Amanda Mandeville

Dear Little Ones,
Where do I begin?
You’ve changed everything
You’ve let the sun in

Dear Baby,

Your father and I waited a very long time for you. We dated a year, got engaged for a year, then had a small but beautiful fairytale wedding. Anybody could have told us that a baby was the next logical step. First comes love then comes marriage....
We waited a year and your father broached the subject on Fathers Day - he was ready to be a dad!
We agreed the time was right, I quit the pill and we figured soon we’d have a darling little mini boy or girl version of “us”.
A month went by. Then another month and another and another. Don’t get me wrong, your father and I love each other very much and we had lots of fun “trying” but those months turned into a year, then 2. We traveled, made friends, moved. We had a cat (actually we still have him, our first “fur baby” although these days he’s an old old man) Eventually after 4 years we decided to see a doctor and were referred to a fertility clinic. They began by checking on our plumbing. With your father they checked to make sure the swimmers were present and could in fact swim (good motility, only a few duds we were told). Then they did a procedure on me called an HSG where they flushed my tubes out with water. Then BAM. One month after the HSG and almost 5 years after we decided we wanted to grow a family and create a person there you were, FINALLY! I was certain I was pregnant. I knew it instinctively and a pregnancy test confirmed it a little while later. I knew then that whatever doubts I may have had in the past I had always wanted you. We confirmed that you were really there through a blood test at our doctors office and we scheduled our first ultrasound at 8 weeks.
At the ultrasound we finally got to see you. Our hearts were full to bursting as we saw your tiny little heart beating there in front of us. It was pure magic.
We scheduled a 12 week ultrasound and then we moved. We sold our townhouse (the first home your father and I bought together) and we bought a bigger home in a different city. We had the extra bedroom, the big yard and all the elementary schools we could ever want for our soon to be growing family.
I was pretty sure you were a girl and I couldn’t wait to see you again.
The day came for our 12 week ultrasound. We were excited and nervous as all expectant parents are. The technician came in and then left for a long time. Eventually a doctor came in and told us that something was wrong and I knew at that moment that I would do anything for you.
But dear little baby your heart had stopped beating at just 9 weeks.
Your father and I held each other and cried. It was the saddest moment of my life. The saddest time in our marriage together.
In that intimate moment of grief you brought us together in a way we had never been before.
There will always be a special place in my heart for you. You taught me about the possibility of a deeper love. You taught me about a love that carries on after loss.

Dear Ryder,
You are our rainbow baby. Our beautiful light after the storm. Once our doctor gave us the green light to start trying again. BAM. There you were. Once again I knew it before I even took the test. I told my doctor that I suspected I was pregnant and she said she could confirm it for me that very day. But your father was away at work and I wanted us to find out together. So I declined, and we waited a few more days until we could both see the results. It was Fathers Day and man were we excited about the two lines on that pee stick!
My intuition told me that you were a boy. And that you were strong. Both turned out to be true.
I was anxious at every ultrasound and every doctors visit but you were a healthy and strong superstar.
I had a great pregnancy with you. I felt good and more than one stranger told me I looked beautiful. I also had amazing doctors and midwives who patiently helped with all my fears and questions.
You were a pretty good little womb mate. You only kicked me once in the kidney (seriously though, you almost dropped me with that move!) and I didn’t crave anything too weird (ice cream, pickles, and pomegranates.....oh yeah and few jars of canned spaghetti sauce that I ate straight out of the jar with a spoon).
When it came time to get you out though, that was a different story. You must have been enjoying your womb service a little too much! Your father and I tried every trick in the book but nothing started labour. Finally when you were a week over due we went in for an ultrasound and they told me they wanted me to head straight to the hospital for an induction. I had very little amniotic fluid left and they suspected you were very large. Suddenly I was told my pregnancy was “high risk”. I was scared. So scared that I would lose you. And crushed because I had been hoping to have a home birth.
So we rushed to the hospital and somehow we got through the most scary painful ugly beautiful and wonderful moments of my life. Then on March 3rd you finally joined us at 7:14 am. You were 9lbs 2oz, 22.25” long, and so very perfect. I didn’t get to hold you for 7 agonizing minutes after you were born as you were struggling a bit and the NICU people had to help you out a bit. When I finally got to hold you in my arms you changed my life forever. Suddenly our family and our joy expanded in an instant.
That first night after we took you home I held you in my arms as you slept and tears ran down my face because I knew that you would never be one day old again. In that moment you taught me how fleeting time truly is. How vulnerable, fragile and impermanent we all are. How significant love is, in spite of all our insignificance.
My dear boy, I would do anything to protect you, give my life to keep you safe. I hope you always know how much I love you. In the words of Robert Munsch “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living my baby you’ll be”.

Dear Finley,
Sweet baby girl, you are our sunshine. We all adore you.
Once again when I got pregnant with you I had my suspicions. Except this time I was certain you were a girl (I literally thought “pink”) Your brother was the first one we told and when we asked him whether he wanted a brother or a sister he said he wanted a sister. This time around I had morning sickness. Trust me it wasn’t pretty. Neither were the varicose veins or the PUPPS rash or my huge swollen feet. But it was all worth it for you. You’ve taught me that love transcends the superficial. The love I had for my pre pregnancy body doesn’t hold a candle to the love I have for you.
I remember the flutters and kicks as you grew. Just as special the second time around as the first. Like an expression your father and I learned in Asia, everything was “same same but different”. The pregnancy was harder but my labour with you was easier. Like your brother you overindulged in womb service. Once again I wanted to have a home birth and once again I had a baby that was 7 days overdue. We had an ultrasound to check on you and the doctor estimated you would be a whopping 11 lbs! Although your swimming pool had more fluid than your brothers did so we didn’t have to rush to the hospital immediately. We came up with a plan to try a herbal induction with our midwives and you surprised us all when you decided to come the day before. Phew! No castor oil after all! After about 7 hours of labour you came out very suddenly (and nearly into the toilet- your father loves telling that part of the story!). You arrived on June 5th at 5:44pm. You were 9lbs 6oz and 22.25” long. Perfect and beautiful. You looked up at us with eyes both alert and wise and once again we fell in love.
Before you were born I worried that I would love you differently than Ryder. But my love for both of you flows strong and steady from the same source. It is unquantifiable, bubbly sweet and fiercely protective at the same time. You’ve taught me that love is unchanging and infinite, it is our time together every day that is finite and so I do my best each and every day to divide my time and attention fairly between you and your brother.
Once upon a time a younger more selfish version of myself may have wanted to live forever like Tuck Everlasting. But I understand so well why Winnie chose the path she did. Your father and I will live on in you and Ryder. Your path in life is our fountain of youth. Your smile the lighthouse for our souls. I would do anything to keep you from harm, and I hope you know that my love for you goes so much farther than just “to the moon and back”.

Love Mom