I dreamed you, so I know you aren't real -- at least not yet. But for a few minutes, in the mystery of my dream you were very real. I gave birth to you, with every push, my big round belly deflated a little more and I could see your father standing near my feet. He was smiling. And, then you were in my arms, covered in goo with a patch of dark hair atop your head. You were screaming and I was crying. I called you by your name, Rowan, and heard a voice tell me -- "he weighs nine pounds!" My big, healthy baby boy finally in my arms.
It was a very happy dream. I woke Greg in the middle of the night to tell him about you.
"Roland?" he mumbled.
"No, Rowan," I said and then I tried to force myself to dream of you again, but you were gone.
The next morning I looked up the name Rowan. The only reference I have for that word is a county in my home state and a little blonde haired girl back in Italy where we used to live. Why was your name Rowan in my dream?
Turns out your name means "little red one." My heart sort of leaped when I read those words. Your great-grandfather, two of your great aunts, a great-uncle, your Aunt Carol and your cousins Nathan, Nicholas and Emily are all red heads. Could God be sending me a message? Will I one day have a little red head of my own?
I've been thinking about you a lot since that dream. All the hope and heartbreak of the past five years are funneled into what we think will be our last try -- our third round of in vitro fertilization. We start in January and will know before my birthday in February whether you will be a reality -- our greatest joy -- or whether we will mourn again for what might have been.
The thing I remember most from the dream is the weight of you in my arms, like a slippery, screaming, wiggling sack of flour. Is it possible to miss the weight of something you've never actually held in real life. Is it possible to fall in love with a dream baby that may not ever be real?
Of course, we must have hope, Rowan, that you will come to be. Like Emily Dickinson wrote, "Hope is the thing with feathers, that perches in the soul, and sings the tune without the words, and never stops at all."
I remember reading those words as a teenager in high school while studying Dickinson and over the years I've thought of those words from time to time, usually when I was lonely or heartbroken. So I suppose for now, you -- little red one -- are the hope that is perched in my soul.
I think of you every day as I go about my tasks. Sometimes, I imagine what life will be like for us once you are here. I think about all the things I want to teach you, all the books I want to read to you, all the songs we'll sing together. I hope you have your daddy's cheerful, giving nature and how maybe from me, you'll inherit a strong curiosity and my Aquarian sense of equality and fairness.
Who will you be, Rowan? What kind of personality will emerge from you? For me, that has been one of the most fascinating and rewarding parts of being an aunt -- watching over the days, months and years as your cousins became themselves. They are all so different -- such unique individuals -- as we all are. Who will you be?
We have waited for you for so long, but sometimes I'm nervous that I won't be any good at being your mother. I worry that I'm far too selfish. I worry that I won't be able to teach you everything you'll need to know to navigate this world. I worry that I won't be able to protect you from all the evil and pain that lurks out there.
But most of all, Rowan, I worry that we'll never meet face to face -- that years from now, this letter will be the only thing left of the dream that was you.
God speed you to us, little one. Perch yourself in my soul and sing and never stop.
All my love,