledo. We hadn’t told people yet, and we were going to be spending the whole day with aunts, uncles and cousins. I felt like absolute crap all day, but couldn’t tell anyone why because we weren’t sharing the news yet. At least I didn’t puke while we were at my aunt and uncle’s house.
I wish I had written about all of the thought and energy we put into how we would share the news with our parents and siblings and Scott’s grandma. We decided to buy bottles of our favorite champagne–the stuff we had drank after safely landing from our hot air balloon ride for my 30th birthday–and make special grandparent and aunt and uncle labels that we then gifted to our parents and siblings for Christmas. I spent hours working on those labels to make them just perfect.
I wish I had written about the reactions of our parents and siblings on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day when they opened those bottles of champagne. The confusion. The shock. The excitement. The shouts of “I knew it!” from my sister, who of course knows just about everything before I tell her. After we shared the news with my parents and sister and brother-in-law on Christmas Eve, there were already presents for our baby under the tree on Christmas morning. There was so much love.
I wish I had written about how almost-impossible it was to keep the secret during the rest of our trip to Cleveland for Christmas. Especially since I was really really feeling like crap. Secretly hiding saltine crackers and hard candies in the guest room to soothe the morning (all day) sickness. Somehow I made it through that trip without puking, but I felt absolutely miserable just about the whole time.
I wish I had written about all the places and times I puked. Maybe that’s weird. But it’s one of the few memories I have with Alexander, and as I look back, at least I can laugh about it. I bought a toothbrush and toothpaste for my desk at work that (thankfully) I never had to open because I somehow managed to never lose my breakfast, lunch, or dinner while at the church. Maybe it was an insurance policy.
I wish I had written about our first ultrasound, and about hearing his heartbeat the first time. It’s a sound that I would give, literally, anything to hear again. Tears welled up in my eyes, and we laughed with the ultrasound about how active he was, dancing so excitedly in my belly.
I wish I had written about sharing the news with all our family and friends on social media. We had spent so long coming up with an idea, and going back and forth. Then, we spent the morning trying to figure out how to get a posed picture without a photographer. We somehow managed to get a perfect shot of the four of us: Scott and I studying up on our impending adventure of parenthood, Hiro curiously sniffing the adorable baby sneakers we had bought on Amazon, and Alexander’s first ultrasound pictures discretely framed on the shelf next to the couch. The response from our family and friends was overwhelming. So. Much. Love. For our sweet boy. Comments, texts, and phone calls poured in from family and friends across the country (and even the world). People showed up to church with gifts for us that very next Sunday.
I wish I had written about the time I lost my dinner at the table in Joe’s Crab Shack while away at a youth ministry conference in California. I was sitting with some colleagues enjoying a lovely dinner the night before the conference “officially” started, and suddenly I went from feeling great to feeling–well–not great. My friend JF looked at me and said, “are you okay?” I shook my head no, and she handed me the bucket from the middle of the table. I (very quietly and discretely) unloaded my dinner into the bucket, and then we laughed about it. When our waitress came back to the table, JF pulled her in close and whispered, “So, my pregnant friend got sick in the bucket. Just so you’re not surprised by its contents.” We laughed so. freaking. hard. After that, our waitress pretty much avoided our table the rest of the night. I’m not sure if she felt bad for me or if she was infuriated about the puke in the bucket. Either way, it’s one of the most hilarious memories from my pregnancy with Alexander. And I was so thankful that when we headed back to the conference hotel there was a mashed potato bar waiting at the evening mixer reception.
I wish I had written about my cravings. Well, mostly I craved potatoes. There were a few days where I went down the street from work to pick up a family sized order of mashed potatoes from Lee’s Chicken for lunch. I wanted to eat all. the. potatoes. So much so, that a few of my friends started calling our baby little Sweet Potato (or SP for short). And it stuck. We called him sweet potato for the rest of the pregnancy.
I wish I had written about the anatomy scan and the day we found out our little sweet potato was a boy. We were both convinced up to that point that it was a girl, but the moment we found out he was a he, we fell in love. Scott and I called and texted our parents from the parking lot outside the doctor’s office to share the news. I could see the joy and excitement in Scott’s face as he started dreaming about all of the father son things he was going to get to do. We had to go back to the drawing board on picking names, but we didn’t even care. Everything about him was perfect and we were so in love.
When I got into the office that day, the church staff immediately went to work helping to brainstorm (mostly obnoxious) boys’ names. We laughed at the thought of a boy named Jalapeno Haligowski, among other, far more obnoxious, suggestions.
I wish I had written about working on the nursery, and about how Scott just had to buy the book, Mommy, Why is There a Server in the House?. The day that book came, I think we read it six times. At least.
I wish I had written about the first time I felt him kick. I was standing at the bottom of the stairs waiting for Scott. I don’t remember where we were going, but I remember him coming down and saying, “I’m pretty sure I just felt him move!” We spent a lot of evenings laying on the couch with hands on my belly after that. Alexander was such an active little boy, and we would laugh and cry and joke about how he was probably going to be such a wiggle worm.
I wish I had written about Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, and how we excited we were. We were parents. We are parents. But, for the first time, we got to wish each other a Happy Mother’s and Father’s Day. People congratulated us at church. We were so full of love.
I wish I had written about the two lovely Monsters Inc. baby showers that were thrown for us. The first was up in Cleveland, hosted by our moms. We were surrounded by so much love that day. Family. Friends who we hadn’t seen in years. People showed up and showered us and baby Alexander with so many gifts and so much love.
I wish I had written about how meticulously we packed the car to come back to Dayton that day. It was literally packed so tight that we couldn’t have taken another thing. Hiro hardly had room to curl up in the back seat. It was a car bursting with love and gifts for our little boy. So. Much. Love.
I wish I had written about our second baby shower, hosted by the youth group families at our church. About 80 people came to play games, eat delicious food, and shower us and Alexander with so much love. We have been so supported and loved by those same families through our grief, but that was a day of joy and happiness and laughter.
We played nine square in the air, enjoyed the company of so many young people and their parents, laughed, and ate delicious cupcakes that were perfectly decorated for the Monsters Inc. theme. There was so much love for our little boy, and we filled the shelves in his nursery with toys and books after coming home that night. We couldn’t wait for Alexander to be welcomed into this incredibly loving church family that we are a part of.
I wish I had written about the agonizing process of choosing a name, and about all the places we went with Alexander while I was pregnant. He made it to the Great Smoky Mountains, the California coastline, Nashville, my parents’ camper, and so many other wonderful places.
I wish I had written about the special relationship that we just knew he was going to have with Hiro. In fact, the very last happy picture I have from my pregnancy is a picture of Hiro snuggling up against my belly that I posted on Instagram with the caption: “A Dog and His Boy: Chapter One – Bedtime snuggles and kicks in the face.” I posted that picture on June 27, just a week before Alexander’s heart stopped beating. Just a week before we stopped feeling kicks from that squirmy little boy of ours. We never got to see “A Dog and His Boy: Chapter Two.” Last week, Scott came upstairs from his basement office to find Hiro snuggled up next to our Alexander bear on the couch. I know he misses his boy just as much as we do. He knows.
So, there are lots of things I wish I had written about while I was pregnant with Alexander. These precious memories are all we have from the time we got with our boy while he was alive. They are precious, and I hold them so close to my heart. I play them over and over again in my head, trying to remember every detail of the joy and happiness we experienced from December 2015 through June 2016. They were the best months. Such good months that I was so busy living them I didn’t write and reflect on them until now.
I would give anything to relive those moments with my boy. I love and miss him so much. So. Very. Much.