This blog was originally shared with A Letter to My Baby. A Letter To My Baby is the fourth book in a series that celebrates the greatest gift you can give: a heartfelt letter written to someone you love.

Dear Zackery,

When I think about this journey, this blessing called motherhood, I usually go straight to thinking about your brother. He was the one who looked at me with his big, brown eyes and gave me the strength and the will to keep going, in my weakest moments of darkness and depression. He is more often a part of the story I tell, and for that I am so, so sorry.

I have never and will never love you any less. A mother’s heart (my heart) simply grows with each child. It doesn’t split. I don’t have to choose one or the other. I choose you both.

I am sorry that I was afraid to hold you, terrified to do something wrong, scared I would hurt you. I wanted to be a good mom, to soothe your pain and stop your tears. I wanted to know how to calm you down and put you to sleep. I wanted to be the one who knew you better than anyone. I wanted to be the one who knew what you needed, and the one to provide it all. I wanted to be the mom that knew how to do it all, who didn’t need help. I wanted to be confident and sure. I wanted to be the perfect mom – the one I had always dreamed of and envisioned myself being. But I wasn’t. I was far from that person. I was none of what I thought I would be.

I am sorry I wasn’t always there – physically, mentally or emotionally. I’m sorry that I had to go back to work and that I didn’t do things with you and daddy. I’m sorry that I cried so much. I’m sorry I couldn’t take care of you better. I’m sorry for all the ways that way deep down I feel like I let you down. I pray that you don’t remember how sad and afraid I was, because if you knew I fear it would break my heart.

Through all that fear and sadness, all that guilt and shame, one thing always held true: I loved you.

I never wanted anything more than I wanted you. I remember the day, the exact moment I knew you were real. I beamed and glowed and marveled at the idea of you growing inside my tummy every week. That feeling of being a vessel for your miraculous life, as well as the feeling of you kicking and moving, seeing my belly move up and down in waves as you did somersaults and flips – that was the best feeling in the world. I loved being pregnant; it suited me. I did everything I was supposed to and nothing I wasn’t. You were my priority, my focus, my life.

I remember the day you were born: September 15, 2007. I remember how my day started (and even the night before) and I remember every detail throughout the day. I remember the second you took your first breath (9:17 pm) and the crucial moments that followed. I remember the nurse putting you on my chest and I just looked at you with awe saying “oh my gosh, oh my gosh!” until I had to be told to touch you. I couldn’t believe my eyes. You were real. After all those months of knowing you were coming, and all the months prior of me and daddy trying and hoping for you – now here you were. Perfect. So tiny, so little, and so perfect.

I have to remind myself sometimes that even though you are now eight years old, you are still little. You are still young, with an innocent mind and a caring heart. You see the best in people, and your concern for others, especially your brother, brings such joy to my heart. You will always be my baby. My first baby. You are the one who started this journey of mine and this beautiful gift of getting to call myself a mom. I promise to be here for you on earth as long as I live, and from Heaven above for eternity.

To my Big Snugglebug, Mommy loves you.