I only knew you existed for 48 hours. While our time together was brief, your impact was not. You proved my heart could expand to love someone I never met. You proved I was ready for motherhood. I never heard your beating heart, but you changed mine forever.
Still tender from loss and a year of trying, I stared at the big fat “pregnant” with equal parts trepidation and elation. Those emotions warred within me, with fear winning out most days, until I heard your heartbeat and my anxiety eased. And then I bled. After lots of tests, the doctor confirmed the news I dreaded hearing: your heart had stopped beating a few weeks before, but my body was only now responding. As soon as I learned your heart had broken inside of me, my heart broke too, and I spent the next few years putting the shattered pieces back together.
While mending my wounded heart, the Lord revealed Himself to me in new ways. He lovingly showed me how tempering my excitement in fear of loss didn’t prevent my grief; how as much as I wanted you, Baby, you were never going to fulfill my soul’s deepest longings. Not because you weren’t loved, but because it wasn’t your job. The only one who could ever bring that kind of fulfillment is Jesus. He used your life to show me how to desire and place my hope in Him above all else. What a gift you gave me, Baby.
You were never an afterthought or a guaranteed avenue to pregnancy. You were prayed over long before infertility was ever part of my story. But as God would have it, you came into my life amidst fertility treatments and a global pandemic. The night we met, you were placed into my arms, wide-eyed and alert. You stayed that way for hours until you finally relaxed and drifted off to sleep in the security of my embrace. I knew then you would have my heart forever. The next six months were spent caring for a child who was mine, but not.
You stole my heart with each passing day, with your laugh and your babbles and your curls. But while I was falling in love, your family was falling apart. I fervently prayed for them and the future I knew might not include us together. The sign hanging in your nursery read, “If You gave Your life to love them, so will I.” It served as my daily reminder that foster care meant pouring out my life, no matter the cost. I loved you with everything I had, knowing it would likely break my heart. And it did.
The day you left was the hardest day of my life. Our house and hearts had never felt emptier. While I continually reminded myself of your gain, I lamented my own loss. Your family was whole, but you had taken a part of me with you. If miscarriage taught me what it meant to love a baby I never met, you taught me how to love with abandon. You taught me what sacrificial love really looks like. I may not be your forever mom, but you’ll always be my son.
(For a little while) Mama
Before you, there were others. Other babies I loved and lost. Each time I wondered when it would be my turn to celebrate. Even though permanency wasn’t the goal in fostering, each goodbye left me questioning if God saw me. Did He know how much I wanted this? Did He care? I wrestled with these questions as we took each next step towards pregnancy. I can’t say the path was linear.
I questioned, I lamented, I accepted, I forgot, I prayed, I did the next right thing. On and on it went as I walked the path that eventually led to you. And then you were here, and suddenly it was my turn. After years of goodbyes, it was finally time to say hello. The moment you were born, the song “Red Sea Road” played, and I wept. Because in my journey to you, as the lyrics say, I “couldn’t see the way, but He parted the waves and I never walked alone down my Red Sea Road.”
As you grow, you’ll say goodbyes and walk your own Red Sea roads. Through the struggles, I hope you cling to the cross because it reminds us goodbye is never the end. Because of Jesus, you can wake up each day with fresh hope, not in changing circumstances, but in an unchanging Savior who will never let you walk alone.
Kelsey Aldinger lives outside of Fort Worth, TX with her husband Luke and daughter Campbell. When she’s not chasing her toddler around, she can be found creating something with words or food. Kelsey has a passion for hospitality, whether it’s around a table or through her writing, and her hope is to leave women feeling less alone and more seen because of her work.