Her name was Ava Grace, and she wasn’t meant to be…
The name was not definite— it could have been Mia or Sera or Julia or even Jack—but from the moment I felt her blooming within me, I imagined her every detail. Strawberry blond pigtails bounced as she giggled at tickly belly kisses; a smattering of inevitable freckles danced across her nose; dimpled hands grasped a pink blanket, her fingers working the silky fabric as she drifted of to sleep. She was radiant…and she was mine.
My vintage Barbies, Cabbage Patch Kids, and even an antique Betsy-Wetsy doll would decorate her nursery. Below her ruffled dresses, Band-aids would plaster her constantly scraped knees, for after she spent hours lost in magical storybook worlds, she’d tear through our garden searching for faireis hidden amidst the sunflower stalks and rose blooms.
She was real—the tangible, thriving child of my dreams—then she was gone.
Three times I let her slip away. My body failed her. My love wasn’t strong enough to bind her to me, to keep her alive. Somehow I just couldn’t make her be. Though technically it was never my fault, my guilt is a scar that will never truly fade.
When you have one healthy, amazing child no one seems to understand that fortune may not fall on you again. An uncomfortable shrug and downcast eyes became my only response to the constant questioning about when we were going to provide our son with a sibling. Losses were brushed aside as savage words bit to the bitter core.
You already have one child—there’s no reason you can’t have more. It’s just not in God’s plan right now. There must have been something wrong with it. You don’t really want another mouth to feed, do you? It’s for the best. God will give you another baby when you are ready. It’s so early it’s not a big deal. It’s not like it was a “real” baby you had held or anything…
The wait consumed me each month. Days ticked by in a blur as I obsessed about recreating her, dreamed I was worthy of breathing life into her tiny cells. Fertility drugs sent me teetering to the edge. Prayers went unanswered. What little faith I once held was washed away in a tide of blood.
Constant failure beat me down until I could no longer withstand the jabs of frustration, the gut-punches of hearbreak and grief. I finally broke. A dull husk shivering on the bathroom floor was all that remained. I surrendered while my shattered spirit still had a chance to piece itself back together.
Life goes on, forever fluid as a river, at times flooding my heart with joy, yet occasionally still receding, leaving me brittle and barren. There will always be a lingering part of my soul adrift. A glimpse of a shy smile on a little girl in a crowd, graceful laughter carried in on the breeze—that could have been her.
In time, I chose to declare peace with the past so I could embrace my family’s future. I chose to find grace in the bounty of beautiful moments life granted me instead of lamenting what had been denied. Our threesome may not be all I had longed for, but it is complete, and it is enough.
Her name was Ava Grace, and her soul was not meant for this world.